In Matthew 28, right before Jesus ascends into heaven, he leaves his disciples with the command to "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." As a disciple of Christ, the Lord has brought me to Izmir, Turkey to make disciples in a nation where 99% of the population identifies themselves as Muslim. However, the form by which I am doing this is unique, and one that still makes me shake my head in awe at how the Lord works.
I grew up a missionary kid, so missions has always been a part of my life. However, it wasn't always a love of mine. No, growing up my first love was football; I lived and breathed the sport. Coming out of high school, though, the Lord confronted me with a tough decision: Would I pursue my passion for the game and attend a university in Minnesota at which I could have continued playing, or would I attend a small Christian college that had a very strong ministry program, but didn't have a football team....To me the decision seemed easy: go play football! But the Lord made it clear to me that choosing that college would not only be selfish, but outright rebellion. So, with more questions than answers, I gave up playing the sport I adore and headed off to college to pursue missions and youth ministry degrees.
As a freshman in college, I thought that God had asked me to give up football to follow Him, and while I wasn't happy about it, I accepted it as his will. What God planned to do, though, was beyond my wildest dreams. Over the next four years at this university, God gave me my own love and passion for missions through the people I encountered and the experiences I was fortunate enough to have. But I still didn't have any idea what exactly God wanted me to do. I had a heart for the lost, but no specific country, language, people group, or even form of ministry. All I knew is I wanted people who didn't have the hope and joy of Christ to experience him, and I knew my strengths would play out in a relational type ministry. Then, this past February, God brought Go Corps into my life, and they informed me about an opportunity to not only come to Turkey, a place where Jesus is not known, but to come and form relationships with fellow players as an American football coach and player!
I'm still in awe over how God works. Four years ago I thought God was taking away something I loved dearly, football. But that wasn't the case at all. Rather, God took me away from football for a time to develop in me other passions and skills, so that later, He could give football back to me and use it in a way that would glorify Himself and not me. I'm so humbled to be serving such a good and loving God who cares about me personally, and I'm thrilled to be able to boast about Him to my new friends here in Turkey.