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Church Planting Europe Field Story Spain

This is Your Joy

On July 22, 2016, Avant welcomed Ashley and her husband Derek to the Avant team. During the Candidate Orientation Program, Ashley shared how the Lord brought her to missions work.

“My commitment to missions has been closely connected to understanding Jesus’s heart and character. I went through quite a few intense spiritual seasons as I gained this understanding.

“At one time I questioned why we as Christians don’t have a promise to not suffer. That kind of promise just isn’t in the Bible. We can be martyrs, stoned, or assaulted. That thought is kind of terrifying.

“Intellectually, I had known this truth for a long time. But I reached a point in my life where I looked at that reality with my heart. I asked God, why isn’t our suffering short?  I thought of the thief on the cross who suffered greatly, but then was soon with the Lord. Why do many of us experience a long time of suffering? What purpose does He have for us lingering in this fallen world?

“It seems obvious now, but I had to go through this process in my heart. At that time, I was a teacher and I prayed intensely about this question of suffering. One day during one of our classroom games, a young student cheered with joy. I just looked at her and my heart was filled with love for her. I thought, Oh Michelle, I hope I get to know you in heaven.

“Immediately, everything snapped into place. I felt the Lord tell me, ‘This is your joy.’ I understood Hebrews 12:2, ‘Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.’ Jesus suffered for the joy of saving us. He truly loves us so much that He wants us to be with Him for eternity. In missions and in life we share in the joy of seeing the lost brought into that eternal love.

“In the last few years the Lord has been showing me the real meaning of Zephaniah 3:17, ‘The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He takes great delight in you. He rejoices over you with loud singing and he quiets you in his love.’

“It is our joy to go to Spain, where many, many people don’t know Him. The Lord delights in their salvation. We want to take that message to them.”


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