“Why do you believe in God?”
The drizzle of rain and sputtering puddles around the city glistened outside the metropolitan burger joint. I was in Brooklyn with Suzi; one of my dear friends from the Peace Corps, and sipping a peanut butter shake. I swallowed the sweet concoction and paused to answer the question with articulate conviction. I thought, “I can’t really describe it,” and the words felt hard to form. Later, while hiking in Buena Vista, I found the two sentences I had been seeking in that moment,
He has never failed me. He has never left me.
My belief rests here and is then planted, rooted, and grown because of who Jesus calls us to be in our faith with God. Never again do I want to fumble when someone asks me why. It is a story, yes, but the beauty of our relationship with God is being able to share it.
In Him and by Him and for Him, all things hold together. – Colossians 1:16
Because brokenness manifests itself differently in our lives, the consequences develop in a multitude of ways. In my own life, control has gripped my heart and often directed my path. On the surface, it’s not so troubling – I succeeded in my drive to be the best athlete I could be, completed a degree at a prestigious college, and blossomed in development work as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer in Rwanda. I love people, working hard, and maintaining many fruitful relationships. Yet, often I have done all this to mask my own pain and hurt. If I could manage it all – in my own strength – I would be just fine, right?
For the past 3 years He has patiently and intentionally dismantled every notion of my own power. He used Rwanda in particular to reveal this to me. More miraculously, He used one of His daughters, Divine, to speak enough wisdom into my life that I could begin to accept what God really has for me.
We bickered once over something silly. She was washing clothes in a basin just perfectly, and when I came alongside her and she tried correcting my form, I got mad. The blue soap continued to press and push in her hands until she dropped it and water plopped near her elbows as she stood up, looked in my eyes, and said, “Heather, you are not perfect, you cannot be perfect… why do you try so hard? You have a fear to be weak. But you have Jesus. You can be calm and rest. Don’t fear, my friend.”
Wow. Talk about truth in your face.
That’s how Rwanda was entirely. The joys, the students, the pain, and the poverty. Yet, by becoming a part of that community, I had to release my own assumptions, desires, and will. I just was and freely accepted what was becoming. When I came back home, my faith in The Lord grew out of totally necessity, but my belief in myself diminished.
Who was I? …What now?
It became a year of deep pain too. Questions of identity, issues with eating properly, pain from watching my brother work through his own issues, and a loss of overall belonging nagged and drug on.
However, in the last year I also depended on God more than ever, found a church home, and began to write and share about this cultural and faith struggle more and more. I began to realize how blessed I have been through it all and that He has always provided.
At 26, for me, God wants more.
Wired to passionately serve with others from all different places, I must submit my control, my broken heart, and my fear of vulnerability to do so in the name of God. I must forge on with a recommitted heart. And so, I will be committing 2 months this summer to The Experience.
The Experience is a 58-day equipping program that takes a group of young adults through training, ministry, life planning & coaching. Practical skills training will be the focus for the first several weeks in Denver and this will continue in travel overseas to understand cross-cultural ministry in application. The commonality of all sustained relationships I have built cross-culturally – be it in Vietnam, Ghana, or Rwanda – has been God Himself.
The Experience will expound upon that even further. Following time overseas, the program will send us to serve as leaders of a summer camp for youth exploring Jesus in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Towards the end, our team will work across the United States in ministry opportunities before spending the final phase learning in depth who God made me to be as I prepare to continue my work across cultures.
The Experience is unique and presents itself at a timely point in my life.
Later this Spring when tax season comes to a close (!!), I will finish my time with the financial firm I have been so fortunate to work with this past year. Then, I will begin The Experience from mid-May to mid-July. Following this commitment and beginning in late July, I will resume working cross-culturally as I begin a full-time position with The Women’s Bakery – (click to find out more!) a parent organization that oversees independent and women-operated bakeries in East Africa by providing training, ongoing support, and education. I will work from the United States, but inevitably, will develop relationships across cultural and social lines. Continuing this ever-present passion, I realize that for myself, God must be at the source of it. The Experience will help me do that.
Whatever it is that God has planned for me, it can only be realized with the help of others. Prayer is of the utmost importance as I allow God to lead me and submit to my own plans, power, and control. If you can please pray for this program and my journey through it the next few months that would be greatly appreciated.
Also, I would ask that you prayerfully consider financially partnering with me regarding this training and equipping opportunity.
The cost for the program itself is $5600. This includes housing (I will be living with other program students for the duration of the two months), food, international and domestic travel, teaching, and any needs I would incur during my time in training. Additionally, I will be seeking support to help cover my expenses while I am not living at home (including my rent, loan payments, health insurance, and the Rwanda girls’ education). Those costs equal $2400.
It’s mighty expensive, but as my mother was quick to assure me: this is the life of a missionary.
Whether that becomes the final road I take is uncertain, but as a member of our striving “beloved community”, I hope you can think of this as an investment of resources into people, a movement, and changed lives. It’s an educational experience that allows God’s love to develop and grow.
If you are able and willing you can support me here: http://kbm.donorpages.com/TheExperience/HeatherNewell/
You may also write a check to Forge and mail it to: 14485 E Evans Ave., Denver, Colorado 80014.
You can include my name “Heather Newell” in the memo.
If you have any questions, or would like to speak further, please call, email, or visit me on my blog website listed below. You can also learn more about Forge and refer to their annual guide at: www.forgeforward.org/annual-guide.
Thank you, love you, and God Bless,