Guest Post: Hi, my name is Casey.
As typical with our job, we get the awesome opportunity to lead all kinds of mission teams from North America. My first team of the summer season was a group of Engineers from Engineering Ministries International, Canada. The group consisted of 11 members one of whom I feel like could be my long lost sister. Her name is Casey. She is an amazing girl, full of life, humor joy and most of all, talent. I loved spending time with this team and after reading her blog post about her experience (read it here) I knew I needed her to be our first guest past-participant blogger. Thank you Casey for sharing your heart with us. Thanks for opening up and helping me start this long awaited series off on the right foot.
Hi. My name is Casey. I have only 21 years of life experience under my belt, and I’m still in school. I’m not very wise and I’m no great orator or writer with today’s thought provoking word or piece of advice. I have yet to read the entire Bible, and probably have read maybe one of the “great classics” that are supposed to make you super sophisticated or something if you’ve read them. I’ve never led someone to Christ. Sometimes my faith is very small. And I mess up A LOT. I’m your average college student (minus the coffee addiction), with more dreams than life experiences or money. And I have no idea what I’ll be doing a year from now. Have I failed the checklist yet? Regardless of my weaknesses, my inexperience, and a career path outside of the typical realm of ministry, God still chooses to use me and work some pretty incredible things in my life. Because of Christ, I have a story to tell, and it starts here:
When I was in eighth grade, I put away my veterinary aspirations (praise Jesus for divine intervention) and decided I wanted to be an architect. My intent was to one day run my own firm—I even thought I would get a business degree alongside architecture “to make me more marketable.” Never, and I mean never, did ministry or missions ever cross my mind or play any part in my 10 year plan. Fast forward a few years and here I am—heading into my final year of architecture school with just a few more years experience and some growth under my belt. And, get this: I’m a missionary. Over the past two years, God has been radically reshaping my perspective and the reality I live in…”broadening my horizons” I suppose you could say. Which I guess is supposed to happen when you go off to college and begin the “journey to finding yourself.” But really what happened was I began to see things beyond myself. I began to see need. I began to see how big God is and just how small I am. How much bigger the world is outside of my own little bubble and how much bigger even than that God is. God continually opens my eyes and my heart wider and wider to how big His heart is for me and for the people in this world, and how much he wants my heart to grow for them as well.
This summer, I have had the incredible opportunity to intern with an organization called Engineering Ministries International in Calgary, Canada. eMi is a Christian non-profit organization made up of design professionals who donate their time and skills to design desperately needed facilities in developing countries. They have worked on over 1,000 relief and development projects in more than 90 countries since they first began in 1982, and are constantly trying to work themselves out of a job, not by giving free handouts, but by empowering others to live and serve others. Pretty cool, right? (This is my shameless plug for eMi…Google us!)
As a part of my internship experience, I had the opportunity to travel to Haiti with an eMi team in June to begin the process of designing a new orphanage and guest house for Life Is Hope Orphanage in Port-au-Prince. It was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. In 10 short days, I came to love the people and the country of Haiti, and I saw God building his kingdom (almost quite literally) through engineers and architects. We connected with the ministry and spent time with the children, but we didn’t come to Haiti for the purpose of putting in our share of physical labor or playing with the kids every day. We didn’t come specifically to go out sharing the gospel, provide medical care, teach, clean, repair houses or any of those kinds of things. We came in the way God created us to come—using the gifts, skills, talents, and passions that he gave us.
You see, serving God doesn’t necessarily mean travelling halfway across the world to share the gospel with the people of a foreign nation. If that’s your calling, awesome. If not, don’t sweat it. Serving God doesn’t mean abandoning your passions, skills, and interests—He gave them to you! He made you the way you are, and with good reason! I saw God use my passion for architecture in a really cool way while I was in Haiti. Our team was able to help the people in the community and children of Life Is Hope in a way that many others can’t—to offer expert advice and design work that has the ability to empower them to better serve God using their skills, passions, and interests. And your skills, passions, and interests have the capacity to serve God and empower others to more effectively use their skills. It’s kind of like a chain reaction.
Sometimes it’s hard to see. Sometimes it’s easy to feel guilty or useless because you don’t have that passion or skill that seems to be more useful, or maybe you don’t feel the pull to travel and “do missions.” That’s ok. You’re still just as much a missionary as those who are travelling around the world or are engaging in vocational ministry. Whether you work in an office, a hospital, a kitchen, the great outdoors, or in your home, you are a member of the body Christ working together for one big picture purpose.
“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.” –Romans 12:4-6
There are opportunities to serve both internationally and in your own backyard, to work and serve with love and integrity in whatever field it is you’re in. Even giving is a form of serving God—enabling those serving in vocational ministry to use their gifts to serve others.
Whatever you do, you are still an open vessel ripe for God’s work. Does it look different? Of course. My experience involved a whole lot of time in a garage sitting in front of a computer, sweating bullets in tropical Haitian heat. It doesn’t sound very exciting or glamorous or much like your usual mission trip experience, but it’s part of His work. I’ll admit, I had moments where I didn’t feel like I was doing much, but when it all came together and the team was presenting to the ministry, and they were so excited to be able to tangibly see their vision come to life because we served using our God given gifts—that’s where the picture really started to piece together. Where I began to see that even though our team isn’t providing directly for their needs, not caring for the children or the community on a daily basis, or even physically building new facilities, the work we are doing is helping local Haitians shape and change the larger picture of their own community. We are a small piece of a puzzle inside the astronomically larger puzzle of God’s Kingdom.
I’m not certain where the gifts I’ve been given will take me, but I’m opening myself up to be placed in the right position. About a year ago, I decided that I was going to begin preparing my heart and become the best equipped I possibly can for the work God is calling me to do, whatever that might be. I dropped the business degree, but I could still end up owning a firm one day. Whether I work in missions, in an office, or in a completely different field, I still believe that God will be using me in that. I will still be a missionary, and I will still be a key player in the body of Christ.
I may be just a college student. I may not know what’s going on half the time, but I bet if you were being honest for a moment, you don’t either. And that’s exactly what makes for some seriously powerful kingdom work. We’re all just ordinary folks doing ordinary things backed by an extraordinary God doing extraordinary things through our ordinary obedience. And when we work together like the team we were created to be, each of us offering the gifts we’ve been given and genuinely investing in and encouraging our “teammates?” That’s when we begin to change the world. Look at the gifts and the love you’ve been given, and do you—join in. The team needs you.
“Hi, my name is ______.” is a guest post series inspired by a girl named Casey. Casey went on a mission trip to Haiti in June 2013 for 10 days with Bethany as her trip leader. Her response after returning home (found here) spurred us to look at our trips, Haiti and missions from the other side. This post is 100% the authors own words, work and inspiration. Thank you for your love and support.