It can be unsettling when God changes our plans. When we trust him in the midst of those changes, he can do a beautiful work in our lives.
5 Minute Read
By Alicia Bennett
“Trust me” is how many stories of God’s faithfulness start.
In the middle of my high school years, these were the words my mom heard when she wrestled with God about moving her whole family across the globe to China to follow my dad’s business job. “This will have a huge impact on Alicia” she heard him say. So, she trusted, pulled my brother and me out of school halfway through my freshmen year and moved us to a foreign country.
Honestly, those first 6 months in China remain a complete blur to this day. I think that’s what culture shock does to you. But as I settled into a routine, found friends, and a “new normal,” China became an adventure! A wonderful adventure that stopped much too soon.
Having new international connections through friends and a little travel around the globe had quickly become an itch that I wanted to keep scratching. So, despite having to return to the United States after my sophomore year, I was bound and determined to leave again as soon as possible.
When God Changes Our Plans
God had a different plan. After graduating high school, I attended college with the intent of majoring in Mandarin and International Business. I was still intent to live overseas and continue my life of adventure as soon as I could.
But my freshman year of college was a whirlwind of pain, heartache, and eventually, despair. After attempting suicide the summer after that year, God caught me. He caught me and gave me hope in the darkest days when I felt so completely alone.
He showed me that he had never left me and that if I would just return to him, my soul would be full and my life given meaning beyond what I could selfishly want for myself. Ironically enough, this revelation occurred in China, where I was working as a camp counselor and assistant that summer.
So, when I returned to college for my sophomore year, I had a new vision that combined my newfound identity in Christ and my love for Asia: mission. I changed my degree to Mandarin and International Studies.
God Uses Our Passions and Our Skills
The following summer, I studied abroad and met a friend who also had the same heart and passion. God would continue to use her in my life for many years to come. The summer after that, I went on my first short-term mission trip to East Asia. It was on that trip I clearly heard from God that while he wasn’t closing the door on long-term service, for now, he wanted me to stay and send and encourage others. I didn’t know what that meant at the time but he eventually brought me to a job as a mobilizer with OMF International after college.
Those six and a half years with OMF International were years of much spiritual maturing and deepening. I also got married during that time and while my husband and I were given the opportunity to serve overseas on a short-term trip together, God closed that door.
Fully Surrender When God Changes Our Plans
My husband and I continued to move forward towards someday serving overseas long-term. We attended the Urbana 2006 Conference together and we took Perspectives on the World Christian Movement together.
Then, in 2009, we welcomed our first son into the world and I began to step away from my formal role with OMF (U.S.) International. At first, I transitioned to part-time, but then in 2012, months before the birth of our second son, God clearly said “Good job, but you are done.” It was very hard for me to leave.
It was around that same time that we discovered that our first son had a severe peanut allergy and long-term service in Asia was definitely not in the cards for us anytime soon. I was heart-broken. And lost.
The Start of a New Ministry
For the next year and a half, I was spiritually crushed and even angry at God. I pouted around and busied myself with my motherhood tasks.
My heart was still out there on the mission field, serving the missionaries and wanting to simply be a part of it in some way. Then a year and a half after leaving mission mobilization ministry, I was presented a challenge: nobody had been teaching the mission lessons at Vacation Bible School at my church in years.
Well, I couldn’t let that happen!
Not only that, but I had some ideas to improve it. For example, I dressed up all week in an Indian sari and taught the kids about the country of India in tangible examples and interactive learning. I laughed when, for several months after VBS, kids would come up to me and ask if I was really from India.
Shortly afterwards, I was approached to bring this type of mission emphasis before the elementary children at my church on a monthly basis.
So, between that and the yearly Vacation Bible School mission lessons, I used a lot of what I had learned professionally and what I was learning as a mom, to write, create, and teach dozens of mission lessons for the next 6 years.
It is still my desire to expand those lessons into middle school and high school curriculum and expand the ministry beyond the walls of my church, but I haven’t had a clear opportunity yet.
So, @mobilizermom was born as a practical way to begin to inspire and inform parents and pastors with God at work in our world.
Though my life and ministry is not what I ever thought it would be, I look back and see when God changes our plans it is simply him working through our pain, our challenges, our selfishness. He taught me so much in my time in professional ministry and humbled me in motherhood.
He pushed me outside my comfort zone even when I wasn’t looking for opportunities.
Alicia grew up in a family that moved and traveled a lot. In college, God grabbed her heart and immediately missions was a part of her story. After college, she married her college sweet-heart, Jeffrey, and they moved to Colorado for her to start work with an international mission agency.
Six years and two kids later, God called her to stay home with their two boys. For many years, she’s written and taught dozens of mission lessons for children. Today, she continues to teach at her local church but is also mobilizing parents and pastors to do the same in their local churches through Instagram @mobilizermom