Morgan Parees

I Said Never, God Had Other Plans (Guest Post)

Growing up I heard about missionaries through church and school; one of my classmate’s parents had been missionaries. Even from a young age I always thought it was impressive, but not for me. Each time I heard about missionaries, that’s what I thought; good for them, but that will never be me.

Fast forward a few years to the summer of 2015 when I’m at the halfway mark of my college career. I spent a few days a week helping with a community outreach project at Crossroads Church. I was working alongside Carli Ethridge and Annette Simonson. Both were preparing for their families to go into missions; the Ethridges to the Dominican Republic, and the Simonsons to Florida.

Each week Carli would share how they were paring down their belongings and preparing for a huge garage sale. They were moving their lives to the DR in just a few suitcases. God told them to sell it all and that’s exactly what they did. Carli was so calm and confident, it was clear that God had called them to missions and they were being obedient. I was amazed by their faith, but thought, I could never sell ninety percent of my belongings and move to a new country!

Annette and Jayson were preparing to move to Fort Myers, Florida. At the time I didn’t really understand what their work there was going to look like. I was mostly excited that they would be a quick two-hour drive away from Miami, where I was at school. But I was still thinking, I could never do missions. Raising support sounds terrifying.

Recognizing God’s Prompting

During the second half of my time at Miami, I was able to visit Jayson and Annette a few times each semester. Our visits were always so life-giving and I enjoyed hearing about what Jayson was doing with their mission organization, New International. They were developing a Child Sponsorship program with the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030. Jayson would always make a semi-serious joke that I could work with him whenever I wanted. These jokes terrified me, so I just smiled and nervously laughed each time.

In 2017 I graduated and moved back to Pittsburgh to take a post-grad gap year. Almost immediately after I moved home, God started working on my heart. I began reading for pleasure, something that I had not done in years (thanks college). I wanted to learn more about God and faith and what it means to be a Jesus follower. God began to work on my heart and started slowly guiding me towards the plan He has for me. Being home was like being a parked train waiting for instructions for what track to take. In May of 2018, my gap year was coming to a close, and I didn’t have much direction. Just a few part-time jobs and a plan to move in with some roommates.

Being home was like being a parked train waiting for instructions for what track to take. Click To Tweet

Focus–a community outreach event for teens–was happening the first weekend of the month, and Jayson was the guest speaker for the weekend. I was excited to grab a meal with him, Annette, and Anson while they were in town. At the last minute, I was asked to be a co-leader for Focus. Surprisingly, my weekend was open, so I agreed. I briefly saw Jayson and Annette on Friday and Saturday during Focus. Sunday we saw each other at church, and Monday we planned to have lunch and catch up.

On Tuesday they unexpectedly popped in to say “hi” while I was working. Then on Wednesday, I pulled into a parking spot at Starbucks in Wexford to see Jayson and Andrew (a Crossroads pastor) sitting outside. I was really surprised to see them since they’re usually in the South Hills. I commented on them being so far North, and Jayson explained that before I got out my car he told Andrew, “I’ve unintentionally seen Morgan every day since we’ve been in Pittsburgh,” and Andrew swiftly responded, “You should ask her to do missions with you”.

As soon as Jayson shared what Andrew said I wanted to run away. Just hop in my car, put it in reverse, and be gone. However, that seemed rude, so I stumbled on my words and eventually acknowledged what he said. We talked a little more as I got myself an iced tea, and I told Jayson I’d pray about it and that we would talk more on Friday at a gathering we were both going to. When I got in my car I was shell shocked. “Really God?! This can’t be what you have for me. Remember? Missions isn’t for me!”

I procrastinated praying Thursday and prayed a quick prayer on our way to the gathering Friday. Jayson and I got a few minutes to talk, he shared about Child Sponsorship, New International, what my role might look like, and the process of affiliating. I was overwhelmed, but surprisingly calm. We agreed that we would both pray about it, and went back to visit with friends.

Praying Through The Doubts

I wanted to take praying about missions seriously, so I decided to pray through Draw the Circle. It’s a forty-day devotional, which meant I had lots of time to think about how I could kindly let Jayson down. I was diligent about reading each day’s story and having some quiet time after.

After day three I thought it was going super well. I was proud of myself for sticking to it. Although I hadn’t heard from God yet, I felt that no news was good news. I was in this for the long haul. I was expecting a revelation on Day 40. Around day 6 I asked God if this is where he wanted me to go next, just like I had every other day. But this time I heard God say “Why are you asking me? Why not go?” I wanted to pull a Jonah, act like I didn’t hear from God and go do my own thing.

Let me clarify what I mean when I say “I heard God say…” For me it was like having a thought that wasn’t my own pop into my head. It can be hard to discern what’s my own brain and what’s God, but in this case, he made it super clear that it was Him and not me.

I knew deep down that taking this step into missions was something that God was calling me to do. He placed a burden on my heart for the things that break His heart, specifically global injustices. I had faith that God’s plan for me is good and that he would see me through. I was paralyzed by all of the unknowns. But I took the step of obedience amongst the unknown and called Jayson to say “Let’s do this.”

What’s Next?

I am now an affiliate of New International and working with Jayson in the Child Sponsorship department. We’re partnering with developing families to bring hope and empowerment to their communities. We want to support them and help them rise out of extreme poverty. By helping to meet their practical needs, we’re able to share the Gospel and the hope of Jesus in these communities.

I believe all those times I said “that’s great for them, but that will never be me,” were promptings from God. He was slowly preparing my heart for what was to come. There is still so much unknown, but that’s life. We are never certain of what’s next. All we can be certain of is that God is for us.

Those times I said “that’s great for them, but that will never be me,” were promptings from God. He was slowly preparing my heart for what was to come. Click To Tweet

If you are interested in learning more about New International, Child Sponsorship, or my journey, please, don’t hesitate to contact me at mparees@newinternational.org. If nothing else, please join me in praying for these kids, and the communities that they are a part of. Our prayers together will make a difference in the world and God’s Kingdom.

1 thought on “I Said Never, God Had Other Plans (Guest Post)

  1. Tony LaMarca says:

    It’s been great to get to know Morgan as we’ve been working alongside each other for a season. Her heart for helping others is obvious in every aspect of her life, and it is a privilege to call her a friend.

    Reply

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