4 Years, 3 Trips, 1 Faithful God

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It occurred to me today [thanks to Timehop!] that at exactly this time both last year and four years ago, I was about to venture off to a different state to follow something the Lord had called me to.

2012: Hampton Beach, NH
2015: Fort Collins, CO

What makes this really cool to look back on is that I'm finding myself in the same position in present day. I've been packing things up [trying to get a head start due to being a chronic procrastinator] to go to a new place. But this time, it's different. This time it's not for six or ten weeks.

This time, I'm moving to my new home.
2016: Newport News, VA

It's so interesting to think that in three separate years, during the same time of the year, I was packing bags and taking big steps of faith - each of them life-changing.

I thought it would be neat to recap each of these times [along with some snapshots] and share a bit about how the Lord called me to them, how they changed my life, and how they each represent moments in my life that cause me to sing His grace.

I first heard about Cru Summer Mission during my time as a student. When you get involved with Cru, it doesn't take very long to hear about how life-changing Summer Mission is from anyone who has ever been on one. When hearing stories from others, I believed it was impactful for them, but all I heard was "You have to go! It'll change your life!" How could they be so certain? Isn't that a little bit of an extreme guarantee?

Well, I gotta say that I am now one of those people. Unashamedly.

I am now the person telling students that going on a Summer Mission will be one of their best decisions in life and will undoubtedly change their lives. Yes, 100% confident enough in it to make that bold of a statement. Not taking advantage of such an opportunity causes you to miss out - big time.

I still remember packing my bags for this trip and having a slight moment of panic as the day to leave soon approached and I realized that ten weeks was a long time. So many unknowns. But I was sure of two things: God called me, and He also provided for me to go. So I packed my bags.

My faith was stretched tremendously during my ten weeks in New Hampshire. I learned that head knowledge is not the same as heart knowledge. I learned that knowing all of the right answers didn't mean I was actually letting the Gospel work in my life. A lot of lies that I believed about myself, others, and God had surfaced, and I was able to explore how those aspects of sin cause me to draw nearer to the Cross and Jesus Himself.

Beyond that, I learned what it meant to live life on mission. Communicating the Gospel to people on a regular basis isn't something that is only designated for full-time missionaries [shocker!]. The Great Commission isn't optional, people. It's a requirement. For all believers.

I came in contact with so many people that summer and had so many spiritual conversations that allowed me to further see the brokenness of the world & that people must know Jesus. That's when the spiritual unrest began. So, all that to say, everyone was right. It changed my life.

Fast forward three years.

Making the choice to go on a Summer Mission opened up the idea of joining staff with Cru as it gave me a lot more exposure to what staff life is like, and it was certainly one of the main things that aided in my decision to intern with Cru at my alma mater, only secondary to the women I led in my Bible study [leading them sealed the deal to my decision].

Interning was only a year commitment [2014-2015], but let's be serious, I was pretty certain during that whole year that I would ultimately decide to join staff. And that's what happened.

I officially joined staff with Cru during the summer of 2015. Yet again I would pack my bags and hop on a plane to a different state - another place I had never been.

Joining staff meant that this was something I was committing to for the long haul - for the foreseeable future or until the Lord called me elsewhere. It would also mean that I would once again go through the process of raising financial support and express further dependence on God to provide for the calling He had given.

So many unknowns. But I was sure of two things: God called me, and He also provided for me to go. So I packed my bags.

The six weeks spent in Colorado further changed my life. I experienced New Staff Training along side 200+ new staff members, some of which quickly became best friends. I learned more about the validity of my faith and the power of the Gospel. I got to be further trained in what it looked like to invite people in on this mission of God changing lives on the college campus. And despite the unknowns and any fears that I had beforehand, the Lord further confirmed that I was walking in the things that He prepared beforehand. [Eph. 2:10]

It was also in Colorado that I found out the exciting news that I was placed on the Tidewater Metro team in Virginia. This meant that I would be moving from an area that I've always known and into uncharted territory. I realized that this would, once again, you guessed it... change my life.

After a summer of training, I returned to Pennsylvania and continued the process of building my team of ministry partners.

This brings me to present day.

This past year hasn't been all cupcakes and rainbows. Walking in God's Will doesn't mean the road will be smooth by any means. But I've seen the Lord act and I'm [after what seems like forever] finally at the tail end of raising support with about 25% left. This entry isn't ending with complete closure because I'm still in the process of raising finances. I'm not yet able to stand on the other side of the finish line, dust my hands off and take a breather after this long marathon. I'm still running. Quite frankly, I'm still trying to breathe and keep a pace in order to finish. But God has been faithful and will continue to be that way.

Do I have fears about this new adventure? Yes. Have I questioned whether or not God will really come through in His provision for me? Yes. It's going to take time to get used to a completely new area that I know next to nothing about. The fact that this place will be my home as opposed to a 6 or 10 week trip has yet to really sink in.

There's so many unknowns. But I am sure of two things: God has called me, and He will also provide for me to go. So I pack my bags.

Jocelyn Hepler