One of the early concepts we started The JC4Me Collective on was (and is) diversity. Diversity in Culture, Faith & Arts. And there may not be anyone else I know that champions that diversity better than my sister Mima. Mima spent the first 6 months of this year on mission in Mexico, learning, teaching and growing in faith and knowledge of many different cultures, and through these journeys she started to come to a realisation about the God we love and serve.
I wanted to write all of my blog posts in a way that made them relatable to everyone. So that all the people who contributed to my trip could understand and appreciate the things I wrote about without feeling uncomfortable with my ‘bible bashing – Jesus enthusiasm’ but in reality, I have seen the face of God, in the mountains, the ocean, the sunset and the streams. I cannot fully communicate the full extent of my growth and experiences on this trip without talking about God. I have been wrecked and broken in order to be healed tenfold. I have been stretched and challenged, surprised and conflicted. I have spoken to experienced teachers and discovered cracks in my heart where I never knew there were any. This is an honest and God filled account of the last two months of my life here in Mexico;
When I first arrived in Mazatlan I knew I was going to be challenged. I knew I would learn things about myself and God that I didn’t already know – to what extent this would be true I had no idea! But when God speaks, you listen, and the moment I realised this, I began to learn! I have struggled a lot with loving myself over the last few years, my trust in complements from others slowly faded away until I couldn’t accept love from other people either. My self confidence was fueled mainly by a desire to be unshakably secure in myself. But then I started to live and work with 33 unfailingly honest christians. Men and Women who showed themselves to be vulnerable, broken and incredibly loving through it all. Men who would go out of their way to protect me on the street; who immediately jumped into the role of brother, who affirmed and respected me as a woman in ways I had only known my Dad to do. Women who cried and laughed with me, encouraged me and sought me out to ask forgiveness for a single jealous thought or even a joke that might have caused the slightest offense. I began to find self confidence in ways I’d never known before. I began to be told how God see’s me with every second as his positive thoughts towards me exceed the grains of sand on the planet. I started to believe that If God IS love, so am I, If he is creativity I am too, if he is patience and generosity, kindness and joy – Ditto. I recognise my own face without makeup and started to overcome my fear of sharing words from God to a group of people. Without even realising it I was changing, growing and healing. God dragged up many things from before that I didn’t want to remember least of all talk about; things that made me a mess of tears and snot, things I knew would change how the people around me saw me! But no, I was affirmed, reassured and loved through it all. I doubt I will ever be able to express the gratitude I feel towards the people God has placed in my life at the most perfect time!
So many parts of a life with God seemed complicated before; what is fear of the Lord? How do I hear God speak and know where he wants me to be? How do I perform well enough to receive his love? All of these questions ran through my mind. I always knew God was personal and relational, but I also saw myself as his servant instead of his daughter. I saw rules and checklists of how to stay close to him. Since being in classes and hearing speakers talk about the father heart of God; I have discovered a new closeness to God. I have learnt that I can talk to him like a friend in the same room, I can serve him out of love and not obligation, I can ask him for any favour no matter how small and I can trust him with any challenge no matter how big. I can fall and mess up over and over without diminishing his love – never again will I be without him.
I have heard talks on identity, using biblical references to speak truth into God’s value for me as a woman. The importance of my gender in furthering the Kingdom of God. I have been told by the guys around me how important the presence of women is within their lives. I have found that fearing the lord is, in reality, Loving and respecting him so much that you serve him and follow him, you form habits based on the word in order to prevent yourself from hurting him. It isn’t a fear of the Prince of Peace, the King of Freedom – It’s a deep deep love for the one who died for me. How could I feel anything but awe, love and respect for the creator of the mountains. The one who built the earth to reflect his face and show the millions of aspects to his character.
I am so excited about the next six weeks of classes; Where I will discover more and more about God’s heart for me. I can’t wait to step into a life that he has planned for me! My blogs from now on will include more about my journey of faith and how my life is being deeply changed during this experience.
Continue to follow Mima’s experiences by following us on here or following her own personal blog here: http://www.mima.org.uk/