Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I Have a [God-given] Dream.

[Ahem. Do you know how difficult it is to put an incredible, God-given dream into words?! Consider this my heart version, not the professional one.]

I have a dream journal.

It’s a small, unassuming notebook where I scribble down my dreams. Only a few people know about the journal, and only my eyes have read the pages. It’s a place that feels secret and safe; a place shared by hearts--mine and God’s. It’s full of ideas, quotes, names, prayers, lessons, wisdom, brainstorms...all of it. The pages are coated with deep desires, creativity and agonizing prayers. I pull it out, jot down something, and place it back on my bedside table. On days when I feel like I need to be reminded, or whenever things seem impossible, I pull it out and read over the promises, ideas and dreams.

Today, I want to give you a small taste of my dream journal. You can’t read the pages, but I will let you venture in a tiny bit.

God has given me a dream for Liberia. A dream to impact the lives of individuals, and in turn, change families and communities. A dream to empower and educate. A dream to walk this road of life with the poor, broken, orphaned, oppressed and hurting. A dream to cultivate Hope in those around me--my neighbors and friends that share in this journey.

God has given me vision. The vision to intentionally love and serve. A vision to bridge the 5,000 miles that separate Monrovia from Atlanta; bringing everyone together. The vision to have a place where people can gather. The vision to make an impact, both big and small.

These are big things. Possible things. God things.

How do I plan on doing this? Well, first of's not me, it's HIM. God has given me the dream to use a community center as a ministry tool. This community center would be a place of hope and healing for the people of Liberia. Through education, training and empowerment, coupled with mentoring, prayer and Bible study, life-change will happen! 

Imagine a struggling mother finally being able to write her own name and knowing that she is fearfully and wonderfully made. Think about a child who doesn’t receive love at home, but can come and feel love from others, while receiving the gift of education. What about a man who has a heart for his community, and he invites other men to gather and pray for change. All of these are possibilities at the community center.

More than anything, my deepest desire is to live life with the people around me. The community center would be open to anyone, and the children in the orphanages can also come. I want provide a safe and welcoming place, while the community benefits from educational/empowerment tools and Christ’s love can freely flow. By having a relationship with the people in the community, I will have a clear understanding of the needs, and can then make better decisions on the best way to meet those needs. My dream is that there will be a building full of laughter, friendship, fellowship, love and hope. Hope for a better future and a brighter tomorrow. Hope in the One who created each of us and faithfully loves us. Hope that life, and Liberia, will change and that progress will come.

Now I am inviting you to join me! I will be traveling to Liberia in mid-March for three weeks, and will be on a scouting mission. I need to continue conversations with people, look for a space, create a budget, figure out logistics, seek out information, prayer walk in potential communities and of course see the children! It’s very difficult to do most of these things from the comfort of my home (there is no Liberia real estate website), so that is why I need to travel. Also, my Liberian residency expires April 14th, so I need to go and come back before then. After I return from Liberia, it will be time to start things on this side of the ocean--fundraising, paperwork for a 501(c)3 status, planning, collecting and shipping supplies, and preparing myself to return to Liberia full-time.

There is so much more to the big picture (you should see my diagram!), and I hope to reveal all of those things to you over time. Right now, I simply need your prayers! This is one big and scary leap of faith! I need continued direction and guidance. Also, if you are interested in making a donation to help with the cost of my trip ($1,000 is needed), you can donate through PayPal (the button on the right hand side), as well as with cash or a check. Please contact me if you have any questions, or if you’d like to sit down and hear more about this incredible dream. I love you all and I am so honored that you have joined me on this journey. I cannot say it enough--this simply wouldn’t be possible without you!

A reminder in my journal from Theodore Roethke.

1 comment:

donna b said...

You are an AMAZING young woman Ashley and I will continue to pray for your "dream" and know that He will make it happen! Much love to you from AR!