Stepping Away

Challenge & Revelation

Being the hero means making a choice and it’s not always the easy one.

 

The end of 2016 held deep reflecting. I questioned a lot of my decisions from the past. I dug into my mindsets and values that had defined the year. The ups and downs had brought a realization of emptiness and dissatisfaction. A decision begged to be made but I didn’t know if I had what it took. But I knew if I desired the life I dreamed of, it was time to cut a few things out.

 

You see when I tried to change before a seed tried to take root, but something was holding it back from growing. My heart hadn’t been receiving because the enemy was stealing. The self-destructive outlets I entertained left an empty dull feeling rather than contentment.  My inner desire and pull had always been to find fulfillment through others but the relationships weren’t adding anything to life.

 

How were things going to change if I didn’t have accountability? I had sought it in the past but it bore little fruit. I refused to be entirely vulnerable and admit my mistakes or the temptations leading up to it. Humbling my pride and letting go of my shame meant full disclosure. It was terrifying to seek a new community all while balancing a new life of vulnerability. Rejection taunted me but I took the step of facing the loneliness that plagued me. I was afraid God would see the gunk in my life and stop loving me. Deep down, that was the real fear. Maybe it was time to accept that I never had the answers. I took one little step at a time and read a chapter a day in the gospels trying to get to know someone who gave their life up for someone faulty.

I was slowly reading and stopped at Matthew 13:19-23. One I’d read many times but had never thought how we ask for the right heart before evaluating where we had been, our present scenario, and where He desires us to be.

I saw the different seasons I stumbled through in each example of the soil. Comparison tried to take weed out revelation and the good soil appeared unattainable, all while shame tried to push away revelation. I lacked understanding because I wasn’t entertaining God-honoring things. When trials came I had let go of the knowledge of His sovereignty and clung to faith in myself. My time wasn’t invested in growing my relationship. Rather, I sought to build material things in the attempt to find acceptance.

 

Suddenly, I was staring at the ugly image of self-reliance and the negative results. Isaiah 50 tore at my raw heart and left me reeling. (:10-11) “If you are walking in darkness without a ray of light, trust in the Lord and rely on your God. But watch out, you who live in your own light and warm yourselves by your own fires.”

 

Disclaimer: “Aha” moments have never felt real to me. People say they have them but when you look back to assess you begin to see the slow breeze driving out the fog in order to see what was in front of you the whole time. 

I had made myself my own hero and in the process, the villain.

little-steps

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A Heart For the Lost, A Vision to Deliver

Life updates, Missions

Africa has really been on my heart (more than normal) this past month. I will be going on a long-term missions trip to South Africa in January to intern with Impact Africa for a year. I am so stoked!

When I visited a few months ago, the ministry time that I was involved in was more than I had had in my entire lifetime! We ministered to the people living in dilapidated shacks, walking on beaten paths with broken glass scattered along the dirt floor. These one-bedroom shacks were usually made out of tin, sometimes wood, mostly any scraps that could be found. They paid to live there. They would walk for miles to find a job so that they could eat that day. Yet in a place were tomorrow wasn’t guaranteed, they had such joy.

We ministered to the children living in the camps as well. Just being able to love on these kids and play with them was a tremendous blessing. These camps aren’t always safe, though. Many children who wander around the camp during the day are in danger of being assaulted, like one little girl I met while in South Africa. Her eleven year old neighbor had raped her and she was only 9 years old. One teen girl I talked with while in the camps was finishing high school and was the only one of her many friends that was not sexually active. “I don’t have a lot of friends anymore,” She tells me, “most of them just want to spend time with their boyfriends or are taking care of their children.” I nod as I listen to her. “I want to finish school and do something with my life.” She says. I immediately connect with her, Finally someone with a vision!

In the two weeks I spent there, I have enough stories to write for hours and tell you them all, and I wish I could! But what I’m writing about to you today is much bigger.

We all have places we want to go in life. Plans or dreams that inspire us to keep growing in our walk with God, motivation for the future. I have a dream. A vision God has put on my heart. I want to make an impact on South Africa. I want to spread the Love of God like a wildfire, I want to deliver these people from the cultural lies, dream killing situations, and destiny blocking mentalities. God has put this passion so deep into my heart, I can’t imagine being anywhere else.

Why I am I telling you this?

Because I need you to partner with this vision. It cost 16,000 dollars for a one-year internship. Many of the interns embarking on this trip have had a year to raise the funds, I only have a few short months! The funds will go toward housing, air fare, visa, and living expenses. Without partners who whole-heartedly believe in this mission and the people willing to support in prayer, this trip would be impossible. I believe prayer is the most influential asset in this ministry and I encourage you to be in prayer for salvations, miracles, and healings. Please also intercede that the Lord gives me words of wisdom, favor, protection, and to be in the right place at the right time.

In addition to accepting one-time donations, I’m also looking for monthly partners. Your gift(s) will be tax deductible, IF checks are written to Impact Africa. My name cannot be ANYWHERE on the check if you desire to receive tax credit. I will collect the checks and then send them to Impact Africa.

As a partner, I would like to offer you the opportunity to join with me in this ministry adventure. On the last trip, I wrote every day, sharing my favorite part of ministry, and pictures from that day. These will still be posted on here as well!! I had so many people telling me how the posts affected them and moved them, why not sow a seed into reaching the people of God that you may not necessarily be able to?! Your support in these last couple of months mean so much and I am absolutely psyched to be able to partner with you in this upcoming year, what a great way to start 2013!!

To mail checks send them to:

Impact Africa
PO Box 702511

Saint Cloud, FL 34770

**Include a slip of paper with the ID#IMEAB102 (this will notify them your funds will go to support my account for the internship)**

To give monthly:

-Go to the Impact Africa website

-Select Reoccurring Monthly Donation

-Write my name in the notes to specify your monthly support

If you need any more information, PLEASE email me at ashleybbridges(at)gmail.com . I look forward to hearing from you!