myMISSION Young Professional Blog

Recognizing the Humanity in Refugees

Refugee. It’s a heavy word laden with nuances in our world. There are so many types of people who fall into this category—those who are fleeing war-torn countries or persecution and those who need respite from poverty and famine.

But the meaning of the word refugee doesn’t stop there. Mention the word once in a group of people, and politics inevitably comes into the conversation. People have their opinions about the plight of refugees and what everyone should do to address it. Let’s be real, though: behind the word refugee is a human being. There’s a woman fleeing war to protect her children. There’s a man moving his family to ensure their survival during a time of famine.

Every person who becomes a refugee is a human life precious to the Lord. In the past couple of years, God has been working on my heart to ignore the political rhetoric and Facebook debates and focus only on His hurting children. If we are to live a missional lifestyle, then we must set aside societal prejudices and discover ways we can help save the lives of the people God loves.

How to Pray When You’re Not Good at Praying

With the lights turned off and the blankets tucked right under my ear, I lay my head down on the pillow and get ready to say my nightly prayer. And then . . . crickets.

The pressure to say everything correctly and remember every prayer request weighs me down to the point where sometimes I just close my eyes and go to sleep instead. On the nights when the pressure isn’t quite so heavy, I pray through stilted sentences that feel far too formal. Or I get frustrated that I keep repeating things because I don’t know what else to say.

Prayer shouldn’t be this hard.

If you’re like me, speaking out loud (even in your head) doesn’t come naturally. The pressure to pray correctly becomes a hindrance in your prayer life, and you start to feel distant from God because you don’t know how to communicate.

Let me tell you something: It’s OK. God understands you. He knows you. Don’t get in your own way. Prayer is too important to give up on, especially when it comes to living a missional lifestyle. Everything must start with prayer.

Natural Conversations

I love my electric pressure cooker. It allows me to have the “set it and forget it” aspect of a slow cooker, but the food gets cooked in 1/3 of the time. And, the truth is, it doesn’t take much for me to want to tell you about it. That’s because I use it all the time and I think the results are miraculous. I can tie it into almost any conversation and I’ve been convicted recently about not doing the same with my relationship with Christ.

Why on earth would a pressure cooker be easier for me to discuss with people than the God Who saved me? I could give many reasons, but the most honest answer is that I spend more time focused on the trivial day-to-day things than I do my relationship with Christ.

When it comes to connecting our relationship with Christ to everyday conversation, the most natural way to do that is to be in relationship with Christ. Study the Bible every day. Pray without ceasing. Don’t be afraid to share with others about the difference those habits make in your life. That last one is the hardest for me. I’m constantly afraid of being judged as ungenuine. I question my own motives and if I’m questioning, surely others are, too, right?

Real-Life Relationships and Hospitality

I’ve been “taken in” by friends a few times in my life. This has ranged from moving into a friend’s basement for 2 weeks between gaps in apartment leases to my campus minister allowing me to be in her home regularly. In each extreme, I was able to better observe what “real life” in my friends’ lives looked like. My campus minister walked through the single, dating, and engaged phases in a 3-year span in my life. I learned more about how to conduct myself in each of those stages because of my time with her. My friend who lent out her basement also opened her home. I was engaged at the time and got a glimpse of what life as a wife, mother, and full-time employee looked like. In each situation, I was inspired to walk into the next phase of my life with more grace and understanding than when I started.

My Story

I came to know the Lord when I was 7 years old. Many people in my life were getting baptized, including my mom, and I had questions. The more I learned about that public profession of faith, the more I desired to have faith of my own. I began to understand what trusting Jesus meant, and knowing Him at such an early age changed my life. I am not perfect, but I am graciously forgiven for my sins and able to wake up every morning knowing that Jesus’ mercy to me is new each day.

I love my story, as simple as it is, because it is my story. A nonbeliever can argue all she wants about her hesitancy to believe in God, but no one can tell me my story isn’t true. No one can tell me the Lord didn’t change my life. Every day is proof that He did. It’s why our stories are important.

Don’t Follow Your Heart

“So, where are you going to college?”

“What’s your major?”

“What kind of job are you looking for?”

“Graduate school on your mind?”

“Are you going to marry him?”

“Where will you live?”

“So, do you have a five-year plan yet?”

I’ve been asked all of these questions—some more than a few times—over the course of the last eight years. Maybe they sound eerily familiar to you. Maybe you remember the panicky feeling clouding those questions more than the people who asked them. Maybe you’re desperate to answer a few of them right now.

I teach high school students who are just on the cusp of the top of that question list. They tend to answer questions with feelings, a follow-your-heart approach.

“I just felt at home on that college tour.”

“We have been going out for a year. I just feel like he’s the one.”

“I don’t feel important. I feel like I should be doing something different.”

Open Up: The Risk of Rejection Is Worth the Reward

My uncle is a local radio disc jockey. He’s one of the sweetest guys I know and truly cares about the people in his life. However, one of my family’s favorite pastimes is to watch him in a public setting. He has go-to nicknames for each gender so it seems like he knows who people are even if they’ve never met. The thing about my uncle is that he’s really great and everyone likes him but not everyone actually knows him.

When it comes to building the kind of relationship needed to invest in others, people have to know you. That’s a scary thought, often with this main concern: “What if they don’t like me?” But the risk is worth the reward.

In this case, the risk is being liked and the reward is a gospel-centered, kingdom-changing relationship. See? The risk is worth it. Now, if this sounds like a devotional for a middle-school girl, I apologize. But honestly, most of us (myself included) are still afraid of the rejection that comes with opening ourselves up to the point where we earn the right to share the gospel.

Listening Is like Exercise

I’ve lived in Birmingham, Alabama, for 12 years. Moving here was scary. It was the largest city I’d ever called home. I went to college with my roommates but had never lived with any of them before. Nonetheless, I took the leap. And it was terrible. I’ll spare the details but, as a result, I began to suffer from mild depression. I needed to talk to someone and work through what I was experiencing. I needed that individual to have no personal stake in my situation.

So, I found a Christian counselor. We talked about what was happening in my life, what had happened in my past, and what I wanted for my future. She gave me the confidence to face some issues, overcome some fears, and remember what true surrender to the Lord looks like. I moved out of that apartment. It was lonely and scary, but it was the right thing to do.

Since that phase of my life, I have tried to be the kind of friend and ministry partner who knows when others need to talk and is available to listen. And the trick to listening is that it’s like exercise. You have to do it to get better at it.

Make an Impact for the Kingdom

As a young professional, you’re probably working hard to make ends meet. (Maybe your ends meet just fine, but that hasn’t always been the case for me.) When you work hard to earn every penny, it probably means your two most valuable resources are time and money. You have to spend 40-ish hours a week at work, so the time you have left you want to spend relaxing, hanging out with friends and family, or participating in your favorite hobbies. These can all be good, God-glorifying things. Why the pressure to invest your precious moments in other people? Because people matter to God.

A New Kind of Confidence

Exactly two years ago I joined a new small group—a “missional community.” I was somewhat uneasy jumping into the experience. I had just begun my first semester of graduate school while working a full-time job, and I was tired all the time. However, my boyfriend (my now husband . . . so this story ends well!) invited me to join this like-minded group of college students and young adults. I might not have walked into it with a humble heart, but I certainly ended with a wider, more urgent perspective.

One of the main ideas behind the group was to learn how to share our faith more effectively and hold one another accountable to do so. We met formally once a week, but challenged each other to pray together purposefully and spend at least two hours each week with the lost. While I was not totally new to some of the evangelistic tools or concepts, I was cut open freshly by the passion for the lost in my group’s prayers.

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