I want to say that this is my story. But really? It’s God’s story. Only God could take scrappy little me and write this God sized dream into reality.
And this story starts 10 years ago.
Little sixth grade sammi- 12 years old. Devout attender of middle school youth group and dedicated participator in all activities and events offered. My heart overflowing with a desire to be a part of something, anything, bigger than myself. Before my little brain could even understand, I see now the intense desire I had to be a part of a bigger story, or maybe, just to make my one story truly count.
One winter night at youth group in early 2007, our leaders began to tell us about the orphanage that they worked at during their summer break from college. They told us that they lived with these boys, that the boys came from horrible backgrounds that we could not even imagine, and that we could make a difference in their lives… us! Little awkward middle schoolers. we could make a difference! we could be world changers!
That night they gave us little cards with a boy’s name from the orphanage on it. We were encouraged to pray for the little boy on the piece of paper. Pray for the boy whose name we were given. Knowing they were a real person with a real life and real story. Right then and there I committed “to saving my babysitting money to go visit these boys in Bolivia”.
That little scrap of paper… has changed my story.
I prayed. I carried that piece of paper around until it literally disintegrated. I journaled about it. I asked God to protect him, help him, and encourage him. I purposed to visit Bolivia as soon as possible to meet this boy who had, by this time, had taken up a big piece of my heart.
However, zealous as I was, the timing just never aligned. Bolivia became a distant dream. As the summer trip dates rolled around year after year, I realized my far off wish was becoming more and more distant. I almost chose to believe that I may never actually make it to Bolivia. But God…
In the summer of 2015 armed with a chunk of undergrad behind me, a wide open summer, and a church willing to let me leave my job duties behind for ten days, I was finally on my way to Bolivia to serve with Children’s Impact Network (CIN). I will never forget the feeling in my heart when our plane touched down. It was a mix of comfort and purposeful weight. I felt free, but also very much aware of the holy ground I was standing on. The ten days flew by and I have journal full of pages upon pages of every detail of every day, my mind wanting desperately not to forget a single moment. I knew, the next time i would be in Bolivia, i would be there more than a fleeting week.
Summer 2016 ushered in the chance to serve in Bolivia for three months with CIN as a missionary intern for all of the short term teams who would be coming from US, just like I did the previous summer. In my heart of hearts, I'm not sure what I was expecting the summer to be like, but it was the summer of my wildest dreams. Even in the hard, sick, and tired moments, I have never felt so purposeful and aware of what God was doing in and around me. We worked hard, laughed hard, and made memories that are forever etched on my heart. Our average days were spent working alongside the teams, hanging out with the boys, and presenting our Sidewalk Sunday School programs in different villages. The wild days were spent grocery shopping for 50+ people, fixing flat tires, walking boys to school and getting lost in city plazas. I have a couple hundred pictures to remind me of all the little moments I never want to forget and a whole bunch of new little brothers, sisters, and friends in Bolivia. Leaving Bolivia was hard but I knew I would be back (again).
Coming home, I felt the Lord nudge me to quit my job in faith. Faith that I could chase my desire be a part of a bigger story and really and truly allow God to write my story. Faith that He would provide the right next step, whatever that would be, in His timing. “Wild and free in Jesus’s name” became my anthem and battle cry. The transition out of my job at Lake Forest Church was a bittersweet reality. Leaving behind my tribe, the families who love me, and my consistent source of income was not easy.
However, through God’s provision and kind faithfulness, I was able to accept a full time job with CIN. I will be serving alongside the very organization that changed my story. The organization that allowed an awkward teenager discover that she could live a great story and make an impact. I will travel all over South America as the Communications Coordinator for CIN and help people to experience, live, and be changed by the very places and people that are forever etched on my heart and have greatly impacted my own story. What a gift it is to now be able to help people add to their own stories in big, God sized ways.
All along I have been able to see God’s guiding hand even when I was confused and wandering. I have seen His faithfulness and kindness, grace and ability to use little me in mighty big ways. I am humbled and excited to begin this new adventure- picking up my life and serving in South America throughout the year is my wildest dream come true. With all the joy and excitement I am also keenly aware of my need for Jesus to provide every detail and dollar for the future. Support raising, packing up, and finding a place to live are all immediate concerns and needs to be met. His faithfulness from the past propels me expectantly into the future.
Would you prayerfully consider partnering with me to make His name known to the nations?
Currently, I am looking for monthly supporters to join me in the ministry that Children’s Impact Network is doing around the world. Not everyone is called to GO, but we are all called to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Your partnership enables me to continue the call on my life, extend the reach of CIN and continue to make His name known all over the world.
All my love,
All images courtesy of Sammi Jo Sharp, Lindsay White and Dany Alvarenga. Please do not share or reproduce without permission.