the trip that changed me

when God spoke in November of 2015 that He wanted me to go to Germany in 2016 and I questioned Him by saying, “why would you send me to Europe?” His quick answer of, “will you just go?” though at the time left me questioning His motives, by the end of my trip had me understanding His prompting.

our God is a God who is faithful to give direction when we lack the ability to see clearly. He shows us things about ourselves even when we don’t even know we need to be shown them.

that was this trip for me.

berlingirls

of course, was I able to witness the love of Jesus to a few people? Yes. did I do the cupid shuffle (yes, you read that right) more times than I ever would have liked to? Yes. did I meet 19+ incredible people who together experienced visiting a concentration camp, loving on Syrian refugee children, running through fountains and biking through the entire city of Berlin? Yes. Did we minister to drug addicts and the homeless, do a combined 24 hours of outreach to some of the most interesting and beautiful people of Germany + Europe? Yes, yes we sure did. And were we loved on by some of the most sacrificial missionaries you will ever meet? Yes, oh yes.

And you might be thinking, well duh – that’s what you went to do, right? And yes, you would be right. anyone who has been on a mission trip has these moments. moments where 20 complete strangers lay down their rights, and choose to serve rather than please their own fleshly comforts. however, our God is so good that He divinely chooses people that together, can sharpen and refine each other. and it was remarkable to see each person’s gifting truly come out. from humor, to depth, to authenticity, to just genuine love and compassion.

i am a better person because of each of these young men and women. 

and it’s among these men and women, that God used a trip to serve, well – to serve me. there was a few parts of the trip that the mission at hand hit closer to home than I anticipated. as i saw God move and the Spirit fall in the ‘Culture District’ of Berlin – God began a surgery that I wasn’t expecting to experience.

when we receive a surgery or operation, it’s usually because something is wrong that either needs to be fixed, removed, or added.

For me it was all of the above. 

berlinliz

God began a work in me in that circle of worshipers in Berlin, Germany that has since changed the woman of God that i am and the one I am becoming. there was parts of my heart that had to be first broken, to then be healed. then God removed parts, because since He was doing ‘a new thing in me,’ the old could not stay. so He removed, only to quickly replace and add back in what was good and better for me and ultimately, was His will and intention all along.

there is beauty in pain.

there is progress in grief.

and there can be restoration in brokenness. 

over the course of the next few days, God used what on the outside looked like hurt – to heal. He resurfaced years and years of rejection, abandonment, anger, and insecurity to then cast them out as far as from the east to the west. you see, these feelings that had stemmed from such an early age had kept me hostage from becoming the sensitive, compassionate, and confident woman that God had always intended me to be.

before this trip, I asked God a really hard question, “do i know how to love?” and His answer, though hurtful at the time, was honest. “No, Jessica – you don’t. But you will.”

and He was right. 

boysberlin

before Before I saw people look at me and say that they loved me, but inside i felt nothing. this isn’t me being dramatic, unfortunately it’s grotesquely true. And worse, because of this I don’t think i ever even received it when God told me He loved me, either.  and maybe that is why God uses me many times to shine lights on the hard areas of people’s hearts. because though it’s painful at the time – transparent and vulnerable conversations can breed so much long-term life.

and well, His process wasn’t what i expected it would be on this trip. the tears i cried matched the pain i saw in so many Berliners eyes’. they – just as much as us – long to experience a love that is unconditional, not based on performance or merit – but based on simple acceptance just as we are. and though I truly believe in sanctifying ourselves daily to become more like Christ – there are too many who just need to know they can come as they are. and well, through my freedom – i’m determined to see other’s know that our God is one abundantly longs to give us this kind of love.   

though i’m still the sassy, Texan, blonde you all know, my heart has been softened in a way that I believe will pave the way for my legacy to experience more love than even I have. and wow, what a gift is that? what a slap in Satan’s face, huh? to think he thought he had won by what he stole from me, by what he took from me – but YET, God with His unfathomable grace and mercy is still in the business of restoration, rebuilding, and reclaiming for His glory and our good. what a God we serve, right friends? #blessed

all this to say, i don’t know if you would call what happened to me a miracle, i’m learning that i don’t need a spiritual label for everything these days (that’ll preach…) – but i will say, i truly believe i’ll never be the same. Berlin, Germany will forever hold a very real and raw piece of my journey. the people that i experienced this trip with, well – i think God’s just getting started there. and the seeds that were planted into many men, women, and children all across Berlin in the 10 days we served? well, only God knows their journey, but we pray that every seed that was planted finds roots, is watered, and grows abundantly so that revival begins in a city that so desperately needs it.

to the trip that changed me. thank you for the memories, the heartbreak, the healing, the stretching, the seeds sown and the lives changed. including mine.

now to more thank you’s…

berlinbike

THANK YOUS…

to each of you who donated and/or prayed for me and the other members of my team – THANK YOU. there is no real way i can repay you, however I can thank you. i can entrust that God will bless what you have sown. and I can tell you fully and genuinely now – that i love you.

to my team. this GWYA Berlin team that came as strangers and left as family, THANK YOU. thank you for loving me even when i was hard to love. thank you for praying for me, even when you yourself needed just as much prayer. thank you for laughing with me (and sometimes at me). thank you for giving it your all, even with sore feet, too much bread, and not enough caffeine. thank you for the ice cream dates, Vapiano’s jokes, and the bike ride + picnic in the garden that i still dream about. you each are called and appointed for such a time as this, and i have NO doubt God is going to continue to work in each and everyone of your lives. don’t ever give up on yourself, and when you do – reach out, i promise I’ll be here to remind you why you’re amazing and why God has chosen YOU to do what only you can do. And then promptly here you say, “same.”

to brad and sam, never will i forget each of your sacrifice that you made in the past 5 months – not just on this trip. you each gave us most of your 2016 and well, we are forever grateful. to the many times you led when you weren’t even trying, when you were patient and kind when you really could have snapped, when you loved well beyond what even you might have been given in return, and when you to lead by truly living out what you say and believe. you both are pure glimpses of Jesus and I know I am forever grateful to know you both.

and may we all keep European Initiative in our prayers as they are still on the ground in Europe, fighting the good fight and spreading the love and name of Jesus. And to Alabaster Jar – your ministry is by far one of my favorites. i’ll forever remember what you do and in heaven, I will gladly be excited to see all those sharing in the goodness of eternity because of your dedication to be the light in the darkest streets of Berlin.

 

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