Sometimes, out of fear, we don’t do what God calls us to do.
Seventeen months ago, January 2016, I felt the Lord prodding me to move forward into raising full-time wage support for LoveAIDS. (I was still in Costa Rica at the time.)
But I was too scared.
“What if all the financial support does not come in?”
“Lord, I want to go to medical school!!
“But this is NOT THE PLAN I HAVE FOR MY LIFE!!!”
Do you ever do that? Do you have an area of your life where you keep hearing the prodding of the Holy Spirit saying, “I need you to do this,” or “I want you to do this,” and you resist?
I was working in Costa Rica with our AIDS and HIV patients, serving the facility out there in Cartago and carrying out the care plan the physical therapist weekly laid out for our patients. I did not have a salary, but our non-profit’s expenses were covered by donations that many had sacrificially made so that I could be there doing the work.
When I was not at the AIDS facility, I was often sitting at the table in my kitchen handling receipts. Preparing financial reports. Handling our website. Handling correspondence with one or more of our ministry partners back in the United States. Preparing for meetings in the United States. Scheduling for our summer trip to receive our first volunteer. Working through paperwork from the IRS or Washington state. Setting up direct billing with organizations we partner with so we can do our work. Spending hours upon hours trying to write a new blog post… Most who do not specialize in administration do not realize this, but for as many hours were spent with patients, I had as many hours I needed to put in with operational matters.
My kitchen table incidentally doubled as my desk for my LoveAIDS work as my kitchen incidentally also doubled as my LoveAIDS office.)
And I easily could put in 60-80 hours in a work week, with always more work to do….
When I needed to purchase shampoo, when I hoped to take the bus to the beach and back in a $20 same-day trip, when I wanted to register for a half marathon (which, only costs about $40 in Costa Rica,) I was required to Skype call my father back in the United States and ask for help. My father, who had had cancer, and who was not in the same financial condition to be helping his daughter with any financial needs as he had been in previously.
Because I did not have a car and could not afford a car, it was very slow getting around town. Mind you, traffic is not good anyway in San Jose, Costa Rica, and I think it would be fair to compare it to Los Angeles traffic. But my limited funds made it very difficult to get around town to develop friendships and get my needs for fellowship met.
And the Lord was telling me, “I need you to start raising full-time support so that you can receive a living wage.”
Oh, the fear…the fear that I felt….
Together as a LoveAIDS team of donors and fieldworkers, we got good work done. Many HIV/AIDS patients improved and were able to walk again and to have increased mobility. A number of our patients died, and I was able to provide palliative care and a spiritual hope to them. The nature of health care is that some stories can be shared, but personally identifying information cannot be released, or I would share differently and more.
But what I saw was that the work was there, needing to be done, the need was there, needing to be filled, and that workers were needed. I intended to obey God’s leading by continuing the work with LoveAIDS. It was not the full obedience that I sensed Him calling me to, of raising full-time support, but in my mind, I rationalized that I was still moving forward in obedience.
When I arrived back to the United States, I faced a number of delays. I lost my housing a ministry supporter had previously offered to me (her father was diagnosed with a terminal diagnosis and as a result her priorities were forced to change.) This caused me not to have a home for a number of months and slowed down how quickly I could help LoveAIDS move into this next season.
A troublemaker targeted our organization as a vessel through which she could accomplish her desires, desires that were contradictory to our mission statement and which could not be justified to IRS authorities. And, although from the outside it seems simple to deal with, I spent a couple months handling that situation. The blessing is that I learned how to deal with similar situations for the future; however, it came at a price of using my precious volunteer hours, when I had so much to get done.
My third delay was the utter instability of the job market as a Certified Nursing Assistant. I confess this was the loving Father’s chastening tool. Because I had a few good employers previously, I had not realized how unprotected nursing assistants are in their jobs, at the bottom of the totem pole in health care. I want to use professional discretion and think it is wise not to share more about my personal experience other than share that it is practically impossible to prove peer-to-peer bullying and to stop it. (Due to the sensitive nature, I kindly ask that the topic of bullying not be made the center of attention in any feedback on my blog post.)
After three jobs in which I was the victim of relentless bullying, 1) I was more than filled with compassion for all the immigrant peoples who hold most of these jobs who, because of a lack of other options, tolerate daily behavior from their peers out of fear of losing their jobs, and 2) I was more than ready to say, “Okay, Lord, I am fully decided to obey. This scares me, but I will trust you. My way is not working. Your will be done. I will step out to raise full-time support with LoveAIDS and take this work forward which you are leading me into.”
So here I am, finally saying something that is overdue, that I needed to have done almost seventeen months ago. “Yes, Lord, I will follow You all the way. All the way. I will move forward into raising full-time wage support with LoveAIDS. I will move forward in faith, trusting that you will provide.”
And please know that LoveAIDS already has financial partners who have been partnering financially with us for a while with the commitment to providing me a living wage. Yes, this step of faith and of obedience for me was overdue for some time.
I need to apologize to you, our faithful partners, financial supporters, prayer warriors. It may be that the Lord prodded you forward to partner financially with us in this new season, but I had never taken that step of obedience, so you, in your heart before the Lord, were left hanging. Please forgive me. In our obedience, or lack of obedience, to the Lord, we all affect each other. We are part of each other’s walk, though at times we realize it or not.
Well, I have decided to trust and obey the Lord now. I am moving forward. I treasure your faithful prayers and financial partnership, in whatever way the Lord asks you to walk with Him. Thank you so much for accompanying LoveAIDS and me on this journey.
“For the love of Christ compels us….” (2nd Corinthians 5:14)
[Just a “disclaimer:” I do not know that I will (or will not) be moving forward towards medical school. Medical school is still on my heart and showing up in my long-term “plans.” I just think it is more important at this time to trust and obey, to truly walk in surrender with our Lord.]
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Ingrid Anne Stavrica
LoveAIDS would like to remind our partners & public that we are limited in both the stories and photos we can share do to needing to protect patient confidentiality, complying with patient privacy laws originating within both the U.S and the countries we work with.