Today I am so happy to introduce to you my cousin, Desiree. My other cousin Derekka, and Desiree's younger sister was hanging out on The Pearl Press a few weeks back (you can catch that here). I knew this month was the perfect month for me to convince Desiree, who is a wonderful writer and communicator, to write for us here on The Pearl Press. Her adult life for the past several years has been a fun and adventurous one, but also kind of lonely and scary at times too. There have been ups and downs, but Desiree has always worked hard and pursued her dreams (I will let her tell you more about that!). Through all of her uprooting and planting and traveling and wandering, there have been some things consistent in Desiree's life. One of those has been living missionally. What do I mean by living missionally? I mean no matter where she is, what kind of culture and people surround her, she is consistently looking for opportunities to make an impact on lives, and share her faith at just the right time. I believe because of her diligence to find opportunities, God has been consistent in providing them. So! I will let her share. I hope you too are inspired to live a missional life.
The Road to Somewhere: Living “Missionally”
 While I’m not a follower of Robert Holden, a British psychologist who has made finding happiness his claim to fame, I took a second glance at this quote of his that was recently shared multiple times on social media by my friends:


It would be inaccurate for me to state that I believe that happiness in this world means everything, that happiness is the destination we are striving to achieve. Although, I do believe that’s what society teaches and exemplifies. But if as Christians we believe that Heaven is our destination, then happiness in this world can be found in the way that Christ is exemplified to the world through us, “missionally,” or, as we make it our mission to share Christ with others. Let me explain.

I travel for a living. I’m always heading somewhere. I moved to NYC from OK in 2010 when I graduated from college, and in 2012 I booked my first cruise ship gig. I have worked as a singer and dancer for the last four years with the same cruise line. As Dickens put it, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times” (A Tale of Two Cities, page 1). Working on a ship can be super glamorous. I’ve gotten to visit a lot of places on the map, and I’ve made a salary doing what I love to do the most. I’ve met a lot of people from a lot of places. I’ve experienced the good, the bad-when there’d be storms out in the ocean tossing our boat all around, and the ugly: the loneliness of being a single, Christian girl in the midst of a very secular place. Imagine living in a world where you physically could not get to church, instead of just being able to choose not to go for whatever reason. Imagine living with your colleagues from all walks of life, instead of being able to get in your car and drive yourself in peace to your humble abode. Many cruise ship workers even work 6-8 months away from their husbands, wives, and children because they make more money on the ship than they would working in their own countries, be it the Philippines, Croatia, Indonesia, Jamaica, etc. I’m a single girl who, full discloser, has never chosen to drink a sip of alcohol and who has yet to have sex, yet I’ve found myself working in a place dripping with such temptations for people who would so easily give themselves to any and all of these things. When they don’t have Jesus in their hearts, I can easily understand why they’d rely on things our world says “can make them happy” for the duration of their contracts at sea on their own “journey to somewhere.” The joy of the Lord was and is my strength, truly. And on my journeys abroad, I’ve found that in the midst of so many crying out to fill their lives with the kind of joy that I have, my job of performing, the job I have focused on since childhood, became so insignificant in comparison to the job the Lord had in mind for me on these ships.
Let me back up. In 2013, I was privileged to join a team that went to Ethiopia to minister. It changed my life forever. I saw God do things I had only read about in the Bible. Not only did THOUSANDS accept Christ as their Savior, but I saw blind eyes open, deaf ears open, a lame person get up off their homemade mat and walk, I saw the crowds leaving the services chanting praises to our Lord in the streets! So many people praising that our bus couldn’t safely drive down the road! I will never forget those moments for as long as I live, and I will never forget the first time I was challenged to share of my trip to Ethiopia with my coworkers on the ship. Praise God, that wasn’t the last time! I quickly discovered that based on my coworkers’ reactions to my tale, my experience in Ethiopia was not meant to be kept a secret! I believe that God allowed me to experience that mission trip so that I could then share with others what I had seen, the power of the almighty God! There were Bible studies and prayer meetings on most of my ships, but not on all of them. On one ship, a Philippino Bible study leader asked me to take over the group once his contract finished. When I did, the others (all men) quit coming. I understand that culturally speaking, being led by a woman can uncomfortable for men. There were times when I was the only one who showed up for Bible Study. But here is the great thing, even though at times I felt a sense of overwhelming loneliness and isolation, I quickly discovered that I was never truly alone. God has scattered his people throughout the whole Earth! He would put someone in my path to remind me of His greatness just when I needed the reminder the most. Another coworker who was a believer or an opportunity for me to share of His greatness. When I could share of God’s greatness with somebody, it was always a reminder to me of how great God is! Here are some examples. All glory be to Him.
 
In a Bible study on one ship, two people were saved and baptized next to the ship when it was
docked! I praise the Lord for these two brave people. Bible studies on ships are typically used to sustain people who are already believers. I found it more rare that a non-believer would attend our Bible studies. I would also have coworkers randomly coming up to me asking to know “the truth.” This had to do with Biblical views on such things as homosexuality, poverty, purity, holiness, debauchery, salvation, etc. It always surprised me when someone would ask me these types of questions because I am not on a pedestal preaching, and I would only speak as I felt led by the Spirit. They would tell me that they knew what I stood for and could therefore trust me to know the truth based on how consistently I lived. I had no idea they were even watching! But the Bible says “You will know them by their fruit.” I guess that goes both ways for believers and non-believers alike!
 
In my profession, homosexuality is prominent. I have learned how to love and befriend people of all kinds. Some of my closest friends identify as homosexual, and I have also been challenged to share the truth with them. In fact, many have often asked me not just what I believe, but they want to know what the truth is- what the Bible says about their lifestyle. They would ask me to pray with them. I also work closely with Las Vegas-style showgirls who were never taught anything about purity and dignity and self-respect, and somehow I found myself often sharing “the truth” about these things among our normal “dressing room chats.” They were often enlightened on these ideas, asking me many questions, and left having a deeper respect for me than I ever knew they could have as I was able to share with them why I choose to live the way I do. I had coworkers who would often slander God and his very existence. I avoided participating in their heated discussions no matter how much I wanted to! A group of them, like-minded, would gather and discuss and feed on their own atheistic beliefs. But one day, there was an opportunity for me to speak up as I was invited into their conversation. The Lord’s hand was in it, as nothing was heated, and their ears had been opened to hear what I had to say about my trip to Ethiopia. They asked questions, they “ooh’d” and “aah’d” at the marvel of God! I later sang a song in a show about miracles. Afterward, someone from that conversation spoke to me through teary eyes and shared that during my song she had been reminded of my trip to Ethiopia. Praise God that a seed had been planted in her about his existence and power and love. On another account, in a dressing room full of dancers, I was singing “His Eye is on the Sparrow” quietly to myself, and the next thing I knew, the entire room fell silent as I realized they were all listening to me! My initial reaction was embarrassment, but I felt encouraged to sing out as they were ready to hear those lyrics and receive them. Apparently, I was the “talk of the ship” for my “strange” life choices, which led to me being asked by a cruise director to meet with him to pray for him for things going on in his life. Talk about an “Esther moment,” getting invited to pray with the director of the ship!

There are countless stories I could share. I do not take any of these situations for granted. God spoke to my heart to “scatter seed.” I could not make the seed fall on a certain type of soil that would receive it, but I could do my part and scatter it around.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is that seed.

Here is the bottom line. God is not meant to be kept a secret. If you have been touched by the almighty God, may the Holy Spirit lead you to share of your life-changing experience with someone! We must stay excited about the things of the Lord, and ready and eager to share our experiences as the Holy Spirit leads us!  We are all on a road to somewhere, and if our own happiness is focused on our earthly destination, we may miss what we were meant for. But if you can see that happiness is along the road that’s driven by God who puts people in your path to share Him along the way, there is overwhelming joy in knowing God used you to make an eternal difference for someone.  
They are waiting for you to be brave enough to speak His name.
Even though they may not know it yet.  
But they are watching you. 
They will know you by your “fruit.” 
Now, go and scatter that seed!



1 comment:

  1. Amen, Desiree! I just now got around to reading this today. This testimony brought me to tears! Praise God for how He used you as a vessel to work through! Talk about a light in the darkness! I often wondered what life was like for you on the ships. Thank you for your obedience to the Holy Soirit and allowing Him to work through you and for sharing these experiences! So proud of you and the Woman of God you are! Keep on radiating the Love of God everywhere you go! 😘 ❤️ 🙌🏼

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