Tiffany Board ~ I Go For Him, I Go For Them {Story 25 of 30}

I grew up in church. I come from an incredibly loving family who gave me a nice house, nice things, and too much good food. We are a close-knit family.  We are trash-talking Steelers’ fans, and we love playing cards on Saturday nights.  My friends are the best in the world. I’ve never had any big medical problems just some stitches (mostly stemming from something my older sister conned me into).

That’s me…your typical, middle-class, Jesus-loving, small-town girl. And yet I’ve always had something weighing heavily on my heart: Why me? Why haven’t I had to face tragedy in my life? Why am I so blessed? (Please, don’t stop reading here. I’m not whining…really.  There is a point.)

“Sometimes God puts those in the front of the line to help those in the back.”

This quote changed my way of thinking and has since led me on many adventures for God.

My first adventure came in 2011 when my best friend, Carrie, asked me to travel with her to Africa.  Zambia to be exact.  She’d spent a year serving as headmistress at a school on a farm called Sons of Thunder. Of course I wanted to go! I wanted to see the places she talked about and meet the people she called her family.

But, Satan came running and instantly put questions and fear in my mind. HOW COULD I EVER AFFORD A TRIP TO AFRICA? Soon, I had the answers. When those near and dear to my heart heard I wanted to go on a mission trip, they became Christ’s hands and feet. They started sending money before I even had to ask.   I knew I had to go not just for me, not just for Carrie, and not just for Christ; I had to go for the people who couldn’t.

I had to go for the elderly men and women supporting me because they physically couldn’t go. I had to go for the women supporting me who had small children and couldn’t go. I had to go for the people who had jobs and couldn’t take time off. I had to go. And now, every single time Christ lays out His plan for me that requires money I don’t have, I go.

I go for Him. I go for them.

So, I went.  I embarked on the long journey to Zambia (both literally and spiritually) with a few church members and my best friend. Because of my deep commitment to  Christ and willingness to “help those in the back of the line,” I was willing to give of myself  – even if it meant an 18-hour plane ride.

For 2 weeks we worked on the 10,000 acre farm,  Sons of Thunder.   We ministered to the farm residents and labored in love at the Sons of Thunder School. Many times as I stood under the hot African sun, I felt goosebumps.  I could feel the greatness of our God. In fact, “those in the back of the line” taught me more than I could ever teach them.

My deep commitment and openness to God came again this summer as once more I boarded a plane and travelled to Tegucigalpa, Honduras. I spent a week built five houses, fed over 200 people, spent time with a homeless ministry, and served food at the local dump filled with trash as far as the eye could see.

I don’t write about these trips to say “Hey! Look at me! I serve Christ all over the world! My mansion is going to be bigger than yours!” I want to show people that God can take anyone, even someone without a “story” to tell, and use them to be His hands and feet.

Luke tells us that “For whom much is given, much will be required.”  Listen.  God will speak. And God will use you. You may not be called to travel out of the country to serve, but you ARE called to serve.  You are called to “go and make disciples” – here or there.

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From Tiffany: I come from the small town of Mineral Wells, West Virginia. I now live in Elkins and teach 7th grade English at Buckhannon Upshur Middle School. I met Sarah at the Walk to Emmaus and knew instantly we were kindred spirits.

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Tiffany’s right.  We met Thursday evening at Emmaus (Tiffany a table leader, me a pilgrim), and we were friends by Friday afternoon.  We have the same (sarcastic) sense of humor and much in common. I love her.

Tiffany’s talk at Emmaus resonated with me, and while it has nothing to do with her post, I can’t help but share what God used her wisdom to teach me.  She spoke of how our relationship with God influences all other relationships.   Indeed, a deep relationship with God is the root from which all other relationships grow.  It seems so simple.  But, it’s not.

I know pastors, church leaders, and “good” Christians who don’t love people. They like them or tolerate them.  Their relationships with others aren’t deep because the root needs tending.  Sure, these people are sympathetic to tragedy.  But, they don’t “get down in the ditch with a person,” truly loving them.  That’s a “root” problem.

I also know pastors, leaders, friends, and Christians who love, love, love people.  This genuine love of others is born from their relationship with Christ.  It’s obvious.  They love Jesus and it pours out onto others.  They see people – all people, including those who are different or hold different views – as image bearers of Christ.

Tiffany’s teaching at Emmaus convicted me of allowing my pride to get in the way of loving others.  When I served in church leadership, I considered myself on the “right” side – God’s side (ridiculous). I thought the Bible-studying, reading, praying people (me included) loved our church more than the others.  Sigh.  How wrong I was.  At some point I stopped seeing those who thought differently than me as image bearers. I got wrapped up in my way of thinking – the right way  – and failed to love others.

I justified my wrong thinking and actions easily, calling their way “unbiblical” or my actions “ok” because the other side was doing the same…”meeting or planning” outside of the real meeting and often with people who weren’t intended to know.  I know…all unbiblical.

Sad…but Satan got a foothold because I lost my root.  I thought the unbiblical actions of others justified my unbiblical actions.  Pride separated me from Him, causing me to lose my way, getting caught up in the importance…in being “in the know.”

While I have repented, I still hate thinking of that season.  I’d lead so differently now.  That’s why I am thankful for those, like Tiffany, who lead the line for those of us at the back who have much to learn.  Those of us who need a good example.  Tiffany’s talk at Emmaus transformed the way I see my outward relationships with others as a reflection of my inward relationship with Christ.

Thanks for sharing, Tiffany…and for helping me to see that while giving deeply of myself risks hurt, it’s worth it. For His glory.

Comments

  1. Heather Ward says:

    Thank you Tiffany! I see beautiful hands wrote this story!! Thank you for being a bright, bright light in and for Jesus Christ Our Lord!!!

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