In August of 2015, I packed my bags and headed to the airport. I had just found out twelve hours earlier I was leaving. I didn’t know why or for how long, but I knew this – God was doing something radical for me.
Just a couple of weeks prior to this, I was in Alaska (my hometown), working hard and saving up for a missions trip to Ukraine. My plan was to go there one-way, no looking back… until God would move me. I thought this was a courageous and godly idea at the time but looking back now, I’m thankful I didn’t go through with it. God had a detour and it was a way better plan than mine!
Let me back a bit – I grew up in a Christian family and accepted Jesus as my Savior when I was about eight years old. But when those teenage years rolled around, I hooked up with the wrong crowd and made bad choices. I wasn’t really sure what being a Christian meant, but I did know there was more to life than a “same-old, same-old” lifestyle. I heard God’s voice quite often during this rebellious stage of mine. Talking to Him and praying was never a problem. The real problem was I didn’t listen to Him. I consciously sinned and lived a double-life.
Everything about my life seemed wrong. I had one foot in the church and one foot in the world. My relationship with my parents wasn’t great either. But when I turned seventeen, I got fed up with how I lived. I left the bad relationships and found new friends (I owe it to them for helping me change for the better!), and did my best to make the right choices. I finished high school a semester early and decided to go to Bible school to “get back on track.” I wanted to regain my parents’ trust and build meaningful relationships before I stepped into adulthood.
So, in January of 2015, I went to a missionary Bible school with one of my best friends. I learned what it truly meant to follow Jesus and recommitted my life to Him. I was all in and asked God to make every day an adventure from then on. Request granted! Fast-forward to May when we all graduated the program, we had an evening called “reveal night” which meant we’d find our mission-ground countries.
I was assigned Ukraine which also meant I had to apply for citizenship for an American passport (I had a Russian one at the time). Come June, I submitted my USCIS application and the students parted ways. Several students went home, others went to their assigned countries, and I… went on a family road trip across the U.S. (from Alaska to Florida). We made a week-long stop in Colorado and reunited with our old-time friends. It was a really memorable trip with a lot of family bonding time.
As soon as we came back to Alaska, I started working to save money for Ukraine. I worked full-time, fund-raised, studied for the citizenship test and did Bible studies with my younger brothers. This was a great routine that helped me stay focused for a bit. My drive to work took about 45 minutes and I usually prayed during it.
After a few weeks of total “go-mode,” I started to burn out. I began to feel distant from God and isolated myself from a lot of people. I was confused and a little hopeless, thinking life was supposed to be different now… so, why wasn’t it? I prayed and asked God to move radically in my life ASAP. I wept on my way to work the day I prayed this. He became my only hope in everything and if I didn’t get an answer, I feared I would go back to my old lifestyle!
A few days went by and as I got home one evening, my parents sat me down to ask how I was doing. They always saw right through me, even when I rebelled. They knew something was up and told me they’ve been praying for me. My dad even saw a vision by the Holy Spirit earlier that day. Our friend from Colorado also called them, saying I came to her mind during prayer time. They all felt I needed to leave Alaska and bought a ticket to Denver.
I got so frustrated I got up and left. I wanted to hear God myself! I started to pray and got an idea to call my boyfriend to get my own confirmation. I just KNEW he would say “no way.” After all, I was away for half a year. I explained to him the situation and his response was not at all what I expected. Ruvim said it had to be God!
As I’m hanging up the phone with him, my mom knocks on the door saying, “I know you’re trying to be spiritual… but you might want to start packing now. You leave tomorrow.” Twelve hours later I was on the plane, headed for Denver. I was in a blur from the moment Ruvim said this was from God.
Why Colorado? What about Ukraine? I had no idea. But, I remembered my prayer from a few days ago and knew this, God was doing something radical. As the plane dipped its nose for landing, I looked out the window and heard God say this was home; my new mission ground.
God plucked me out of Alaska and planted me in Colorado. Life has taken more radical turns in the most adventurous ways since – read about what happened next here.
I’ve learned we all go through the “valley” for growth before the next season of life so it’s important to trust and seek Him even when we feel distant. May we seek Him and remember the radical wonders He’s done for us all!
Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face continually. Remember His wonders which He has done… Psalms 105:4-5