Over winter break of 2016, I met a man named Tommy.
Within 3 minutes of our conversation, he somehow told me that he had the gift of discernment and that I should surrender my art to the Lord.
His words burned my heart.
Of course I knew to surrender everything to God - but how could I surrender art when he's blessed me with and seems to be encouraging me towards my abilities in art?
What does surrender even mean?
With these thoughts roiling around in my mind, I asked him if we could meet up sometime. Unfortunately, his wife was having a baby, and what with my school and his fatherly duties, we haven't seen each other since. But his words continued to gnaw at me.
During SPO's winter retreat, Fan Into Flame, I decided to ask God for the gift of discernment. If I could only become more attune to hear what God is telling me, and then quickly act on it in confidence!
But sometimes it is the Lord's will to train us towards something, rather than give us his gifts outright.
On Wednesday, February 15, 2017, the Lord gave me something to discern.
It was a typical morning. I was trying to prepare for two presentations I had that day, but my mind kept going elsewhere. Before I knew it, I found myself on Youth With A Mission's website, imaging my life as a missionary like I once did as a child.
A whole swath of emotions came over me - a deep tugging at my heart.
Did I really want to spend my youth absorbed in my own career as an artist?
How come all the men I look up to are on ministry?
What if, instead of doing art full-time, and mission on the side, I did mission full-time, and art was secondary to that?
I recognized three distinct emotions. My heart was pumping with excitement, but I also felt two kinds of fear.
The first was a doubt of self - thoughts like, "I can't do this, I'm not prepared for that, etc." This is a fear that can be surrendered to the Lord, and he will work powerfully through my weaknesses.
The second kind was a fear of losing control. I caught myself trying to figure out my entire future if I decided to become a missionary and how time frames would line up with this and that. That's a fear that also requires surrendering.
Within a few days it became clear to me that the Lord had called me to mission. Well that was easy! Nothing left to say but yes.
But how was I supposed to act on it - that was the real question.
In those next few weeks of discernment, I have never been more desperate to hear the Lord's voice.
I stayed committed to showing him through devotion how badly I needed his help and guidance. I was confident he would answer - he threw my whole life into a ball of yarn; I knew he'd unravel me sooner or later.
Affirmation after affirmation, the Lord told me to take up Youth With A Mission's Discipleship Training School in Denver, Colorado. (YWAM is a large, evangelistic organization serving to know Christ and make Christ known).
From May 8 to October 6, I will be receiving training for three months in Denver before going to Indonesia with the same team for the remaining two.
After Indonesia, I plan to return to Seton Hall and focus primarily on mission during those next few months - plugging in and building up the other guys I'm living with, as well as reaching out to students on campus. In the Spring, I will resume studies and graduate on time, ready for whatever the Lord has for me next.
During this whole discernment process I have been blessed with communities and mentors who have been so willing to come alongside me and help steer me towards the Lord's voice. I have never felt so supported.
Now, I have a deep desire to create long-lasting relationships with the people who are willing to support me on a journey of mission - spiritually, financially, and practically.
If you would like to support me on this journey of mission, please give me a call or send me an email.
I'd love to get to know you.