Maria's Story

“Is what I’m doing really needed?”

This was the question I asked myself during my time in Slovenia at the ReachGlobal European Division Conference last month.

Back home, my husband was single parenting our newly adopted baby girl. Months earlier, while raising support for this trip, I never dreamed I would be leaving my four-week-old daughter. Our adoption, although long waited for, came out of the blue in June. This made for an incredibly difficult decision in still going and each day I looked for significance and purpose as my heart ached to be back at home in my new role. I knew the Lord had called me to be there and so I prayed daily that He would confirm my obedience.

God answered my prayers. He is always faithful. As each day unfolded, I listened, and my answer became clear.

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Our team’s main role was twofold: photography and teaching storytelling through written communication. We took portraits for approximately 50 families, couples, and singles. My main role was to document the various aspects of the conference. These images serve to document intimate times of worship, prayer, and the deep camaraderie they have in one another.

“We haven’t had a picture taken in five years.”

“My first camera was a gift so I could travel and interview missionaries. I want to learn how to use it to do that.”

“I used to live in a secure location and could not share pictures. Now that I’m able to, I want to show people what God is doing.”

These were just some of the stories we heard from missionaries desperately needed pictures for updates back home. Their families had changed, their lives had changed, often times their ministries had shifted, and yet their supporters did not know.

I felt their excitement during Ryan and Kelly’s DSLR workshop when, for the first time, they could take a better picture using the Manual setting instead of Auto.

I watched them gain fresh perspectives on how to tell the story of what Jesus is doing in their corner of the world through Ryan and Kelly’s storytelling class.

Through all this, God worked in my heart, reminding me daily that I am not the one in control of my life…

I saw God working in hearts as they came together in one place to praise the One who had sent them away from family, friends, and the lives they loved.

 

Through all this, God worked in my heart, reminding me daily that I am not the one in control of my life, that—no matter the cost—I must always say yes to His call. He showed me over and over again that He cared for my husband and daughter better than I ever could.

I learned from this week in Slovenia that sacrifice is always worth it. Whatever God asks—whether it involves leaving a newborn for a week or leaving home for years with no predetermined return date—He will be faithful. I learned that what I’m doing really is needed.

I never dreamed I could use my knowledge of photography to serve His kingdom. I never thought a seminar on newsletter writing could transform lives. He showed me the value of these skills and the importance they serve in telling and showing what he is doing around the world. He has gifted and uniquely equipped each one of us to enrich and deeply impact the world. Whatever we offer He is able to use in ways we could never have imagined.

“But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’” Jonah 2:9