“Laura, why are you moving to Canada?”
“Because God told me to.”
The summer after my first year at university I went to visit my brother who had recently moved to Canada. I’d been before as a kid but could not remember anything about it! (Much to my parent’s delight after spending a fortune to bring us out there!) I spent the 5 weeks there just holidaying, visiting family and seeing around the place. It was beautiful. During my 5 weeks I attended a church in the local area. One Sunday morning an older lady came up to me and we started chatting. I remember her getting really excited and saying “You’re Irish so you must know about the Faith Mission? They’ve a camp around here would you like to go visit it?”
Okay. Disclaimer- yes I did know of the Faith Mission but I didn’t know much about the Faith Mission. So we went up to Campbellville to visit the camp- I’d never been to a camp before so this blew my mind. We drove up the driveway and there were kids running around on the grass outside, swinging off trees, sitting at the picnic tables chatting. It was the classic ‘kids camp’ experience. I got to meet some of the staff, sit in on the chapel time and see the general happenings of camp life. In that moment, I was converted. I knew I wanted to be part of this at some point. Before I left I chatted with the boss and I remember him clearly saying in a jokey way “Sure, who knew you’d be popping up to Campbellville when you came over for a holiday!” and the lady that took me replied “The Lord did.”
That was the start of my Faith Mission in Canada story. One meeting, one evening, one simple conversation, one stirred heart.
As we drove away I prayed “Lord, I’d really like to serve here one summer.” My heart had fallen in love with Canada.
My brother took me to the airport and as I was at the check-in counter he asked; “You looking forward to going home?” I started to cry and said; “No, I’m dreading going home, I love it here!” This was so out of character for me. I was a home-bird. I loved Northern Ireland. I wasn’t a fan of travelling. I knew then that God was starting a work in my heart.
I got home to not-so-sunny Northern Ireland, went straight back into my second year of university, youth work and life. But I kept daydreaming about Canada. I just knew I was supposed to go and serve at camp so I booked my flights for the following summer and served for 4 weeks there. This was the game-changer for me. God really started revealing the possibility of me moving to Canada at some point in my life. But when? God knew I had another year of university, he knew I was thinking about marriage and the future, he knew I really wanted to be a youth worker, he knew how much I loved all my family and friends.
Before I flew home that summer I prayer “Lord, I would really love to come and serve here again next summer. If it’s Your will please work it all out.”
And so began my final year at university- you know that year. Where you’ve to start looking towards the future, applying for jobs, figuring out where you’re going to be or what you’re going to do because let’s face it, you can’t be a student the rest of your life! I had some pretty tough decisions to make. Each year I would go to a national youth worker conference in Eastbourne in November but the run up to leaving that year had just been crazy- I was so confused about God’s plan for my life, there were almost too many options. So before I set of for that conference I said “God I’m giving you this whole weekend to speak to me. I won’t be distracted or rushing around. I am willing to obey whatever you ask me to do.” (You ever prayed those prayers? They are scary- you have just made a promise to God, like…He won’t forget!!!) I got to the conference and on the Saturday afternoon I went to the prayer room and sat before the Lord. He lead me to
Isaiah 6:8: Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
I knew God was calling me to share the Gospel with people but I just didn’t know where, when or how. So I asked him.
Then I heard him ask me in my heart; “Laura, do you trust me?”
“God you know I trust you!”
“Laura, do you trust me?”
“Yes, Lord I trust you.”
“Do you trust me with your life?”
“Of course I do. I gave my life to you and trust you completely!”
“Do you believe that my plans for you are better than your plans for you?”
“Yes, Lord, I know you’re plans are better than my plans.”
Then came the sledge hammer in my heart
“I want you to be ready to go where I call you to go.” He then proceeded to ask me to give up the most important thing in my life at that time.
It’s easy to say yes to God when it works within our own timescale, our own plans, our own situations. It is so much more harder to say yes to God when it causes us great sacrifice. I don’t write this half-heartedly, I write this from the memory of the tears, of the sleepless nights, of the questioning, of the doubting, of the heartbreak. But I also write this from the deepest place of knowing God’s love, his faithfulness, his care, his provision, his answers. Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice for us, he gave up his life so that we may have life in and through him. Who am I to say no to some form of sacrifice?
I pressed on with uni and ministry, I applied for job after job with rejection letter and after rejection letter. I was losing hope, and losing it quickly! “God what are you doing?! You called me to study youth ministry, you know that’s where my heart is at! Why can’t I get a job?” In the midst of all this I received an email from Faith Mission asking me to come and serve with them that summer (2013) Needless to say I jumped up and down when I got that email because God had been answering prayers I wasn’t aware I was praying…but I now realise he was answering the prayers of other people who were praying!
Throughout my whole uni course I met with my Pastor regularly and within the last few months of my placement with my church I couldn’t help but notice the random (well, what I thought at the time were random) statements he would make mid-conversations.
“You know no matter where you go Towerview will always be your home church, right?”
“See if you ever send prayer letters out to people, make sure you include us in the mailing list.”
And then one day after we’d finished praying he said; “I don’t know if this means anything to you but while we were praying the Lord showed me a picture of you as a missionary and then he gave me the verse Mark 16:15 ‘Go into all the world and preach the Gospel'”
I remember getting quite frustrated and thinking ‘I’ve told you so many times I want to stay in Northern Ireland and do youth ministry… I don’t get why you’re saying things like that!’ (I’ve since repented!)
It was nearing the end of June, I had no job prospects for when I return from Canada in late August and I knew I was doing everyone’s head in because I had no life plan. I finished packing my case, got on my knees and prayed; “Lord, I am giving you this summer. Show me what you want me to do with my life, I will go wherever you want and I will do whatever you ask. Just please make it clear.”
And oh boy, did the Lord make it clear.
As I stepped through the departure gates in Dublin airport I got the overwhelming feeling that the next time I do this it will be with a one way ticket and it will be to Canada. How on earth do you process that when you’re heading over for what you assume is just the summer?! And as soon as the plane touched down my heart pipes up “aww I’m home!”
I spent a few days at my brothers and then headed to go and do VBS and camps. I had only walked in through the door when one of the girls I’d met the previous year asked; “How’s things? So are you thinking about joining the mission?” I was like “emm… no, the Lord knows that my hearts in youth ministry so I don’t think the mission is for me.” Looking back she must have thought I was awful rude. But she just smiled as if to say “We’ll see”
As the days went on and the more I prayed God began to awaken my heart to the realisation that there was a reason I had to sacrifice things in my life, there was a reason why I didn’t get any of the jobs I applied for, there was a reason I had no idea what I was going to do in September. The reason was, he wanted me to join the Faith Mission in Canada! He showed me that just because he had given me a passion for youth ministry didn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy and be passionate about other forms of ministry too.
It was Canada Day weekend and we were hanging out at one the worker’s houses, the room went quiet and she just asked…“Well?” and I knew exactly what she asking about, I replied; “I have too much peace about it for it not to be from God. I have to apply to join the mission.”
When I told my church family about it the common response was; “We all knew you were going to Canada to join The Faith Mission. We were just waiting for you to realise it.”
The Lord keeps asking me on a daily basis; “Laura, do you trust me?” and in light of how far he’s brought me and how good I know he is, my heart rejoices to say; “Yes Lord, I trust you and I will keep on trusting you!”
And that my friends, is how I ended up moving to Canada.
[There were also other stories, scripture and people that God used to lead me but I’d be writing all day if I included those!]
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. – Psalm 37:4
To find out about more about Faith Mission (in Canada) head over to www.faithmissioncanada.org