I’ve never been to Africa. I’ve never watched a woman’s fingers weave a basket together for hours on end. I’ve never witnessed the tedious work of making beads and stringing each one into a necklace. I’ve never smelt the leather of the journals as the pages are bound together. I’ve never wrapped my arms around the giggling orphans. I’ve never spoken to the women who trust that the Lord will turn the work of their hands into a profit that will eventually put food into the mouths of the people they love. But I have prayed for them. I’ve prayed for the orphans, the widows, the missionaries, the land, and that God would show me how to love and serve them, even from thousands of miles away.
I live in Starkville, Mississippi, and I’ve found that it’s very easy to settle into the lull of the small college town, forgetting that anything exists outside of the red lights on Highway 12, the buzz of voices in the Cotton District, the thousands of pages to read, the stacks of papers to write. It’s comfortable, it’s cozy, and I probably don’t have to tell you that it’s not Africa. Why is it that when we hear that we should live on mission, we immediately disregard it because we can’t picture ourselves leaving our stuff, our people, and getting on a plane to go to the ends of the earth? How can we say that we haven’t been called to missions when the ends of the earth may be a few streets over, the family next door, the girl that sits next to you in class? This summer, as I was going through my normal, comfortable routine, walking to campus with my headphones in, I listened to the words flowing into my ears, and I felt called out. “If we are the Body, why aren’t His arms reaching? Why aren’t His hands healing? Why aren’t His words teaching?” I felt like I couldn’t answer the why, and I felt the overwhelming sense that I was missing the point, the purpose, of why Jesus lead me to Starkville, Mississippi in the first place. I began to ask Jesus to reveal to me how I could live on mission where He planted me, how I could bring glory to His name here, and as soon as I heard about the Reclaimed Project internship, I knew that He heard me and was giving me His answer. I didn’t know how the Lord was going to work through Reclaimed in my life, where he might lead me, or the specific ways that I was going to serve, but I could hear Him saying Trust me. Follow me. I have so much good in store for you. So I said yes.
In the first few weeks of my internship, I’ve learned and grown with a community of women who each have a heart for the nations, a heart to serve, and a heart following hard after Jesus. I’ve had a community to love and pray over me when circumstances in my life took a turn from the comfortable and routine. I’ve been able to love on and pray over my fellow interns who are walking through busyness, looming decisions, and heavy workloads. I’ve had the opportunity to coordinate Reclaimed Project trunk shows with different organizations, specifically Greek life, to sell the merchandise that the women, whose hands I’ve prayed for, created. Throughout the semester, I’ll be able to live on mission with Reclaimed by finding ways to link Reclaimed Project and the message that it carries to the students on Mississippi State’s campus, and what an incredible experience it will be! After serving with Reclaimed for a few weeks, I know that one semester could never be enough, and with graduation two semesters away, I’ve begun to pray through ways that I could continue to serve Reclaimed Project and live on mission through my career. I’ve felt Jesus calling me to teach English in the Mississippi public school system, specifically a critical needs high school, since I started school as a Secondary Education major, and in God’s perfect timing, Reclaimed reached out to the community of Marks, Mississippi, looking for nurses, for doctors, and for teachers to move to the community, just before I began my senior year of college. I know that there are no coincidences within the Kingdom, and I know that we serve a God who knits together our futures so beautifully, even in the midst of our doubt and fear. I know that I still have to graduate (Lord-willing), I still have to find an English position, and I still have to interview for a job, but I know that my Jesus carries me through every obstacle. I know that if it’s in His will, a year from now, I’ll be standing in front of a class full of students at Madison S. Palmer High School in the town of Marks, Mississippi, serving with Reclaimed, living on mission.
Shelby Williams, Fall 2016 Reclaimed Project Intern