At 15 years old I was lying in my bed half asleep and half drunk from a little too crazy of a night with friends. My brother was in the bathroom taking care of my vomiting friend that I had brought home with me, so that she wouldn't get in trouble by her parents. A voice said, "Jessika". It was so clear that I sat up in my bed thinking that perhaps my brother was asking for me in the other room. "Yes?," I said. No response. I laid back down not much feeling like sitting up in my condition. "Jessika". "Yes?," Finally a third time, "Jessika." The third time struck a cord in my Spirit that I hadn't felt in quite some time as I had been whole heartedly running away from the Savior who had once directed my life. "Lord?" I replied. He spoke.
"Today I set before you life and death, and I plead with you choose life"
I sat up in my bed, grabbed the nearest trash can, and vomited. Immediately I began to cry and I gave my heart back to the One who had been pursuing me. I later found that what He spoke to me is straight from Deuteronomy 30:19.
I was 18 years old asleep in my dorm room after a typical night of hanging out with some friends and talking about Jesus and the plan of God for our lives. After that night at 15 years old I had been pursuing after God with all that was in me and I was blessed to have friends who did the same. Little did I know that this typical night of Jesus discussion would actually once again change the course of my life. I had been talking to Randi about her upcoming 3 month trip to Africa and had responded ignorantly, "I'm so glad God hasn't called me to do that, I will always stay in America". At 4 a.m. in the morning a now familiar voice spoke once again, "Jessika." "Yes Lord?", I responded. "You will go to Africa". "Oh, Oh, Okay, Lord". At 4 a.m. there's not many questions that come to mind when He gives you directions, yes seems to be the typical response. I immediately got out of bed, got on my laptop, and began to research Africa.
I was 24 years old beside my bed in my apartment asking God where He'd have me go next. I'd now been to several countries in Africa over the last four years and now coming and going was just a lifestyle that I expected for Daddy to continue in me for years to come. "Master, where shall we go this year?" I asked. One unfamiliar word came loud and clear, "Sudan". I ran out of my room to tell my brother who was sitting on the couch, drinking coffee, and reading his Bible as was his typical morning routine as well. "JACOB, I'M GONG TO SUDAN THIS SUMMER!!" I am always elated when the answer comes so clearly, as you must know it's not always so easy. The elation lasted about 3.7 seconds as he responds, "NO, YOU ARE NOT!". Oh I tried to explain to him that the Father had said I was going, and I was going. He very simply grabbed his laptop pulled up a map and explained that DARFUR was in SUDAN... Now Sudan I was not familiar with, but DARFUR I was. You can imagine the struggle inwardly, as well with family and friends, as I began to obediently plan a trip to Sudan, Africa and in July 2012, the one year independence of South Sudan, I was there to celebrate with the newest nation on the planet.
I was lying on the ground, back aching, tears streaming, under a backpackers tent in Yei, South Sudan. This trip had already caused more emotion, conviction, change, growth, than I had ever experienced in such a short time. I was broken before the Lord and knew in the depth of who I was, that I would never be the same. Then that familiar voice spoke again, "Jessika, I want you to create a culture of miracles". Oh this time I wasn't so quick to agree. Did He not see how broken I was? Did He not see all the flaws I was seeing in myself? Did He not see that my faith was smaller than that of some of these Sudanese 5 year olds? Oh this strong woman of God that arrived in South Sudan was being put back into the pre-school of faith already. There was no way I could answer this assignment. How do we create a culture of miracles? What is a CULTURE OF MIRACLES anyway?
I was 25 years old serving as a youth pastor in Ville Platte, Louisiana. I'd picked up a book by Heidi and Rolland Baker when one line so jumped off the page.
"We live in a CULTURE OF MIRACLES" ~Rolland Baker
I knew that I had better find out more about Heidi and Rolland to add to the limited information I had about them already. One thing led to another and I went to hear Heidi speak in San Antonio, Texas, found out about a mission trip visiting her base in Pemba, Mozambique, and signed up.
In six days I'll be visiting Iris Ministries base in Mozambique, where I believe from the depth of my heart that God will once again change my life. I can't even explain the details of my expectation, but I know that at the end of this trip I will have a better understanding of what God meant a year ago, in a tent, in South Sudan.
Please be praying for me as the time approaches. Last year I pleaded and begged for a prayer covering like none other, because I knew I was going to an unstable region and I knew I needed protection. I know that you prayed because through your prayers, God changed my life.
This year I'm asking you, my faithful friends and partners, to once again diligently pray for me as I feel God is wanting to do something beyond my comprehension.
We go on mission trips to share the gospel with a lost and dying world, we go to be the hands and feet of Jesus, to minister to and love on the orphan, the widow, the poor, the hurting. We go to administer the healing touch of Jesus Christ, the One who touched me at 15 years old. However, it never fails that in the midst of holding the orphan, preaching the gospel, praying for the sick, God seems to change me more than I ever change them. I know this is because of the prayers of the saints.
Please continue to check the blog over the next few days for updates and I will write a blog upon my return to the states in July.
You can still check out my youcaring.com/jessikatate site for details or to make donations.
You're prayers are invaluable to me.
I'll be leaving for New York on June 24th, leave New York for Amsterdam the following night, and be in Pemba on June 25th.
I'll be returning to Houston on July 9th.