For nine years, a passion of mine has been helping college students find ways to serve overseas. There is something special about someone who is young, full of potential, passionate about God, and willing to go anyone for Him. They are a blank canvas in many ways; and an overseas experience can change the course of how they invest all the gifts and talents God has given them.
You can imagine my excitement two year ago when Ashley called me. She was a senior in college and interested in serving overseas for two years after graduating. Her primary interest was serving in Thailand. This was perfect because our ministry had a team Thailand that was set up to receive college graduates and plugging them into campus ministry. Or so I thought. Around the time that Ashley and I began to discuss the opportunity in Thailand I found out that the leader for that campus ministry team was moving home. They wouldn’t be around to receive Ashley, or any other college graduates.
This was a disappointment for me. Ashley was a bright girl and would be a great addition for any team. Because of this, I felt some personal responsibility to help Ashley find another ministry in Thailand that she could serve with. What followed was several weeks of back and forth communication with various ministries throughout Thailand. Every time I thought that a ministry opportunity would work out, the door would get shut at the last minute. Time and time again I would have to let Ashley know that I couldn’t find a place for her to serve. After two months of trying, I finally had to tell Ashley that she would need to look at other options in other countries.
This was a big domino falling in our personal journey to Thailand.
I just couldn’t believe that it was possible for a girl with so much to offer wasn’t able to find a ministry to serve with in Thailand. A country full of need. A country that is less than 1% evangelical Christian.
On the other hand, this wasn’t my first time experiencing this story. Over the last several years of mobilizing people into missions, I have run into the reality that a lot of teams just aren’t equipped to receive college grads who lack experience or need development. No matter how much potential a person possesses, some teams just simply can’t break away from their day-to-day ministry to invest in someone who is just beginning their ministry “career.” I use the term career lightly here because many aren’t sure if it will be a career (which is very understandable given the circumstances). You may find that hard to believe, but just know it is a very complicated reality. A reality we desire to fix and one that I will unpack in other posts down the road.
Ashley’s story pushed me to really wrestle with God. I began to ask “Lord, what can be done so that people who are willing and desirous to go serve have opportunities?”
The answer was simple: Go and bridge the gap.