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And Jesus said “go and make disciples of all the nations (Matthew 16:19)…”
So that is what I did, and I haven’t stopped going since because the nations deserve so deeply to hear, witness, see and know Jesus.
My name is Ellie, and I am a 19 year old woman who was born in Portland, Oregon but is living as a missionary in Tijuana, Mexico. I grew up in a lowercase “c” christian home, meaning we went to church but our lives weren’t truly transformed by Jesus. I am and was the classic first born child and grandchild in my family, the one that received all of the great expectations about what I would amount to and accomplish, the child that the parents and grandparents vicariously lived through. That was me. Growing up I was always told that I was the “kid that would do something with her life” or that I would go to college to become a lawyer or doctor, going into ministry wasn’t ever on my radar.
But that all changed the summer after my sophomore year of High School.
The year was 2019, I was 17 at the time, and had taken a summer trip with my church to build a house for a family in poverty in Tijuana, Mexico. I had decided to go because it seemed like the cool thing to do (classic motivation right for a high schooler?!). I would be able to experience a new country with my friends and help build a house for a family in need, which seemed like a win-win situation.
Earlier that day we had just finished building the house and handing over the keys to the family, and I found myself sitting on the cold bathroom floor of our hostel wanting to find space and time to journal as all my roommates had gone to sleep and the lights were off. I wanted to write down what God was doing in my heart and what He was speaking to me as earlier that day I had a pretty life changing experience with Him.
To this day, I can remember these moments so vividly.
During worship, I was praying and talking to God and I saw in my mind’s eye God showing me a picture of a key, similar to the house key that we gave the family after we prayed over their home. I knew God was trying to speak to me through the image but I wasn’t making sense of it or understanding really what He was trying to say. I didn’t want to let this image pass which is why I found myself on the cold hard bathroom floor at midnight journaling. As I was sitting there and trying to process the image, I heard the Lord speak. And not in an audible voice, though I wish, but more of a feeling that pulled at my heart strings. He said, “you have the keys to the kingdom and your job is to give them to people.”
Wow. What?! And it was in that moment, at midnight in a bathroom that I felt my call to missions in Mexico.
I never imagined I’d live in Mexico as a missionary and very few people in my own life wanted that for me either. The crazy beautiful thing though is that it’s not about what I want for my life or what people around me want for my life. Ultimately God has the best plan, He’s the best Author, the best Illustrator, the best Creator and I want what He wants for my life!
A small house. That is what I got tattooed on my right-bicep shortly after coming back from my trip because of how important those three days were building that home. But for me, that symbol goes even deeper. That small house is a symbol of not only a physical place here on the earth but also the eternal home we receive when we say “yes” to being in relationship with Jesus.
“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?” – John 14:2
I love this verse as at makes me picture the Father and the Son preparing a place for all of us who have said “yes” to Him. A place of pure perfection, joy and peace. Now, I can only imagine in part but I know God is good and what this actual “house” will be, will be far greater than I could ever imagine!
I remember after God told me that I had the keys to the Kingdom, I was ecstatic to myself and to people who were very close to me but I held a sense of timidity when sharing to others about where God wanted me to go and what God wanted me to do.
And I felt this tug on my heart over the two long years that I had to wait between hearing this call to Mexico and being able to act on it. When the Lord called me, I was just about to start my Junior year of High School and I knew I had to graduate before I surrendered everything to live and work in Mexico. And that season of waiting was hard.
The hardest thing about that season was receiving so much criticism from the people in my life that I respected and looked up to. Family members were saying things like, “you were going to be the kid that went to college and did something with your life.” And misunderstanding from classmates and teachers were expressed in phrases that made me feel like I was “throwing my life away.” People belittled me because at the end of the day they did not understand why I would follow God “to the ends of the earth.”
I was told that I would never be successful and that I was wasting my potential. That fight of the world versus the Kingdom never triumphed in my own mind but in the mind of many that I know and came into contact with, that train of thinking reigned.
Following the Kingdom of the living God is so much more powerful and fruitful than anything else and I’ve witnessed that first hand. Even in times of stress and quite honestly moments where I felt like Mexico might not be worth it because of the voices of people around me, God ALWAYS came through, every single time. Every time I was close to giving up someone on my support team, called or texted me, money came in to help fund my mission or I got a clear sign from God to keep persisting.
And finally, September 2021, after I graduated High School, I went back! As the great commission said and as God promised me I served in Mexico for five months and it was the sweetest five months of my life to date. I was given the opportunity to go and serve in the midst of the global pandemic when all hope seemed lost to so many. I got to witness Jesus encountering people in small villages, suburbs and big cities. Where Spanish and different dialects of Spanish were spoken. I got to see Jesus work in ways that I’ve never witnessed before. I saw God transform peoples lives, demons cast out, prayers being prayed for physical and emotional healing, and freedom for women in prostitution and through all of those things and more – showing people the love of Jesus walking alongside them.
Sometimes I sit and think about how my life would have looked so different if I didn’t persist. I think about if wasn’t able to stand firm against the critical voices of my family and friends and went to college or just decided that missions wasn’t for me. I think about all that I would’ve missed if I didn’t hold tight to God’s promises.
And I want to ask YOU that same question too, what are you going to miss out on if you don’t persist in what God is calling you to?!
For me, I would’ve missed walking with people and telling them about the love of Jesus. I would’ve missed seeing Jesus redeem lost souls. I would’ve missed cleaning car windows in a small suburb of Jalisco, Mexico so that people could feel loved. I would have missed the countless relationships I have made and memories I have experienced. I would have missed it all!
Every small detail, every big revival and all the moments in between.
If I can encourage you in anything my biggest encouragement is this: Follow Jesus’ voice, not the approval of other people, not the standards of others – Simply Jesus. I had a friend once tell me, Jesus lovingly shouts at those who don’t know Him and He whispers to those He knows. So, be sensitive to the whisper.
“After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” – 1 Kings 19:12
In this verse, Elijah is seeking after and trying to hear God’s voice, yet God’s voice wasn’t in the obvious and the loud things but instead He spoke softly in the quiet and stillness. Oftentimes we have to find the quiet to hear God, I sure know that I had to do a lot of that when I was sitting and waiting to go to Mexico.
By the time this article has been published I’ll have be back in Mexico for a month on my third trip over here! The promise of God will have come to completion and the promised land will be sitting in front of me in all of its radiant glory. I’ll be serving in different areas of Tijuana and creating a life down there that is rooted in and partnered with the Trinity. And I can’t wait for what God is going to do next.
I pray you too can get out there and be bold in what God is calling you to. That doesn’t have to mean going to a foreign country or being a missionary but remember, wherever your two feet and hands are – that is your mission field and we are called to carry God’s name well wherever we go!
Go out in boldness, God is with you!
Heyo! I’m Ellie! I grew up in a suburb of Portland, Oregon. I love all things coffee, thrifting & disco balls. The crazy part about me is that I followed God to Mexico and I would do it over and over and over again. I’d follow Him to the ends of the earth if I got the opportunity.
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