i said no. but then i changed my mind.

“no. no. nope.  absolutely not.”
that was response last week.  off the cuff, quick as could be – nope.  my reason?  it would be uncomfortable, inconvenient. my support account is in the red. i have a different plan.  a responsible plan.  not to mention what it might do to the people i love most.  the emotions.  leave?  again?  nope.  not gonna happen.

pretty quickly i realized what a cop out answer i had just given.  that i had no real reason to not at least ask the question of the lord.  “what if?” what if you did provide?  what if i did love it?  what if my inconvenience catapulted me into something great?  what if i fell in love with these people?  what if i came alive again?

yeah, but.

but what if people think it’s stupid?  what if i can’t do it?  what if the money doesn’t come in?  what if people get hurt in the process?  what if i’m not responsible?

yeah, but.

what if the nations are changed?  what if people get healed?  what if college kids come alive?  what if you told them who they are?  what if you were stretched again?  what if you were supported?  what if you were loved and encouraged anyway?

ultimately, i felt like God gave me permission to do whatever i wanted to do.  “ashley, do the thing you want.  the thing that will make you come alive. you have something to offer.  you have something to give.  do what you want to do.”

it’s been an emotional week.  a week filled with so many conflicting emotions.  emotions that i don’t really know what to do with.   a week of great rejoicing and a lot of tears.  a lot of hard conversations and decisions that, really, i wish i didn’t have to make.  a lot of thankfulness. a lot of questions.  few answers.

but, at the end of it – the only answer that mattered was my “yes.”  yes.  i’ll do this. yes. i’ll be all in.  yes. i’ll commit to 23 of my new favorite people.  yes.  i’ll choose to be uncomfortable.  yes. i’ll trust that this can be good – even in the midst of the stuff that, right now, seems anything but good.  yes.  yes. yes.

let me introduce you the amazing people i said yes to.  these 23 crazy people are a part of our passport immersion team.  they’re 17-21 years old and they’ll be going to the nations for 9 months.  these guys are putting off school for a year, selling cars and horses, leaving their families, friends and comforts all because jesus asked them to.  they said yes to that.  the least i could do is say yes to them.

 i’ll be squad leading this incredible crew. 
my last day in the marketing department will be august 10th.  i’ll go home for a week to see my family and meet with my amazing supporters (that’s you!) and then come back to georgia before we launch in september.  i’ll be with them for the first four months of their journey; discipling them, loving them, ministering with them and to them, setting them up to finish their journey well.  we’ll be in honduras for the first three months and then i’ll help transition them to thailand where they will be for three months before heading to south africa to finish their journey.  i’m beyond excited about the opportunity.  i can’t even begin to tell you how thankful i am for the chance to love them and pour out the stuff that’s been brewing in me for what feels like so long.

would you pray for me?  would you pray for incredible peace as i walk through this season?  pray for my squad.  pray for my co-leader, david.  pray for my family and friends as we say goodbye again.  pray for the funds to come in.  pray about how you can help.  pray for my gainesville people and the transitions we’re all walking through.  pray for direction about what to do after this.

i cannot express how much i appreciate all of the support and encouragement you offer.  it means the world to me.  it keeps me going.  blessings as you each navigate and decide what god is asking you to say “yes” to.

how i was called to the mission field.

we were asked to write a blog about how we were called to the mission field. here’s my story…

i didn’t grow up in a christian home so the idea of missions or any kind of ministry was really never a thought in my mind. i gave

my heart to the Lord when i was twelve but i didn’t really start to foster my relationship with Him until i was in high school. i became really involved in young life and had some key people teach me what it was to live a life in pursuit of the lord and what he had for me. the lord used the next few years to begin shaping me into who He wanted me to be and helping me deal with a lot of baggage i still had from growing up. when i came to evangel i gained a family [a few of them, really] who have showed me what it means to take your life, and all that it entails, and allow the Lord to use it for something great.

my freshman year of college i had the great privilege of going on a spring break missions trip to jamaica. we stayed at an orphanage and brought something like a VBS to them for the week. we also did service projects such as painting and yard work. during that week the Lord really opened my eyes up to a bigger world outside of myself. i fell in love with those kids and could not shake the things i saw. i was asked to lead that same trip the next year. again, the Lord really did a work in me and continued to break my heart for His people. while my two trips to jamaica were definitely formative i never had an ‘a ha’ moment where i realized this might be what the Lord would have me do.

my junior year my best friend alesha and i decided we wanted to lead a spring break trip to greece. i’ll admit, my motives were not entirely pure when i first signed up to do this. i knew i wanted to lead a trip again and i thought, why not greece. it seems pretty there. i had no idea what i was getting myself in to! so, we went to athens and had an incredible time. we met so many great people and have continued to build relationships with them. i love greece and definitely left a part of my heart there. there is just something about the culture and the people that makes me feel at home. i hope to be back there someday.

so, fast forward to the world race. like i said in my bio, i came across it last spring. it sounded like a neat idea and it was definitely something that would fit me. however, it seemed a little bit crazy. i tried to put it out of my mind and i just couldn’t. after a lot of prayer i thought, “why not? i’m a crazy person.” so, i sent in the application and watched the rest unfold [rather quickly, i must say] and here i am. i don’t know that i was ever “called” to this trip or missions at all for that matter. i feel like i am called to people who don’t know about Jesus. i’m called to give of myself and my resources, . the world race is the avenue, for this next season of my life, that the Lord is allowing me to give. i was at a conference over new years eve and someone was talking about isaiah and how the lord never really ‘called’ him. isaiah recognized a need and volunteered to go. so, that’s kind of how i feel. i don’t believe there is anything more important than being the hands and feet of Jesus and leading others into a relationship with Him. so, that’s what i hope to do. on the world race and for the rest of my life; wherever i’m at.