Author: Shawna Jerch, Go To Nations Missionary
I held a girl’s small frame tightly in my arms as her tears overflowed from her cheeks and spilled onto our feet. I wanted to squeeze her until she truly felt and believed that she was loved. My compassion stirred for the Thai people as I realized that not one of them was left in their seat, everyone had crowded to the front in response to the message of rejection and the acceptance that only comes from Jesus. At this point, a day had passed at Ablaze Missions conference and the Thai young people had barely reacted to any prayer times, they remained reserved in worship, and they shyly stayed away from the front of the sanctuary. There was a desperate need for breakthrough. Yet, when those who had experienced rejection were invited for prayer, they all responded.
It’s funny because this wasn’t what Ablaze was supposed to be about. The goal isn’t for our own personal healing but, rather, for calling and commissioning to happen. It’s not to focus on “me” but on the lost.
Yet, an incredible shift began to happen in those moments of gentle embraces, whispered truths, and opened hearts. As each young person there began to understand that they were loved, they were then given the capacity to have their hearts moved with love for others.
That night we gave an opportunity for people to come and pray at the flags of the nations that their hearts were stirred for. Some Thais came, moved with a new found passion to reach their families, their schools, and their nation; while others began to pray for nations they’ve never been to. Brand new believers came up and began to pray for communist, persecuted, unreached nations, moved by the heart of Jesus for them.
The amazing thing is, God is personal. While He was using me to minister His love to the Thai people, He was also giving me my own fresh revelation.
To be honest, Ablaze was hard for me. I carried a lot of responsibility and not a lot of control. Plus, I was in charge of an area that I don’t have years of experience in: leading worship. I knew going into it that this would be a lesson in leaning on the Holy Spirit, but throughout the week I was more stressed than I would like to admit and physically worn down. Additionally, I was frustrated by the barriers that kept the people from worshipping and meeting God freely, and I was contending for breakthrough.
After our second worship set, where I felt like I was pouring everything out and continuing to hit walls, I talked to the leader of our organization. I asked him “What do we need to do to bring breakthrough with the worship?” I was expecting him to communicate the same thing that was raging inside of me: unmet expectation and a pressure to move beyond it. But instead, he began to pour affirmation out on me. He told me how good I was doing, and assured me that, even though the atmosphere was hard, the Holy Spirit would bring breakthrough.
The pressure was off. And, just like with the Thai people, grace and acceptance trumped unmet expectations.
The rest of the conference was still pretty overwhelming, but as a result of that conversation, I was able to embrace moments of releasing what God had given me to release instead of trying to produce something. Just as the Thai people were able to look outside of themselves once they knew they were loved, I was able to walk in authority once I knew the responsibility was not mine, but God’s.
Children of God, you are so loved and accepted. Burnout comes from pushing and striving for relationship, but we are free to give when we know we are approved in His love. God doesn’t want your striving. He’s inviting you to the pleasure and adventure of following Him.
Author: From a young age Shawna has had a desire to see the world, but when she was in High School God called her to experience it through His eyes. She attended Bible school at Christ for the Nations Institute, and in March of 2016 she began her two-year apprenticeship in Chiang Rai, Thailand. She now ministers by sowing the love of Jesus in the many searching souls that roam the continent of Asia.