God Doesn’t Need Me. He Chose Me.

Before leading an Ambassador trip to Guatemala last summer, Adventures Staff Deb Jones was struggling. Exhausted and full of grief, she needed restoration.

Then she entered her busy season, and was an instrumental part of mobilizing 132 high school students to the mission field—and went herself as a leader for a two week Guatemala team.

While in Guatemala, God met Deb right where she was. He breathed life into her weary soul and began to repair her broken heart. Basically, after a season of deep pain, God used this Guatemala trip to bring Deb back to life. 

In the weeks leading up to our Ambassador Training Camp on July 1st, I felt lost, disillusioned, overwhelmed, and confused.

As the Mobilizer for the Ambassador program, I had nearly 200 high school students in my queue, plus their parents, and had to help 132 teens get to Georgia and on the field successfully—and then I was also going to lead a team to Guatemala.

It’s my busy season of the year, and I was exhausted before it even began. I felt beaten down, weary, and emotionally ragged from months of dealing with disappointment, loss, disillusionment, pain, and grief. 

My anxiety, masking all of the emotions I couldn’t face, took over. I could not sleep, for nightmares haunted me every time I closed my eyes. The workload never lightened. Social interactions became forced. I woke up everyday, exhausted before it even began.

I was in survival mode, and I realized I had been for a while. 

Though I had initially embraced the healing and grieving process, I’d only allowed myself to go so far. Once I hit that wall, all there was to do was survive. The week before Ambassador training broke me.

It was either choose back into growth and healing or I wouldn’t be able to survive much longer. 

One tear-filled night, I called my counselor friend and she reassured me I wasn’t crazy, that I was trying to process the psychological equivalent of the three most important people in my life dying within one month (including my mother). 

It was okay that I was NOT okay just six months later.

We dove under the blanket of emotion of anxiety, rooted out all the other emotions hiding under there, and invited the Lord into all the dark places I did not want to go. I could sleep again, but I still could not see past each day in front of me.

Then Training Camp started and my 132 high school students were all here in Georgia. It was a relief, a triumph, and strangely like being a pseudo-celebrity. I had the opportunity to meet each of them, to laugh with them, and to teach them.

From deborahjones.myadventures.org

A few days later, we flew to Guatemala, just me, my four co-leaders, and my team of 25. I felt a shift as soon as we landed. As we drove away from the airport, tears filled my eyes. Despite the smog and pollution, I could breathe better than I had since December. In my journal I wrote, It amazes me how quickly you can forget this—how “real life” becomes normal and you forget the things that make you feel alive. 

The love, passion, and dreams I had been stifling for a year began to fight their way back into my heart and mind. 

“You surrendered the wrong things,” God whispered. “I never asked you to sacrifice this.”  

I still had reservations about the trip. With 25 students and just two weeks, how could we give them everything they needed? How could I build deep relationships with each of them? How could I help them debrief effectively and disciple them?

But God had a humbling but gentle reminder for me: He doesn’t need me. I am blessed beyond measure that He chooses to use me, but He doesn’t need me.

I was always where I needed to be and who I needed to be with. I got to guide and give advice. I got to experience laughter and tears. But this team didn’t need me. They debriefed each other. They built beautiful relationships and loved each other well. They boldly stepped out in ministry. They sought after the Lord. They poured their hearts and energy into each day.They had their own deep conversations. And I had the privilege to watch it all happen and play a tiny role in the process. God hand-picked this team for me. 

From deborahjones.myadventures.org 

In my ten days in Guatemala, God did something amazing: He brought me back to life.

I could breathe deeply and walk lighter and hold my head up. I laughed easily. Joy became my companion instead of grief. I could see clearly. My relentless nightmares ceased and I could dream of the future again. I could see the things God had been rescuing and protecting me from, as well as hints of things He might be doing in the future. And I could be excited about those. I was reminded of all I had given up unnecessarily and was able to find those things again.

From deborahjones.myadventures.org

I put down things I was not meant to carry. I could forgive and let go. I could say goodbye.

To be honest, I did not want to come home—to leave all the freedom that I found in Guatemala. As I sat at breakfast sipping coffee my last morning and walking the streets of Antigua alone, soaking in my final moments, I prayed God would seal it all in my heart, that the anxiety that was threatening my return home would not blanket anything again. 

He answered that prayer. 

I carried it all back with me. I have been able to find life and joy. I am reinvesting in old relationships that will be life-giving and beautiful. I am finding myself again. I am still free—free to dance and laugh and dream. Free to have grace in the face of challenging situations, and to have grace given to me. Free to love well, including myself. 

Free to dream big again. 

I am so thankful that God cares about me, that He is the God who restores and sets us free. And that while He doesn’t need me, He chose me—and shows me it every single day.

It’s amazing that the God of the universe chose us to be His children, and every day He chooses to use us to share His love and build His Kingdom. 

This summer, the Ambassador program will send high school students on 2-4 week mission trips to the Caribbean, South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and even a road trip inside the U.S! Is God calling you to join a team? CLICK HERE to find out how you can GO!