My husband and I are full-time missionaries with BCM International. As such, occasionally we get asked to participate in various events. A few weeks ago, I was asked if I was available to help out at an evangelistic outreach at City Hall in Philadelphia. A number of Philly churches were coming together to put the outreach on and another non-profit organization was going to be helping out by offering activities for children. The non-profit wanted to use the time wisely and have times set aside for gathering the children and presenting the Gospel to them. That would be my job – the Gospel presenter.
Having just come off our church’s Family Carnival in August, I was definitely prepared. However, I had a lot of misgivings about the event and my knee-jerk reaction was to say ‘no.’ Brian and I discussed it at length and I kept insisting I was the wrong person for the job. Everything in me wanted to say ‘no.’ I argued with Brian. I was convinced I simply couldn’t do it. I had many, mostly legitimate, reasons for saying no.
Then Brian said the one thing that changed my mind: “You would give up the opportunity to share the Gospel with hundreds of children in one day just because you’re scared?”
I said ‘yes.’
Naturally, it seemed like as soon as I said ‘yes’, everything went wrong. The week leading up to the event kept getting worse here at home!
But, I kept being reminded that I was going to Philadelphia to share hope with hundreds of children. It was going to be so worth it.
All the details worked out, and I headed to inner city Philadelphia by myself Friday afternoon. Though having no idea where I was going, I somehow made it to my motel and spent the evening rehearsing and getting some rest.
Saturday was a gorgeous day – sunny and unseasonably warm for late September. I was most nervous about just getting to City Hall and finding the parking spot reserved for me. But, not only did I find the spot, it was literally feet from where I spent the rest of the day, and there was a super kind guy who guided me through parallel parking (something this country girl hasn’t done since my driving test at 16).
From arrival, I had a gut-feeling this day was not going to go like I had planned. Things were different than I had anticipated and crowds, especially of children, were quite a bit smaller than planned. I did present the Gospel, but it was not to hundreds. More like to six. Six beautiful little kids who I don’t think had ever heard that grace is what saves them.
And then… that was pretty much it. Downtown Philly by City Hall is not really the gathering spot for kids. So, around 2:30 I began my trek back to north.
Initially, I was discouraged. This was not what I had been told about or prepared for. This was not the “big event” I had asked everyone to pray about. I didn’t understand how I could “believe God” for something huge and have it fall so flat.
I was creeping along in traffic and needed to kill time, so I put in my kids’ Adventures in Odyssey CD. The two stories I listened to were on Jonah and Jeremiah.
Jonah: A man who was given a clear directive from God and chose to disobey and suffered the consequences.
Jeremiah: A man who was given a clear directive from God and chose to obey, but had zero results for about 40 years of tough ministry.
And then I realized – it’s not about the numbers, the venue, the event, or the presentation.
It’s about the obedience.
Everything in me wanted to say ‘no’ – and I didn’t. Everything in me wanted to stay home – and I didn’t. I went. I trusted God to take care of me as I did this completely alone. Of course, He went above and beyond.
My faith grew as well as my courage. I knew when I put this in my Bible:
…that I was putting myself out there for God to take me serious. I am not brave. I’m such a wimp. I don’t do great things. I get scared – a lot.
But, obedience trumps fear every single time.
The results were not what I had prayed for and expected. But, I got home and Brian kept saying, “But, that part wasn’t up to you. You did your part. You obeyed. That’s all God expects from any of us! Leave the rest to Him.”
So, if you prayed for me – thank you. Initially, I thought your prayers were wasted, but I’m wrong. If nothing else, God showed me again how very much He values obedience.