When you say “Yes” to God…Buckle up!
An A&M grad and CPA, I started my career in public accounting in Fort Worth out of college. Picking a challenging major with good job security was typical of me, and I enjoyed the mix of people and numbers, as well as being back in Fort Worth close to family. About 6 and a half years later, I felt the need for a job change and to find a better work/life balance. I landed in the accounting group at a manufacturing company that allowed me a change of pace and also some new and interesting work.
While I had never thought of myself as a missionary or ever planned to go on a mission trip, my church began planning a trip to Northern Malawi, Africa in early 2017. As the announcements persisted, I felt God saying “and why not you?”. Being practical, I thought through all the reasons that it wasn’t ME that was supposed to go, but I really couldn’t think of many! It seemed actually a perfect time in my life to go as a single adult, no kids, and a job that would allow me to go for 2 weeks. So then, it was the moment of truth. “Jessica, do you trust me enough to go to Malawi to see what I will show you even if you don’t know what that is?”
Having decided to go on the trip, I felt a peace about going and as we prepared for the trip, repeatedly saw confirmations that I had made the right decision to take the leap! Our 2 weeks in Malawi were wonderful and also filled with a whole mixture of emotions – joy, anxiety, excitement, frustration, exhaustion, peace, fellowship, laughter and others! On our return, I couldn’t tell immediately how the trip had changed me. Though I had had an amazing life experience and saw God in new ways, I came back still feeling like this time in my life of freedom to GO surely had a purpose beyond my “safe” life plan.
Through months of prayer, conversations with friends and new contacts, I cast a wide net and asked God to show me the next steps, whatever they would be. In those months, my type A, planner, goal-setter self was really challenged to let go of the control that I naturally want but don’t have! Finally, following advice from a friend to “rest in the uncertainty”, I threw in the towel and said “Ok, God, I don’t need to know. I’ll wait on you.”
Just two weeks later, I learned about this opportunity in Uganda to serve with SAMS. New to missions, I was surprised to find an opportunity as a missionary that would use my business skills and background! I had been interested in working with college students, was feeling a call to be more involved in ministry in some way, have always had an interest in starting a small business coming from a family of entrepreneurs, and had been interested in exploring a passion for teaching. Understanding that I could never have dreamed this up on my own, I came to see God’s hand all over it and heard again in my heart the question, “Will you trust me enough to GO?”
At Uganda Christian University, I will be serving with SAMS missionary Mary Chowenhill who teaches economics and practical entrepreneurship at UCU. I’ll be working with students in the entrepreneurship degree program to further develop their small business plans and assisting the other Entrepreneurship faculty, as needed. With one of the youngest and most rapidly growing populations in the world, creating jobs through entrepreneurship in Uganda could hopefully lead to a reduction in poverty and empower young people to use their talents and resources to improve the future for themselves and their communities.
In the months of preparation to go, God has continued to “make the way” at every turn, reaffirming often that He is leading. Looking back at this journey so far, I’ve seen the Lord’s faithfulness and hold on to the certainty that He is leading me step by step as I go to Uganda in early May!
“When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted.
…The Lord will fulfill his purpose in me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever – do not abandon the works of your hands.” Psalm 138:3,8
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