One Step At A Time
From Summer Intern to Long-Term Missionary
Even as a child, God had been stirring in me this call to leave home and serve Him among the needy. It took me years to discern this call, as well as laying down many fears and comforts I had. But once I had experienced a true joy in abandoning my life to His purposes, I knew that I had found God’s greatest blessing.
I had sensed the call to be a missionary for much of my walk with God, but especially after returning from a short-term mission trip I took to Uganda in 2007. After studying social work/counseling, I learned that God wanted to use my education and training in trauma and restoration through the Gospel to impact young women. I was open to wherever God might call me, which led me to join the Avance summer program in Mexico City almost 5 years later.
My first summer in Mexico City was inspiring, challenging, and incredibly growth-filled. I was immediately immersed in the Mexican culture – eating the food, speaking the language, riding on public transportation in a massive city, and falling in love with the people and the church. I was encouraged to share the Gospel with people hungry for Jesus, even though I didn’t feel confident with my Spanish. I gave devotionals during a VBS program to a church made up of jóvenes (young people) eager to serve God. I was inspired by the small church I served with, learning from people younger than me who had a love for their neighborhood marked by violence and poverty. I began to see needs around me that urged me to take action and do something. I began to listen to God more as I sought his presence and direction for my life.
All these things led me to take the plunge and stay with Avance for another year. It was a time to continue learning as well as begin to discern whether a long-term commitment in missions would be in my future. I served with a home for teen mothers, a home for women and children with disabilities, and even started to use my counseling skills. From the time I was leaving for my summer in Mexico, God used the passage from Isaiah 61:1-4 to help align my call.
Towards the end of that first year, God challenged me at a retreat to continue in the work He was calling me to in Mexico. I remember not being able to sleep once I realized I needed to let my parents and leadership know that I would be coming back to Mexico. I felt God propelling me to move forward in faith, trusting in His care and plan for my life.
In my second year of Avance, I began working with girls who had been rescued from sex and labor trafficking. I found myself really feeling like ‘this is it’! I was seeing how God had been preparing me to minister to the brokenhearted, to set the captives free, to comfort and console, to build up the old ruins. I know from His word that this is his heart, and he has placed that same heart in me.
Now, three and a half years after that first summer, God has blessed me with an abundant life in Mexico. My husband, Edgar, and I were married in November 2014 and are serving together with UWM, reaching out to young people and the marginalized with the Gospel.
Edgar has partnered with Campus Crusade for Christ Mexico and is involved with raising up student leaders to make an impact on their campuses, as well sharing the Gospel with students. I continue to use my training in social work and counseling to reach out to girls who have come out of sex and labor trafficking through mentoring, teaching, and prayer. We are also impacting an unreached, urbanized poor community by living among the people, building trust and creating opportunities to share Jesus with our neighbors.
I am truly grateful for God’s faithfulness upon my life in the process leading me to be a part of what he is doing in Mexico City. It hasn’t always been easy, and I continue to learn what it means to be a daughter of God, as well as a missionary. But God always provides for us exactly what we need to take these leaps of faith that bring us so much more than what we could ask for or imagine. All He asks of us is to go to Him in our neediness, with our fears, in our questioning and our process of discernment. As I learn to trust in His word and promises, I am filled with all the spiritual blessings I need to be obedient to His call. He doesn’t ask us to go alone, but He goes before us and does the work. Through all of this, I consider myself blessed to have this opportunity to live and minister in this wonderful place I now call ‘home’!
By: Jackie Morales, Serving in Mexico