God has led me to the country of Mexico after college, but why? Why am I going? How did He “lead me” there?
“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”
Global Education Ministries
One gift of a Monday with no school, thank you Mexican Independence Day, I met with a friend for a run on the beach. With the sun on our backs and the sand sliding into our shoes, the miles and conversation passed quickly. We arrived to our destination, catching our breaths in a shady area. The ocean was filled with surfboards and tourists, and we watched as joyous and shaky riders conquered waves and face planted into others. Yet always willing to paddle back out and try again.
I’m sure many messages have been and could be written about the connections between surfers and following Jesus. The unknown of the waters, the determination and ability to take risks…but, I’m not going to talk about those topics. For off to our other side were 5 men. Five men that had nets, simple clothes, and no shoes. Fishermen.
I’ve never had much interest in fishing. After seeing a hook get stuck in the palm of my big brother’s hand, I stayed away from the sport. If I’m honest, maybe I just don’t have the patience. Regardless of the reason, I had never really watched the process. I was mesmerized as the men worked together, casting out the net, pulling it in, each with his own purpose (one seemed to simply keep the others laughing).
We watched them pull in a big load, the birds loudly protesting from above, and my friend turned to me and made an unforgettable observation, “Just imagine Jesus walking up to these men and saying Follow Me.” And I realized that I had never truly paid attention to that part of Scripture. I always took for granted that of course they would follow Jesus. Of course, they would understand what was to take place by leaving everything to follow Him. But they didn’t.
So, I thought about what that meant for them to leave their nets. In Matthew 4:19 it says that Jesus simply states, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” He doesn’t say, “Don’t worry, you will always have enough to eat” or “With me you will see amazing things of God.” Jesus only says, “Follow me.” He doesn’t entice us with beautiful views, delicious food, or amazing coworkers. He just wants us to follow Him.
I will never forget a quote which states, “When you delay obedience, doubt and excuses creep in.” For the next verse says, “At once they left their nets and followed Him.” They were the first ones. They didn’t have the gift of seeing others already following Jesus. They didn’t read books about missionaries or watch inspirational movies. They heard His call and simply obeyed. And I think in many ways if God did show us His plans…well, in our humanness, we would freak out a little bit. So, in His graciousness, He shows us one step at a time. One day at a time. One moment at a time.
Sarah Quigg is serving her second year at our school in Mexico as the 5th-grade teacher. We are so blessed to have her on our team, and our students are INCREDIBLY blessed by her God-given talent for teaching and loving them so well.
All throughout school my English teachers have tried to broaden my vocabulary. “A lot is a piece of land, not a description of many things.” A dragon isn’t scary; it’s terrifying or frightening!” And the most common correction: “You will receive points off if I see the word GOOD on your paper.”
And so I journeyed through high school avoiding the word good like the plague. Excellent, magnificent, incredible, breathtaking. Those are words that add life to the blank page.
It all started back in elementary school (which is feeling farther away than ever these days). I was a typical, needing my sister’s approval, young girl and my Mom was taking us shopping for new birthday skirts. What seemed like hours later (I’ve never been a professional shopper), and thinking about the next chapter of my awaiting novel back at home, I finally pulled a skirt from the rack that just might be THE ONE. It had oranges, pinks, and reds all throughout a swirly pattern (if it sounds hideous…Well, it most certainly was). I was in love. I found the perfect complimentary shirt (imagine a tasty sherbert orange kind of color) and headed for the dressing room. It fit perfectly (due to the handy elastic band) and I boldly opened the door to show the world!
My sister took one look and said, “yeah, it looks good.”
Good? These colors looked amazing, stupendous, lovely. But good? I returned dejected. There is no way I could buy a skirt that was just…Good. (after some encouraging words only a Mom can give I ended up wearing that skirt for many years).
And so explains my aversion to the word good. Until I heard that song. That song that most of you have now running through your mind. That song that describes our amazing, merciful, trustworthy God as a GOOD GOOD FATHER.
That’s when I did something that many word lovers can relate to…I looked up the definition. Good: morally excellent, virtuous, righteous.
And then those lyrics made a little more sense. Actually, a lot more. Because nothing else in this world can be described as good. Humans most definitely shouldn’t be, as we fail continuously every day. Animals, nature or even a colorful skirt can be used for evil.
Then we catch a glimpse of the work of our good, good father. We see Him turn an evil act into bringing glory to His name. We see Him redeeming and refining His people every single day. And most importantly we see that in any situation: an unexpected death or sickness, a financial burden, or even just a hard day…Life can still be lived with joy because God is still GOOD.
Sarah Quigg graduated from Liberty University in 2015 with a B.S. in Special Education. She loves running and growing closer to God while exploring His creation! This is her second year teaching 5th grade at the Manantial School in Mexico.
“God is so vastly wonderful, so utterly and completely delightful that He can, without anything other than Himself, meet and overflow the deepest demands of our total nature, mysterious and deep as that nature is.” – A.W. Tozer
CHANGE: WRESTLING WITH THE UNKNOWN
If there is one thing in my life that I consistently struggle with, it’s changed.
Six years ago, I moved away from my family in south Georgia for college in Virginia. At the time I was 21 years old. I had never been away from my family for more than 2 months. Moving away was incredibly frightening. In my case, change meant moving 8 hours away from friends that I had invested in over 21 years of my life. Change meant a lot of new, uncertain things in my life. For a person used to safety and comfort, this was very difficult. It meant that I was moving into a new setting where I was the outsider, the new kid. Yet, I knew God was leading me away from where I had been for 21 years to grow and live independently from my family. What I didn’t know at the time was that change was soon to become the mantra of my life. I had no idea that God was going to use the thing I hated the most to shape and refine me, day-by-day, moment-by-moment.
Tim Chester says, “Change is a lifelong, daily struggle that will end with an eternal harvest of holiness.”
God uses change in our lives, good and bad, to refine us and shape us into the image of Jesus, bringing us into fuller joy.
REDEEMING THE UNKNOWN
In my own life, God has used change in several ways to shape and refine me. In college, I was forced to stand on my own. I was taught through the unknown transition into adulthood that God can be trusted in all circumstances. Because of my experiences in college I came to understand the church with deeper clarity and conviction. I learned that God does not only intend for us to show up once a week to a building to hear his word preached but that the church is his body – a people redeemed by Jesus sent into the world to be his witnesses. I learned that the church isn’t a place at all – it’s a people. I learned that God calls me to worship every single day, not just on Sundays. I learned that the church is this messy, broken, redeemed, beautiful, healed people trying to live in light of the truth and that we have been declared righteous by God through faith in Jesus.
God was also revealing to me that discipleship was much more than just one on one meeting or a bible study. Rather, discipleship is submitting all of our lives to the Lordship of Jesus. Jeff Vanderstelt writes,
“Discipleship—learning to follow, trust, and obey Jesus in the everyday stuff of life—requires submitting to and obeying God’s Word in three key environments: life on life, where our lives are visible and accessible to one another; life in community, where more than one person is developing another; and life on mission, where we experience making disciples and, while doing so, come to realize how much we need God’s power.”
Ultimately God used my time in Lynchburg to grow me and help me to see the beauty of who Jesus is and who He is making me to be. I have found Proverbs 16:9 to be fittingly and sometimes frustratingly true – “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
God’s grace is at work, transforming us as we navigate these recent changes together.
Marriage is messy. My wife sees my life for what it is and I see the same in her. This is what makes it so amazing! God is in the works of changing us—through marriage—to His likeness.
Paul Tripp reminds us that God uses spouses as tools of change.
“When your ears hear and your eyes see the sin, weakness, or failure of your husband or wife, it is never an accident; it is always grace. God loves your spouse, and he is committed to transforming him or her by his grace, and he has chosen you to be one of his regular tools of change.”
God is redeeming the difficulties in marriage to transform us. He is using our transition into marriage as a means of changing us. He is using the sin, brokenness, selfishness, and mess as tools of change for the sake of His name.
When Kristen and I were dating, we often dreamed of what our future would look like, where we would be, and who we would be serving. We had plans to settle in Virginia (quite comfortably) for a season before we would eventually move to Portland, Oregon to be a part of a church planting team for the sake of Jesus’ name being made known in the Pacific Northwest. However, God had different plans. Again, Proverbs 16:9,
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
My wife was recently attending a local fair for teaching jobs when one particular school seemed to stand out. This school is called Centro Educativo el Manantial (CEM). This is not your normal, American public school. This is an English immersion school that is found in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. It was started by an organization called Global Education Ministries. When Kristen first told me about this, I remember thinking, “there is no way we are moving to Mexico!” Why would I want to go to Mexico? We already had a great plan! We had a safe plan. We had a comfortable plan. We had a plan that required minimal change. We would stay put for a couple of years and then move to Portland.
So we prayed. And prayed. And we sought wise council and deliberated with friends. Finally, after much consideration, wisdom, and prayer, we can say with confidence that the Lord is leading us to follow Him to a country neither of us knows, in an area we are unfamiliar with, and in a way we never could have expected. Six months after being married, we are about to embark on the biggest adventure of our lives. Here is what we are learning – God calls us into unfamiliar situations that require us to obey and trust in His faithfulness.In light of all of this, we have committed to two years in Puerto Escondido, Mexico for the Glory of His Name! We are very excited about how the Lord will use this in our lives to grow us, mold us, draw us closer to Him. We are equally excited to see how He uses us to lift up the name of Jesus in Mexico!
PURSUING JESUS IN THE MINEFIELDS OF CHANGE
If there was going to be anything I’ve learned through all these changes it is this: Jesus is worthy of all our time, possessions, decisions, and personal desires. Psalm 103:2-5 gives us a beautiful picture of our God and who He is to us.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
Nothing else in this world will give the satisfaction that Jesus offers. He is good and there is no one like Him. We were created by and for Him. It doesn’t matter if you are living in the states or in another country, God desires that you seek him with your whole heart. He has given his church a command: to make disciples of all nations. Therefore, all of us have a mission and that mission is to love and serve your neighbors, co-workers, classmates, roommates, spouses, and those you encounter on a daily basis. That mission may lead us into uncomfortable situations and deep into the unknown, but there is so much joy in following Him. Hebrews 12:2 says, “For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” If Jesus, in joy, endured the cross, how much more can we, with joy, seek Him and follow Him wherever he leads us? He is our joy, our treasure, our hope.
There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to moving to Mexico. Where are we going to live? How are we going to raise enough money? What are we going to do with all of our stuff? It can be overwhelming thinking about all of these logistics, but there is beauty in following Jesus into these unknowns.
The less we know about our specific plans, the more we will be able to trust in God’s promises to keep and guide us. We have nothing to hold onto except for Jesus. What a joy it is to trust in His promises to take care of us!
God’s word tells us to follow Him regardless of the cost. Following Jesus will most likely take us through minefields of change. This means, we never know when some kind of change will happen in our life. We will continue to encounter change — sometimes to the extent to moving to another country. This will be a constant reality for the rest of our lives. The good news is – we can walk through minefields of change with an understanding that God is worthy of our trust. His name is worthy of our lives, regardless of the cost.
Daniel graduated from Liberty University with a B.S. in Communication (2011) and a Master’s of Divinity in Evangelism and Church Planting (2014). He will be serving as the Director of Communication for GEM. Kristen graduated in May 2016 with a B.S. in Elementary Education and will serve as the 4th-grade teacher at the Manantial School. They enjoy playing sports, eating good food with friends, and exploring with their wonderdog, Nala. Above all, they desire to make disciples by making Jesus known in Puerto and around the world. To read more posts on Daniel’s personal blog, click here.