HOW DID I GET HERE?
Born and raised in Hanover County just outside of Richmond, VA, I was blessed to grow up in a home and amidst a larger extended family that went to church and pursued Christ. I walked down the aisle at the age of 8 in my Southern Baptist Church to the hymn “I Surrender All” and the Lord has continued to teach me what that looks like my whole life.
I went to college in Winston-Salem, NC and when it was time to graduate the infamous question was asked over and over again… “So, Rachel, what are you planning to do after graduating?” I wasn’t quite sure I was ready to head back to the small town I grew up in but didn’t know where I wanted to go. Then enters a friend who taught me the beauty of spontaneous adventure. After joking about the possibility for months, we ended up deciding to pull the trigger on moving across the country to California. I ended up working at a church in San Diego and as that season was coming to a close I took a summer job at a camp called Hume Lake Christian Camps. That summer lead to a full time job overseeing their Winter and High School Summer Camp – Ponderosa. I was there for 8.5 years and consider it one of the most amazing and humbling jobs God has ever allowed me to be a part of.
The move to the remote camp in the middle of the Sequoia National Forest was not an easy decision, but one of the unforeseen gifts of taking this job at Hume was how God would show me His heart for the world. Before moving to California, Tennessee was as far west as I had gone and the only countries I had visited were Canada and a few parts of Europe on vacations. While at Hume, I would travel to 2-3 countries a year to document and speak about what God was doing all over the world, as well as run camp for jr. high + high school students of missionaries living in the most remote places. I went to Ecuador, Haiti, Romania, Costa Rica, South Africa and Israel, as well as trips to unreached people in Papua New Guinea, Northern Kenya and South Eastern India. There – amongst the unreached – God did something in my heart.
I had the opportunity to travel to Papua New Guinea seven times in the last nine years and with each trip something happened inside of me. Hearing statistics on the number of people living without the gospel or having access to a Bible is one thing; reading God’s Word and having the head knowledge that God wants to use us as believers to reach them is another; but nothing compares to meeting people face to face and seeing the need with your own eyes. They are real people who within a few short days became friends. Many are living with a real desire to know the truth, but the issue lies in the fact that there are not enough believers willing to go.
“The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved…
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
I’ve known Romans 10 my whole life. I memorized parts of it back in middle school, but the reality is that the writer of Romans is reminding us that it is God’s Word that transforms hearts and yet it is His plan to use us – believers – to bring the Word to those without it so they may hear, believe and call on His Name.
And so began this journey of quitting my job and pursuing the task of bringing the gospel and the written Word of God to an unreached people group in hopes that the Lord would grow a thriving church among them. I don’t know where the Lord will take me ultimately – I am leaving that up to Him to guide and direct me, I am simply choosing to be faithful one day at a time and pray He makes my path clear. There are a lot of moments that I feel very inadequate to do this. I don’t know what it will look like or where I will be or for how long, but every time I stop and ask God, “Are you sure you want me to do this?”, I hear Him respond with “How do you want to serve me with your life?” …and honestly I can’t think of anything else I would want to do more. Life is short. I have one breath of a life. He is worth it. So I keep going.