To live is Christ

By now you all (our little group of loyal readers) know that I (Sarah) am completely open when writing here. You also know that as soon as something really exciting happens, I get right on here with an update because frankly, I am too excited to hold it in! Well, I have to admit, I have been avoiding writing lately. It has been 3 weeks since we received our acceptance letter into the program at YWAM Morogoro in Tanzania. This is a moment that I have been waiting for since I was seven years old and I am so excited! Over the last few weeks, there have been so many questions, tasks and challenges that have come up. We have shared with our friends the process of clearing our items from our home, packing our clothing into bags, and preparing to leave for this incredible adventure. However, I haven’t shared publicly the ways that the Lord is digging into my heart and challenging me to deeper faith.

Before I married Jeremy, I was secure in what I knew my abilities were. I was a soldier in the US Army and assigned to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. I sang at official ceremonies, planned major events, worked with high-ranking officials, escorted celebrities, and (my favorite) served our wounded warriors returning from battle. I lived just outside of Baltimore and commuted over an hour one-way to Washington, D.C. in my beautiful little Honda Civic. My apartment had two bedrooms with original hardwood floors and I purchased brand new dark wood furniture and my very own charcoal grill for the backyard. I was able to live completely debt-free and begin saving money to purchase my own home. This was a very simple season and then God… About 6 months before I met Jeremy, I had been spending an increasing amount of time reading the Bible and realizing I needed to surrender my life in a deeper way to our Creator. I remember specifically having a song on repeat during my hours-long commute to and from work.

“Jesus, all for Jesus

All I am and have and ever hope to be

Jesus, all for Jesus

All I am and have and ever hope to be

All of my ambitions, hopes and plans

I surrender these into your hands

All of my ambitions, hopes and plans

I surrender these into your hands

For it’s only in your will that I am free

For it’s only in your will that I am free

Jesus, all for Jesus

All I am and have and ever hope to be

Jesus, all for Jesus

All I am and have and ever hope to be

Jesus, all for Jesus

All I am and have and ever hope to be

All of my ambitions, hopes and plans

I surrender these into your hands

All of my ambitions, hopes and plans

I surrender these into your hands

For it’s only in your will that I am free

For it’s only in your will that I am free

Jesus, all for Jesus

All I am and have and ever hope to be.”

 

For some reason, this song was so life-changing for me. As I sang this song over and over, I gave my life to God in a new way and released all of my dreams: to own a house, to build a career and earn a bachelor’s degree. In the months leading up to meeting Jeremy, I had so many decisions to make and I am grateful God pursued my heart so I would walk in His calling on my life. A month after my first date with Jeremy, I had to resign from my job. A month after that, I totalled my car. And just 8 months after meeting Jeremy for the first time, I was married, living in his tiny attic apartment, with all of HIS furniture and on complete bedrest with our sweet Emilia growing inside me. This was the first time in my life that all of my abilities and accomplishments didn’t amount to much but a lump in a bed. For the next three years, I was pregnant and on bedrest multiple times and continued to grapple with my value since I felt I had nothing concrete to offer. It wasn’t until I was pregnant and on bedrest a fourth time with our twin boys that I heard the Lord speak so clearly about my value. I was riding in the car on our way to another ultrasound appointment and He said “Remember how much it costs to buy a diamond. Would you pay that much for a rock? I sent my Son to die for you. You are valued more than diamonds.” This solidified in my heart that my value can never again come from what I can do, but it is Christ’s life woven into the very fabric of my identity.

As we prepare to go to Tanzania in August, I have been asking the Lord “Why us? Why me? What could I possibly have to give?” Here in our town and in our church, I know where my strengths lie. I am naturally a social person and I love digging into relationships with people, no matter what walk of life. I would consider discipleship one of my strengths here in the USA however, we are going where I don’t know the language other than “Jambo. Habari yako?”. How can I enter close relationships with a language barrier? I am a worshipper. I sing on our worship team at church and dabble in playing acoustic guitar. In African music, the chords and rhythms are completely different as well. I will spend worship time in Tanzania learning instead of leading for sure. Over the last two weeks, I have asked the Lord “If I don’t have anything to offer, then why go?” The only answer I could hear for days was “because I called you and you said ‘yes’” and then something shifted yesterday. I was feeling my weaknesses in full-force. As I sat on the edge of our mattress in our room sobbing, I cried out to the Lord to show me what I could possibly bring to a nation on the other side of the world. I was struck with the image of Paul sitting in Corinth after his time persecuting Christians. I often wondered how he struggled with guilt or shame. In this moment, when all I can think about are my many weaknesses, all I have left is Jesus. As we enter into this season of full-time ministry, I realize what I wish I knew for years: all we have to offer the world is Jesus Christ. The needs here in Frederick, Maryland are different than they are in Tanzania and therefore, my strengths will change as our home changes. Our family doesn’t carry “our ministry” wherever we go, we carry Jesus. The Lord brings me to 1 Corinthians, chapter 2 for encouragement:

“And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”

So, there it is! I am going to Tanzania in August with my husband and five little kids armed with my Bible and filled with the love of Christ. As we speed towards the day when we will take off towards our future life and ministry, I am also convinced that in my weakness, only Christ is left and that is exactly where I want to be.

For those who are curious, we will be headed to Maine in 10 days to say our “good-byes” to our friends and family there. We will be back in Maryland for only 8 days in August before we leave for Tanzania! This very timely for us since we have felt called to move to Tanzania for 5 years and didn’t know if such an opportunity to train there would be available for a family of 7. In the next week we are having our overseas immunizations done which cost over $2,000 and we want to purchase our plane tickets for around $7,000. God has been faithful to open every door for our family and we know He will continue to do so. In addition, Jeremy and I are sharing during church service at our home church this Sunday the 23rd. Please lift us up in prayer as our church family officially sends us to the United Republic of Tanzania. Our initial time frame for training is 6 months and then we hope to be accepted to a staff position with YWAM in Tanzania. Once we have completed our training, we will begin the process of living there full-time. If you would like to give financially to our family, you can do so via our financial support page. Also, we have attached our Missions Brochure to our Family Updates page which has our timeline and FAQ!

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