They say the average undergrad student changes their major about five times. I’ve always regarded this statistic slightly pridefully, with the air of smugness that comes from “having it all planned out.” I’ll graduate from Moody in 3.5 years with a degree in TESOL (and Bible, of course), and move to Central/South America. (Hopefully getting married somewhere in there.) There, I’ll teach English fulltime as a missionary and, on the side, work with teenage/young adult girls who have been abused or involved in the sex trade. Sounds like a good plan, right?
Let me back up about four years. I was reading the book “Zealous Love” by Mike and Danae Yankoski, and came to the chapter on human trafficking. Tears poured down my cheeks and my stomach turned as I read the accounts of girls, often as young as 5 or 6 years old, who were sold into the sex trade. An overwhelming feeling came over me as my heart broke for these women. As a 14 or 15 year old, I didn’t really know what to do with that feeling, but I bookmarked a few blogs and vowed to pray for the women and children caught up in that sickening industry.
Last year, on a whim, I picked up a $5 CD at Family Christian Bookstore. It was called “Freedom: Artists United for the International Justice Mission,” and it featured several bands I like. As I looked over the packaging, I realized it was a fundraiser for IJM and included a DVD. I watched the DVD one night and cried again as the stories of women who had been rescued from prostitution and slavery… but all I did was cry. After all, I already had my plan (see above).
My plan started out really well. I came to Moody. I declared TESOL as my major. I started Intro to TESOL. I observed some classes, wrote some lesson plans… and… little by little, realized I don’t really want to spend every day of the rest of my life in a classroom/writing lesson plans. Rather than being super excited for my upcoming classes, teaching for PCM, and my internship, I would kind of slump my shoulders and resign myself to the coming realities.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about feeling convicted and not knowing what to do about it. After I wrote that, I started to pray a lot about where I was going with my life. The books I’ve been reading, things I’ve been studying, and discussions we’ve been having at Gospel Community have made me realize I need to do something different. I’ve been slapped in the face a lot lately with the reality that, while it is an incredible door into lives, English is not a basic need. Those who are starving, being sold, without homes, or in desperate need of true love do not need to learn English. They need food, freedom, shelter, or love.
As I prayed, I began to realize something. When I think about my true dream – the thing I’m the most excited about when I tell people “my plan,” – it’s not standing in front of a class or writing lesson plans. It’s the part I always refer to as “on the side.” It’s the reason I attempted to interdisciplinary (basically a minor, for those of you who don’t go to Moody) in pre-counseling. I want to work with girls who have been wounded, sold, and stolen. Girls who had their innocence ripped away from them, who were so desperate for money that they sold their right to themselves. I want to teach them that they have worth, that they are beautiful. To LOVE them. To show them the One who will never, ever abuse them. From the first time I read about the issue of sexual exploitation, I have had a burden in my heart for those girls.
Yesterday, in chapel, one of our professors stood at the podium and said she had a “very exciting announcement.” She announced that Moody was beginning a new major: Ministry to Victims of Sexual Exploitation. As she explained the details, tears pooled in my eyes and my mind began scrambling. The first conscious thought I had was, “I have to do this,” followed shortly by about six reasons why there was no possible way I could do this.
One at a time, throughout the day yesterday, God countered each of those points. In fact, He didn’t just counter them, He gave me even more reasons why I needed to lace up my shoes and run. I called my mom, who had been sitting in a chapel at Bo’s school while I was in chapel. Their speaker was a missionary from Peru (of all places!) who runs a shelter for battered women… many of whom have been rescued from sexual exploitation. The first class for this major fit PERFECTLY into an hour and fifteen minute hole that just happened to be in my fall schedule. 9-12 more credits from Mott would transfer in with the switch.
I got my change of major form this afternoon and filled it out. When I went to the Missions Department to have it signed, the hallway seemed deserted. “Okay, God,” I whispered. “I’m 99% sure this is what I’m supposed to do… but if it REALLY is… just give me one more sign?” (Oh, me of little faith…) I walked to the end of the hall, towards what I was certain would be a deserted office, and there was Dr. Sisk. He signed off on my major change as chair of the Missions Department, and I was gone in about 30 seconds.
I could easily write another 900+ words about all of the tiny details, “coincidences,” and neon signs shouting that I should go ahead with this that have happened in the last 48 hours… but I’ll spare you the extra reading. As of next week, everything should be approved, and my major will be officially changed from TESOL to Ministry to Victims of Sexual Exploitation. Do I have a 5 or 10 year plan? Nope. But He does, and I know that there’s nothing better for me than His plan.