I have been called out. I have been signaled. I have been awakened.
It all started that first trip out of my homeland in May 2010. The Baptist Collegiate Ministry from UWF took a group of college kids out of their comfy, climate-controlled cubicles and plopped them into the sticky, buggy jungle of Guatemala for 11 days (was supposed to be 7). Having been outside of the USA only once prior to this, and that one time simply walking across a bridge into Canada and back in an afternoon, I didn’t really have any experience in a foreign country. It was a brand new adventure.
In order to stay alive and have an enjoyable experience, there were some guidelines we were advised to follow. One in particular was: “Don’t drink the water!” Okay, easy enough. We had plenty of bottled water and fresh fruit juice and just keep your mouth closed when you shower. Got it. Well, maybe they also said something about brushing your teeth…I guess I missed it because I brushed my teeth in the sink. Next day, Montezuma’s revenge! For days, I couldn’t eat hardly anything without rushing to el baño. Good times.
Then there were moments of extreme wonder and joy, like when we hiked up the side of an active volcano! Mt. Pacaya is known for its constant flow of lava, which brings tourists from all over the world who want to get as close to bone-melting heat as they possibly can. We got as close to the lava as we could stand and pulled out some marshmallows and sticks and had ourselves some original Guate lava s’mores! And what a sight that was! Looking out over the mountain, you saw fiery veins bleeding out into the thick steam while the smell of sulfur overwhelmed your nasal passages. Truly unforgettable. (I recently learned that breathing in volcanic smoke is deadly…we must’ve been far enough away from that…)
The greatest moment for me didn’t happen on a mountain or while drinking freshly-squeezed mango juice. It happened in a room filled with 700 police cadets while singing praise songs en Español and sharing the Good News of the Savior. There’s something about leading people in worship to G-d in a foreign tongue that ignites a fire in my soul. I feel like I am a part of bringing the prophecies to pass that say, “In your seed all the nations of the earth will be blessed – because you obeyed My voice” and “that at the name of Yeshua every knee should bow, in heaven and on the earth and under the earth, and every tongue profess that Yeshua the Messiah is L-rd – to the glory of G-d the Father” and “They are singing a new song, saying, ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals. For You were slain, and by Your blood You redeemed for G-d those from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” (Gen. 22:8, Phil. 2:10-11, Rev. 5:9)
As the local pastor gave the gospel, we prayed for the cadets to be moved and to come forward to receive salvation in Messiah. No one budged. No one moved. We prayed more. “L-rd, if just one person would come…just one…” The pastor finished and after what seemed like an eternity, our prayers were answered. One man got up and walked to the front and accepted Yeshua! I’d never been so excited about anything as I was in that moment. I remember his name was Jorgé and we all cried tears of joy with him, thankful for the work of the Spirit in that police academy. To us, it was all worth it just for that one man.
Turns out that three more people would put their faith in Yeshua after we were forced to remain in Guatemala after Mt. Pacaya erupted two days following our hike! Double whammy! I got a bad head cold and we were all squished in the local missionary’s apartment for a few days, but that was worth it too. It was then that I knew I wanted to do more of this…maybe even for the rest of my life.
Since that first trip eight years ago, I’ve traveled a lot more and had the privilege of sharing the Good News of Messiah in Ethiopia with Jewish Voice Ministries International (JVMI) in 2014. Talk about a life-changing experience! I was on the Prayer Team and anyone who wanted prayer after being seen by the doctor could come to our tent and sit with us and a translator. That was a whole new arena for me. Praying with people I don’t know, in a country I don’t know, in a language I don’t know, caused me to learn to rely completely on the Holy Spirit for words and understanding for what these people needed. In the back of the tent, I could hear people getting healed and delivered from evil spirits. Is that what I was supposed to do? L-rd, help! I sat with many people, from Orthodox Christians to Jews and to Muslims who were looking for help from anyone who would give it. Turns out many of the Christians who came to the prayer tent knew some of the Bible and the story of salvation, but they had never actually made Yeshua the L-rd of their lives. I had the blessing of leading many of those people to faith in Messiah and that was all the miraculous I needed to see! JVMI has a constant presence in Ethiopia as well as other countries where there are impoverished Jewish people. I was honored to be a part of a team of integrity and wisdom and an organization that obeyed the voice of the L-rd.
After going to Ethiopia, my hunger for mission work sharpened and I eagerly awaited the next opportunity G-d would give me to go again. It’s been four more years since my last mission trip. I had every intention and desire to go out sooner, however, several things held me back. I wonder if that was my doing or G-d’s, but last fall, I had a realization. My Abba (Father) was calling me again. He gave me an urgency in my spirit that it was time to prepare to go. Finally! I thought. And this time, I didn’t feel that it was to be short-term or temporary, but rather for the long-haul. Abba was calling me to full-time mission work. Ever since Guatemala, I’ve dreamed of doing this for the rest of my life – and now I am!
As soon as He instilled the courage in me to bring it up to my rabbi and other leaders, I typed up letters explaining my desire to step down from my position as Children’s Coordinator and Youth Coordinator to obey the calling to do missions – wherever that may be. I committed to give six months to help find and train someone to replace me, while I reached out to as many Messianic missions organizations that I could think of and see which door would open for me. I must have contacted about ten and only got a couple replies, most saying they didn’t have anything available. But I kept believing and praying and waiting. About three months later, I got a reply from REACH Initiative International saying they might have an opportunity for me to get involved with their mission work in India! A month after that, I sat and talked with Rabbi Stewart Winograd when he came to speak at our synagogue. It went well and I felt encouraged to apply for the volunteering and training program they were starting to offer.
I am still communicating with REACH about the exact dates of the trip, but I am planning to leave in late August and return in mid-October (about 6 weeks). I’m thankful that my visa came very promptly on the first attempt (I’ve heard it can take a few tries…)!
Because this mission has sensitive information, I am not permitted to share details about it on social media. You may read about REACH on their website to find out what they do. Let’s just say I am very excited and believe that once I arrive in India, things will not be the same. My life is about to enter a new phase, a new chapter, and I am taking the steps forward in faith knowing that He who began a good work in me will bring it to completion until the day of Messiah Yeshua! (Phil.1:6)
If you would like to support me spiritually, I need that more than anything! Here is a list of my personal prayer needs as well as needs for the people we’ll be serving in India:
~ Personal Needs ~
*Physical & Spiritual protection (travel, health, thoughts, attitude, etc)
*Favor in traveling (air, land), relating with the people I’ll meet, and in fundraising (for long term)
*Courage, confidence, strength (mind, body, spirit)
*Joy & peace when I feel homesick…
*Be intentional about intimacy with my Abba (let’s be honest – being in a new place surrounded by beauty and lots of people can keep me busy!)
*Be intentional about relating to the people I meet
~ People’s Needs ~
*Fertile hearts for the Good News of Yeshua (receptiveness, faith, belief, choices, action, commitment, devotion, etc)
*Life-changing relationships for discipleship, on-going sharing and teaching
*Remove all fear and anxiety from their hearts/minds
*Physical & Spiritual protection (travel, families, health, etc)
*Joy, true peace, understanding, and wisdom from God’s Word and Truth (not the dalai lama’s!)
My best estimate for funds currently is that I’ll need about $3500. This includes airfare, cost of the program/housing, food, visa application, shots, and spending money. I am happy to receive more, obviously. So far, I’ve received about half of what I need. Plane tickets are still yet to be bought.
If you’d like to follow me on Facebook, I have a page that I’ll be using to stay in touch (as best I can) and let everyone know what’s going on or what I need, such as prayer requests. You’ll also be able to get information on how to support me financially as I get those avenues set up: https://www.facebook.com/CatherineGoesOut/
You can also put in an order for my Compassion t-shirt (just a few days left in this campaign): https://www.bonfire.com/catherines-campaign-50/
I look forward to sharing more with you in the weeks and months to come!
Shalom & Blessings in Messiah Yeshua,