Soccer Field to the Mission Field

Last Spring break, I went to Haiti with my youth ministry at my church. I had been on one mission trip to Costa Rica the previous year, but going to Haiti was completely different. The culture, people, language... Everything was different, obviously. There was one specific event that literally changed my life forever, it will always be in my heart. We went to a village in Bercy, where there were multiple Haitian children who did nothing but run in a dirt field all day. We were on a school bus and started to drive through the village, and children just came running out of nowhere and chasing the bus from behind. The joy on their faces, was something that I will never forget. We got off the bus, and immediately, we were attacked by the kids. I remember walking up the dirt hill with one kid on my leg, one on my shoulders, and holding another kid in my arms. We made it to the top of the hill, and they all got off in complete excitement to see about twenty-five white people who wanted to play. I took a moment, first to catch my breath from carrying the kids, but also to soak up all that was going on around me. I remember saying to myself, “Dang, Jesus is so good.” I turn to my right, and I made eye contact with a very young girl(Who is in the picture at the top and the other pictures below), who was about 3 or 4 years old. We locked eyes and she came running towards me. Oh also.. She was completely naked, but sadly, that was normal for the village that we were at. As she was running towards me, I got down on my knees and put my arms straight out in front of me, signifying that I was ready for a giant hug. She came running, with the biggest smile on her face that I have ever seen, and embraced a hug filled with giggles, smiles, and a few short words in Creole. Well, I thought it was just going to be a hug.. But she wrapped her small, dirt-filled arms around my neck, squeezed as tight as she could, and wouldn’t let go. I picked her up, and carried her around for the rest of the time that we were there, a solid hour with a naked Haitian girl in my arms. Weird, right? But, it was one of the happiest, joy-filled moments of my entire life. We took pictures, exchanged a few words in Creole, and saw her be in complete joy as I would toss her in the air over and over again. The time sadly came, where we had to leave. I knew it was going to be hard to leave her, but it was going to have to happen in the next few dreadful moments. We all walked back down the dirt hill together, still, with the girl in my arms. She was still smiling, giggling, wearing my sunglasses, and being intrigued by my white skin and blonde hair. We were right in front of the bus, and I held on to her as long as I could, but knew it was time. I tried to put her down, but she grabbed onto my shirt and wouldn’t let go. I pulled her hand off of my shirt, and put her on the ground. She looked up at me in complete confusion and sadness. I started to walk away, but she soon clinched her fist around my skirt and refused to let go. I stepped one foot onto the bus, and slowly pulled her hand off of my skirt and waved good-bye. My heart was broken. How can I just leave her here? Who is going to take care of her? She waved back, and we slowly departed the village. Tears filled my eyes, but Jesus spoke through my heart ache and tears. I knew, in that moment, that Jesus had called me to the mission field. Then, Jesus spoke again. This is your passion, this is your calling. In that moment, I had never felt more alive and excited for my future in my entire life.

Before this, I struggled to find out what my true calling in my life was. I have always been sports-minded, ever since I was three years old. I played multiple sports from the age of 3, and continued this all the way throughout high school. Ever since I was young, my goal was to play either soccer or basketball at the collegiate level. But Jesus had a different plan. I had multiple offers to play both, soccer and basketball, at the collegiate level. I had actually verbally committed to play both at Tennessee Wesleyan, but soon turned it all down. I knew that my calling was not in sports, but in the mission field. When I finally made the decision to turn it all away, everyone thought I was completely insane and out of my mind. “D’Anna, do you realize the opportunity you have in front of you? Do you understand what all you are turning away? What are you going to do without sports? D’Anna, what the heck are you doing?” While family, friends, coaches, teachers, and others asked me these questions, some days I was asking God the exact same questions. But I knew He had a plan, and His plan was far better and more perfect than mine was, so I trusted. Francis Chan says it best, “You do crazy things when you’re in love.” Jesus’s love calls us to do radical and extraordinary things for His name. People say, “Why missions? Why now?” My response is as simple as I can make it...”God has made it clear that this is what He has called me to do. If you take missions out of the Bible, you won’t have anything left but the covers.”

“How beautiful are the feet of messengers, who bring good news!” -Romans 10:15

Frustrating at times, but I trusted in the One who knows me better than myself, and my Jesus provided, and has opened numerous doors for me in the mission field. His plan is far greater than anything that I had intended for my future. That little Haitian girl will never know that she changed my life forever, but I will forever treasure this moment in my heart. David Platt, a commonly known pastor and evangelist, once said something that I couldn’t say any better myself. This is the gospel… “Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names...see their faces…hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.

Go, Send, or disobey. -John Piper

To stay here and disobey God — I can’t afford to take the consequence. I would rather go and obey God than to stay here and know that I disobeyed. I am confident that if Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him. Am I scared and frightened of where He may lead me? Absolutely, but I rest in knowing that I am safe in His arms, the One who created the entire universe and knows the number of hairs on my head. If He is for me, than who could EVER be against me? “The God of angel armies is always on my side.” When I become scared of where God is leading me, I think of it this way.. If you found a cure for cancer, wouldn’t it be absolutely absurd and selfish to not share it with the rest of mankind? How much more absurd and selfish is it to keep silent the cure from the eternal wages of death? I am much more terrified of living a comfortable, life in a self-serving society and failing to follow Jesu than I am of any illness or tragedy. -Katie Davis

There is something wonderfully sacred that happens when someone looks past being set aside to see God’s calling to be set apart. -Lysa Terkeurst

God broke my heart when I had to leave that little Haitian girl, but I have learned to pay attention to what breaks your heart. Chances are, that’s where God wants you to serve. C.T. Studd once said, “Christ wants not nibblers of the possible, but grabbers of the impossible.” Things may still seem unclear, but I have learned that we must just simply surrender and say, “Jesus, USE ME.” I pray that I will live out one of my favorite verses in the entire Bible, Isaiah 6:8, which simply states.. “Here I am Lord, Send me.” There is no mile marker for where love is taking us. No map. No compass. Just Jesus. Jesus will call each of us to do insane and crazy things for His name, but we have to be willing to let Him in and change us. God will guide our footsteps, but we have to be willing to move our feet. Some wish to live within the sound of a chapel bell, but I wish to run throughout third world countries and proclaim the name of Jesus. Crazy I know… But Jesus lives inside of me and has called me to do something radical. I want to feed the hungry children, reach across the furthest land, and tell the broken that there is healing and mercy in the Father’s hands. What has He called you to? Love has no limits. No borders.

Much love, my friend.

D'Anna Johnson