I was walking back home from the local farmers market this morning and I was overcome with tears as I began to think of my time in Springfield. I remember graduating from ministry school in Texas and returning to Dallas from Turkey in 2013. The semester prior to graduating from ministry school I felt God impress in my heart to continue my studies in a non-biblical degree. I enrolled in my junior college and before I knew it, the time to transfer to a University had arrived. I didn’t really have an idea as to where I would transfer all I knew was that I wanted to move to Houston or stay in Dallas. Springfield, Missouri was never in my plans. I first heard of Evangel through my sweet friend Jenel. I initially thought Christian universities were weird and could not imagine attending one for a non-biblical degree. As time passed I kept meeting people who recommended Evangel University to me. I remember talking to my pastor one morning and asking her what she thought and she replied; “Just apply, what do you have to lose?”
So, I did, I applied with the intention of not going and of saying, “well I guess it wasn’t in God’s plans – moving to Houston, bye.” I remember in my ignorance praying, “God I will attend whichever school gives me the most financial aid/grant money”. I prayed this prayer as I thought about my good grades, the fact that I was a woman in STEM, a Latina, a Texan, and had the recommendation from one of the top sedimentary geologists in the country and I thought – of course U of H or UT will be financially easier there’s no way a Christian private school will ever be able to compete. BOY was I wrong – U of H didn’t offer me anything, not even $1 and UT never received my transcripts (I sent it to them three times). Evangel, on the other hand, did offer financial aid and grants/scholarship money to cover everything (I realize this may not be everyone’s story).
The day that I received all of my financial aid letters I quickly looked up the demographics of Springfield, Mo AND it was 96% white. I thought to myself – there is no way I am going to move to a town of 160,000 white people, I don’t want to. I am never going to see another brown person in my life and God has called me to be around people of all ethnicities and backgrounds.
But, I did – I didn’t really have a choice. I packed all of my things and about 2 months later I moved to Springfield, Missouri to finish school. My whole first semester I HATED IT, the weather was nasty (January & February ice storms of 2015), there wasn’t any good Mexican food and I think I experienced more culture shock moving to Springfield, Missouri than I did living in Turkey. I didn’t fully unpack my things until that summer – I was ready to return to Dallas at a moment’s notice.
I kept dreaming of a “what-if” life in Texas. One morning, in a sci-tech departmental chapel, a professor spoke about her time in Springfield as a student and how she had to choose to live a life which positively affected her community regardless of how long she thought she’d be there. I felt such a conviction as I began to think of all the times when I thought “I’m not going to get involved I’m only here for a couple of years.” That day I decided to get involved and I am so glad I did. I have had the opportunity to do so many things I would have never been able to do if I would have stayed in Texas or decided to return after the first semester. God has healed and restored parts of my life that I was forced to open because I had to be dependent on God. He has also brought amazing men and women into my life who choose to pour into me and mentor me and for that, I am forever grateful. I attend a church which has adopted me, challenged my faith and encouraged me to grow as a follower of Jesus, AND my biggest dream and love of being in a diverse community has come true. I always find myself reflecting when I’m getting ready for FORGE and I always think “WOW! This is going to be the most diverse room in Springfield.” I have friends that are Arab, Nepali, from different countries within Africa, French, Chinese, Hmong, Hispanic, Springfieldians 😉 and from around the US. I honestly don’t think any of this would have happened if I would have stayed in Texas. I don’t believe Springfield is forever, for sure it’s for the next three years as I begin my assignment. I still long for Texas and at times become very nostalgic and become TOO excited when I see a Texas Flag or meet a fellow Texan and even as I write this I looked at my T-shirt and it’s a State of Texas T-shirt.
So today I ask you is God calling you to leave and follow his plans? Or could he be calling you to stay (recently that’s been the case for me) and follow his plans?
Whatever it is he may be calling you to just do it– God’s plans are what dreams are made of.
“Mortals make elaborate plans, but God has the last word.” – Proverbs 16:1, MSG