Today’s post is written by a CAMA staff member serving in Indonesia.
Today marks the commemoration of 22 years since 9/11. The words, “Thank You, God, that You’re not sending me to a country with that extremist religion,” ring in my head again—words over two decades old laced with gratitude and fear.
I was scheduled to be sent out by The Alliance on September 11, 2001, to go start a small school in Mongolia, and the first leg of my trip was a flight that afternoon from DC to LA. As I was taking my last “US shower” that morning, I had no idea what the rest of the day would entail. I got out of the shower to find several similar messages on my phone—“When do you fly out?!”—along with one particularly poignant message from my Dad—”You’re not going anywhere.” My head started spinning—what was going on? I turned on the TV and saw what many of us did when the Twin Towers were struck, when the Pentagon was hit, and when that plane was downed in Pennsylvania by the hands of professing faithful ones—extremists on a “holy” mission.
We gathered that night with church members to pray and on the way, it hit me—the plane that left DC for LA, the plane that turned around and hit the Pentagon—I was scheduled to be on that same flight, that same airline that afternoon. I could have easily been on that morning flight . . . and yet God spared me. A deep sense of gratitude and mission enveloped my heart. Two thoughts came to mind: He had a purpose for me going to Mongolia . . . and thank goodness it was a country of a different majority faith. A paradox of faith and fear—yet God had greater purposes ahead for me than I knew at the time. I would eventually make it to Mongolia and while serving, I met my husband who had grown up in Indonesia. I thought he was amazing in every way except for one nagging thought—“What if we are called to Indonesia . . . to the people of that religion?!” I just couldn’t shake the thought and hoped that my fears wouldn’t come to fruition.
December 26, 2004—the Indian Ocean Tsunami hit Aceh, Indonesia. Countless lives were forever changed in an instant, including ours. We answered the call to serve the hundreds of thousands who now needed to rebuild their lives in the wake of devastation left by the tsunami, and as we came alongside those in need, God began working on my heart to break down my misconceptions and fears. We’ve now raised our three boys in the only province of Indonesia that practices the strictest, most fundamental form of the majority faith I had once been afraid of. Because of the change He brought in my heart, we had the privilege of working in these communities for 15 years building a team of national colleagues and international workers who continue the ministry to this day.
The Lord not only saved my life on 9/11, but He saved me from my misconceptions and fears. His plans are so far greater than we can anticipate if we’re just willing to take the step of faith that He puts in front of us. What step is He asking of you? May you be open to following Him wherever He leads. It’s worth it.