It is amazing to reflect back on everything in your life and see how God has been orchestrating everything according to His perfect timing, how intricately He has pieced life together, and how He continues to unfold His perfect plan before you. Never could I have pictured life to have taken me where I am now but “to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we could ever ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20) and God has certainly directed my curvy roads straight and has invited me into a life of surrender and obedience to Him. He is so sweet and so good all the time.
There are many reasons and events in my life (that I now am able to see) of which have all led up to my decision to follow God’s call for me to go to Mexico. When I was younger, God instilled a passion for travel and to experience different cultures across the nations. He then instilled the passion for education and using it as a tool for the sake of spreading the Gospel once I was a sophomore at Liberty University.
But if we’re talking about truly why I decided to move to Mexico, I think it stems back to all the simple “yes’s” made in my life that have ultimately prepared me for each “next thing.” God has a way of always presenting opportunities in front of me where I know my faith will be challenged but ultimately strengthened… and in the end, He is molding me to look more and more like Him with every step: big or small. But saying “yes” to God, even in the mundane and “simple things” sounds a lot easier said than done. He certainly equips the called and leaves room for grace.
Several years ago, Christine Caine came to speak at my school and shared her testimony of almost losing her life to cancer. Right before undergoing surgery, not knowing the outcome, she prayed, “God, I hope I have done everything you have called me to do while here on earth, and I’m bringing home the people I was meant to bring.”
Like her, I also have had an experience where I’ve said similar words. In February 2017, I was in a car accident that I shouldn’t have walked away from. My best friend and I decided to drive out to a nearby lake and on our way out, we rounded a curve a little too sharp that sent the vehicle out of control. The car went left of center at 55mph, hit a mound on the side of the road which sent the car airborne, and then flipped around 4 or 5 times. By the grace of God we walked away from the hospital that night with minimal injuries but according to law enforcement and paramedics, we were walking miracles.
I share this with you because just as God spared my spiritual life the day I decided to follow Jesus and accept His gift of Salvation, God ALSO spared my physical life the day of my accident so that I could continue on with life serving Him and making Him known to all those I encounter. “To live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). At the end of the day, the ONLY thing that truly matters is whether or not I lived my life in reverence to the Lord, being obedient to all that He would call me to (no matter the difficulty), and inviting others along for the ride so that they also would choose to have a relationship with Christ. And one day, I hope to be able to reach the gates of heaven and hear “well done thy good and faithful servant.” One day, I hope to say “I did everything that you, God, had called me to do and now I’m coming home with the people I was supposed to bring with me (perhaps even God used me as a vessel in their lives to share the Gift of Life and Salvation with them) …and wow what a big ole party we’ll throw for them and we’ll sing praises forevermore.
After my accident, God began working in my heart (in ways I didn’t even realize it at the time) and began to really show me what it meant to trust in Him. I haven’t mastered this at all and I feel like I’m revisiting this every day, but I simply began to just say “yes” to the things He would lay before me. Even things as “simple” as texting someone when they came to mind to let them know I was thinking and praying for them, or getting up and spending time with Jesus when I really felt like sleeping more, or being present in a conversation and not allowing my mind to drift. When I began to be more intentional (though I have failed…many many times) with this cycle of “yes’s” I was able to see God work in huge ways in the end.
I learned about Global Education Ministries at a career fair that my school hosted. I was pretty dead set that I wanted to teach in the Lynchburg City Schools when a representative of GEM stopped me and asked if I had ever considered teaching in Mexico. To be honest, I thought “NOPE” but felt the Lord telling me “Shelby, just listen to what she has to share.” So I said, “Yes Lord, I will stay and listen.” Then it turned into “Yes Lord, I will sign up for an interview… but this is kinda crazy.” And then it turned into “yes, I will fill out an application,” “Yes, I will have that facetime interview,” “yes I will pray and seek the Lord and his guidance over where he is potentially leading me.” “Yes Lord, yes Lord, yes Lord.” When I said “yes” to the decision to join the ministry of GEM I had absolutely no doubt in my mind that this was in fact where God had been leading me because of incredible peace and discernment given by Him.
Life is beautiful and SUCH A HUGE GIFT. His plans are far greater than what I could have ever imagined for my life. I am constantly reminding myself that this life isn’t about me, nor was it ever, nor will it ever be. It has always been about serving and loving God and sharing His goodness with everyone around me. I get to continue on with life now and make Him known. I’m so excited to be joining the ministry in Puerto in a few short months.
If you’d like to support Shelby as she serves with GEM in Mexico, you can do so HERE. You can also contact her directly to talk further about what it means to be on her support team and find out how you can be praying for her!