July 2012 - Vol. 61

Elyssa (front center) at a Koinonia weekend retreat with friends 
“Here I am Lord, send me wherever you want” 
by Elyssa Fawaz

Last year, when I looked back on my life, and saw the great things God had done for me, I said to him: “Here I am Lord, send me wherever you want.” I wanted to do something for him in return, I wanted to change the world, I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives, and I wanted to spread the good news. 

ME… ME… ME… ME… 

It wasn’t very long after the beginning of my Kairos GAP year that God made it clear that it wasn’t at all about me doing things for him, but him loving me and being faithful to the promises of making me new! 

It was indeed a decision I had made, but firstly, I sensed a personal invitation from him at this time, to know more of his love, to draw near to him, and to be his warrior. I was so surprised at how much he was concerned for and interested in me. He wanted to shape me into his disciple – a child that can follow him and build his kingdom alongside him.

Bit by bit, throughout the Kairos GAP year, the Lord worked to change me and to reveal for me a new beginning.

The change started with honesty
When I was searching to be super together and super holy both with people and with God, God reminded me that he already knew me, that my life does not have to be complicated, and more, it does not have to be hidden. As I became more true to myself and to the people around me, great Christ-centred relationships were formed and the students I was meeting up with were more open to listening to God’s word. With simple and honest prayer I began to tell the Lord what was really on my heart, and not what I wished would be on my heart. This helped me to open the door to what was really inside my heart and for him to transform what needed to be transformed. 

The change also started with wanting
A distinction has been made this year between wanting to be a disciple and being capable of being one. More importantly a third phase came in-between: there was a time of sitting down and considering whether I could do what God wanted me to do. This period is the one I really struggle with, because it involves waiting, it involves still doing well what I was enthusiastic about at the beginning despite the loss of the enthusiasm. It involves being patient and still, and letting God take the lead. 

I discovered also that maturity is inevitable in our discipleship journey, and that God wants us to use our intelligence and our mental capacities. When I began the gap year my heart desired to serve but my mind was switched off. And then I realized that one's my mind is very useful for pressing on in zeal. I began to understand that my mind was needed for decision-making and for continuing to press on toward the goal, especially when the excitement goes away. Discipline, organization, responsibility and change of bad habits have started to be practiced thanks to the wisdom God was offering me!

The transformation started with expecting
God had invited me for the Kairos GAP year in London one month before the GAP program started, and had put the desire in my heart to set a year apart for him. But with no prior planning, I had no money, no time, and no language abilities. I also had to face leaving my parents and my friends, let go of the plans I had for myself and go to the unknown. On a practical level, I felt that God would have to make it happen if the doors were to open. This is how I started to expect big, impossible things from him. And here I am, already at the end of my Kairos GAP year looking back and seeing how God was providing financially every time I was in need, how he managed my time, how my English improved a lot, and how it seemed to improve dramatically every time I was talking about him to students! God used this as an exercise to teach me that I can be absolutely certain that he is able to turn the impossible into the possible, and to know that faith is a gift that has to be exercised for it to take affect. This is how expecting miracles became more normal and natural for me. Certain spiritual gifts that I had heard about or read about in the Bible, were granted to me when I asked for them in faith! Confidently expecting help from God, allowed me to see miracles happening in the lives of people around me. More importantly I was able to see God at work as I witnessed the transformed life of the students, my fellow gapers, and myself. There are many many stories to tell! I experienced incredible love and power from the Lord by just opening up, expecting and accepting.

It started with love
I could see myself giving a lot, and then at some point measuring what I got back, starting to keep score. In trying to love others in all circumstances – especially when serving and giving to others was not reciprocated or was taken for granted – I was very disappointed that my own needs were not being met! When I had reached the limit of my own love, I cried for help and God was very quick to open my eyes, and to show me that love that expects something in return is a human being’s love.  It comes to an end and cannot give any more because it needs God’s unconditional love to replace it. I learned that the “sitting down” and “waiting” for God to act – not previously my favourite approach – became the one I liked best because I could receive the love (for him and for others) which springs from him first loving me.

The change started with the Lord adding color
In this journey of freedom, God dealt with a lot of what was in black and white in me of weaknesses, of hidden desires, of wrong motivations – and colored them in vivid colors so I could see them, to admit them and offer them to him. As you can see from all the above, he has had to deal with the pride in me, and has worked to turn me into a disciple that he can use and that he can count on!

It all started by saying yes to putting myself in a place where I could receive more of God’s grace in such a time like this.

And today, the Kairos Gap year finishes as it had started by me saying now with much great confidence, zeal, motivation, and joy: “Here I am Lord, send me wherever you want.” 
Elyssa Fawaz is from Lebanon. She has been an active member of University Christian Outreach in Beirut since 2008. She graduated in 2011 with a Masters in Environmental Engineering. 

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