I recently traveled to the Dominican Republic with other World Vision Child Ambassadors on what is known as a Vision Trip. These are the details of the journey from my perspective. There are 7 stages that will be published when all is said. Here’s how it begins…
Here I am Lord. Change me!
Ok! Everybody turn to that popular scripture that we all know by heart…
Say what? Seriously? That’s what I thought too, some time ago, as I was asking the Lord for direction in my life. Sometimes I do that. I just ask Him to show me in His Word where I can find my daily bread. Expecting something much more familiar to my taste buds, my first reaction was, “This can’t be right. Nobody actually uses anything from Numbers 33 in their daily walk.” I glanced down at the heading in my Bible and realized the place I’d been sent was entitled “Stages in Israel’s Journey” Hey! I have always kept a journal of the stages of my journey too. Suddenly, God had my full attention.
Upon reading further I discovered Numbers 33 to be the account of their trip from the time they left Egypt until they crossed the Jordan into Canaan under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. They traveled out of Egypt camped here and there, spent more than one night in some places, went east and then west and sometimes they even went back to places they had already been and camped there again. At the Lord’s command Moses recorded the stages of their journey. I wonder if he knew that thousands of years later, I’d be sitting in my house, intrigued by the journey that mirrors my own life and being asked to follow his lead.
I have been a Child Ambassador for World Vision for a few years now. I’ve been sponsoring kids for a few more. January 2010 in San Diego at the Child Ambassador Conference was my first exposure to so many committed and beautiful Christians in one place. It was a miracle that I was there at all. During the conference I listened to people who had actually visited their sponsored children and had gone on a Vision Trip. It was then and there that my heart exploded at the unlikely possibility that maybe someday, I might go somewhere. I would imagine that the Israelites had only dreamed of this freedom too.
The stories I heard at that conference helped to deepen my faith and broaden my knowledge. They opened my mind to the very real circumstances and difficult choices that people are forced to make in response to their poverty. Fathers forced to sell their 5 and 6 year old daughters into sex slavery in order to afford feeding the rest of their family -only to have those daughters victimized to fulfill the myth that their virginity can somehow cure AIDS in old men. Ugghhh x 40 ! Or moms faced with the choice of watching their children die of thirst or watching them die of the diseases associated with the contaminated water they gave them to drink so that they wouldn’t die of thirst. Ugghhh x41! Wait a minute God. These are not the stories I’ve heard about on the news. Why has someone been sugar coating my life? Why did I not know these things before? How could I have lived for over 40 years unaware and worse yet maybe unconcerned? Welcome to spiritual Egypt. I came home and wrote a poem about it on February 13, 2010:
I heard the voices of the children
Crying out to me
Through the heart songs of the mothers
Being birthed of misery
Oh, my soul is weary
For the weepings on the wind
A bruised reed you will not break
An oak you will not bend
I see a dying innocence
I hear a lie I cannot break
I smell the emptiness of sacrifice
I taste the venom of the snake
Creation groans for all the choices
Bearing pain beyond the flesh
Though the Way is set before us
Choosing life begat the death
Heartbeat of the Father
Voice of Perfect Light
Cleansing Love redeem us
From the perils of this dark night
Storms of Everlasting
Waves of Mercy crest with Grace
Set your Peace upon the nations
Bring us near to Heaven’s Gate
Within 6 months following that conference I would become unemployed (in the traditional sense of the word) and completely dependent on the Lord for everything. It was at this point that I prayed for direction and He led me to Numbers 33. His sovereign hand on my life had brought me to a place of complete and total surrender. I was healing from the painful removal of some strongholds in my life and from the jet lag associated with living in spiritual Egypt for so long. He rescued my broken life by bringing me day jobs to earn my daily bread and He redeemed my dignity. He lightened my burden by helping me rid my life of all unnecessary spending like cable TV and unlimited internet service. He restored balance to my finances by helping me change my habits and exchange my earthly dollars for Kingdom wealth (btw, the exchange rate is really good on that transaction) so I began personally sponsoring more kids and working harder to get more kids sponsored. He helped me to remain committed to the local mission field by calling me to organize a shoe ministry which ended up delivering over 375 pairs of new shoes to local kids in need; and finally by forming Glory2Glory Ministries to fulfill His plan for a HUGE new project that only He can accomplish.
One day in November, in the midst of the beautiful chaos that I call freedom, I got an email from World Vision addressed to all Child Ambassadors. “Come to the Dominican Republic with us! I still have 5 spots available for this year’s Child Ambassador Vision Trip, March 20-27, 2011. I am offering these spots first to those who have never had the chance to go to the field and see WV’s work”. My heart jumped. I prayed for a full 2 seconds, as I waited for my phone to open a reply email, and I responded immediately with, “Yes”. In a very little while, I got a reply. “Deana, it will be great to have you on the trip! You have taken my last available spot, so congratulations!” I sat stunned in my car. A natural response for any over committed-unemployed- living day to day while raising two kids-single parent- person who just volunteered to go on a trip she cant afford to the Dominican Republic. Oh Man! Yikes! What did I just do? But I want to go. I want to be obedient to that yearning that God put in my heart a year or so earlier in San Diego. And then, a familiar Peace came over me…
In that moment I thought about Moses in Numbers 33. Called to a journey that he was ill equipped to make. I thought about verses 3-4 where it describes how Moses “marched out boldly, in full view of all of the Egyptians who were burying all their firstborn whom the Lord had struck down among them;”. That verse had been so important to me from the beginning because it was a picture of his obedience in spite of his circumstances. ‘Burying their dead’ in my world looks like doubt in Gods call on my life. ‘Burying their dead’, looks like money being a barrier to achieving my full God given potential. ‘Burying their dead’ looks like the hard choices I have to make being a parent and needing to work full time and wanting to still be home with my kids. What does it look like to you?
So WDMD? (What Did Moses Do?) He gathered his people, took the Egyptians’ jewels and gold and supplies and marched out boldly into his calling as commander of the journey that would lead God’s people to freedom. WDED? (What Did the Egyptians Do?) They watched him go. They were their own captives now. Held in place by their inability to get beyond their own circumstances.
I am seeking the deep things of God, it is my personal journey to freedom. I’ve gathered my belongings, reclaimed my riches in Christ that were rightfully mine all along, and I’m walking out boldly as the obstacles that held me captive for so long watch me leave. This Vision trip to the Dominican Republic is the physical & spiritual manifestation of Numbers 33. A journey that I have unknowingly been journaling for over a year. These are the details of the trip from my perspective.
Ask Yourself this Question (AYTQ): Am I a bold witness to Gods sovereignty and ready to journey the promise land or am I paralyzed by my grief and reluctant to leave the dead things in my life?
To be continued…