Embracing a Big World
By Amy Carroll

I couldn’t get the premise of the movie out of my mind. My husband and I discussed it all the way home. If you created a list of things to do before your death, what would be on your list? “I want to visit every continent!” I blurted out. I sat and mused for several more minutes before I added, “I want to share Jesus with people on every continent.”

My grandmother says that I have wanderlust, and she’s right. At the age of 14, I moved with my family to England for a year during my father’s sabbatical, and I was bitten with the travel bug. If someone mentions a trip, in minutes I’m throwing my things in a suitcase. Driving past an airport sets my heart racing, and I keep my passport updated and ready to go.

In my college years, God started to refine my passion for foreign lands as He planted a deep love for missions in my heart that has never diminished. Some things have changed in my life, though. I have two children and a budget that doesn’t include trips around the world! However, God has been good to give me other ways to contribute to missions and Kingdom building throughout the world. These are ways that everyone can spread the Gospel internationally. Some of them don’t even require leaving your state.

Adopt a Student

Revelation 7:9, “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb...”

The description from Revelation of standing before Jesus with people of every tribe and nation always grabs my heart. Beginning in my college years, I began to realize that my desire to reach people of every tribe and nation wouldn’t be as hard as I thought. Multitudes of men and women from other countries were right here in the United States pursuing degrees. I became involved in befriending international students and praying for opportunities to share my faith with them.

After college, my family reached out to international students attending a university near our town. The office that coordinated these students was eager to connect them with people who would introduce them into American life. The students were hungry for friendship, struggling with the language and far from their families. We built friendships with students from Malaysia, Japan and Pakistan.

One student, Ali, spent lots of time with our family. He even accompanied us to my parents’ house one year at Christmas, and we learned so much from him, too. After he cooked for us, I learned I can eat Pakistani food, but only with half the spice that a native uses!

Our friendship with Ali has had lasting results. I got an email from him several years ago that touched my heart. He had returned home to Pakistan to pursue a career, and the attacks of 9/11 had happened in the interim. Anti-American sentiment was running high in some areas of the Middle East, but Ali wrote to tell us that every time he heard someone speak ill of Americans, he told them of our family. He told them of how kind we had been to him, and how we had opened our home to him. I was humbled that God could use our flawed family to impact another’s world-view, and I prayed that the story of a Savior he learned that Christmas will continue to affect his life, too.

Many international students return to their home countries to become leaders in business, politics and education. They develop tremendous platforms and are trusted by the citizens of their countries. It’s amazing to me to think there is the possibility that Jesus can gain a platform through them if I’ll only open my home, cook a few meals and share my life and faith.

Train a Child

Proverbs 22:6, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (NIV)

Financially sponsoring a child in a third world country has deeply impacted my family. We’ve found our child’s country on a world map, read about the culture and adopted the idea of eating a meal of beans and rice once a month. During our meal, we talk about the fact that Manuel, our sponsored child, is probably eating something similar. Our family prays for him and his family, and we write letters to build relationship. One night of eating beans and rice instead of eating out pays for our sponsorship, but more importantly, it’s changing our lives as well. Even though by American standards we’re not wealthy, my children have much. Child sponsorship is a way for us to focus on others in need and to put our own relative wealth into perspective.

Our Proverbs 31 Speaker Team had the amazing opportunity to travel to Ecuador last summer. In one area of crushing poverty, I sat at a school table surrounded by children sponsored through Compassion International. Looking into their glowing faces and sparkling eyes, I asked each of them what they wanted to be when they grew up. “I want to be a teacher,” one answered. “I want to be a fashion designer,” chimed in another. “I want to

be an engineer,” a child shyly added.

I couldn’t help but listen in wonder. In an area where many children didn’t even have basic necessities, Compassion had restored hope and built dreams in the hearts of these children. Their most basic needs are cared for so that they can follow Jesus’ call wherever He goes. Child sponsorship reaches not only the hearts of sponsored children but their entire family and into the next generation. Compassion International is a ministry that feeds children, takes care of medical needs, provides education and fills a child’s heart with the hope found only in Jesus. My family is blessed to join with them in ministry.

Be Willing to Go

Matthew 28:19, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit...”

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