In August 2015, I packed my bags and headed to the airport. I 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.
About two weeks before 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, not looking back… until God would move me elsewhere. 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 terrible choices. I wasn’t sure what being a Christian meant, other than what not to do. However, I did know there was more to life than a “same-old, same-old” lifestyle, and I heard God’s voice often during this rebellious stage of mine. Talking to Him and praying was never a problem. The actual issue 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 wrong friendships and found new friends (I owe it to them for helping me change for the better!). I finished high school a semester early and went 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 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.
They assigned me to Ukraine, which also meant I had to apply for citizenship for an American passport (I had a Russian one at the time and wouldn’t be able to travel with it there). Come June, I submitted my passport application, and we 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.
As soon as we came back to Alaska, I worked 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 burned out. I felt distant from God and isolated myself from many people. I felt confused, and a little hopeless, thinking life should 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 and our Colorado friend 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 with this and left. I wanted to hear God myself! I prayed 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 pack 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 until I flew into Colorado.
Why Colorado? What about Ukraine? I did not understand. But I remembered my prayer for change and knew 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.
I’ve learned we all go through the “valley” for growth before the next season of life, so it’s essential to trust and seek Him even when we feel distant. 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. May we pursue 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