I was not happy, folks, NOT HAPPY! Why was I unhappy? Because my father had just told me that I should go on a “Journey to the Heart”. Those words did NOT thrill me, even a little bit! I told him so in terms and tones of voice that no young person should use with their parents. I made it VERY clear that, though I knew I was struggling, another stupid ATI conference was NOT going to fix anything. He just said, “Laura, I really think you need to do this. From what I’ve seen of it, I think it would be just the thing for you.”
Finally, I gave in. I really was desperate for a change. For two or three years I’d been pretty miserable, and unlike other people, when I’m not happy, EVERYONE knows it. (Well, everyone in my family at least.) I had been causing conflict, frustration, anger , and discord within my family for a long time, and my father just wasn’t sure what else he could do to help me out of my downward spiral. That’s when he heard about the Journey. He went to the three day dad’s conference at the Indianapolis Training Center. There Mr. Gothard made all the men spend a whole day just delighting in the Lord, to give them a taste of what Journey to the Heart was like. Well, it worked! My dad came home excited that maybe God had finally shown him something that would put me back on track with Jesus.
Well, long story short, I went. October 2007, ten days that changed my life in more ways than one.
I won’t go into what happened, or what I learned, or how God showed Himself to me; all I’m going to say is: “I got it.” If it’s happened to you, then you’ll know what I mean. If it hasn’t happened to you, start talking to God, and then beg Him to do it for you too. After that week and a half , I came home so excited, so awed by the love of God towards me, and I just wanted everyone else to “get it” too.
But I didn’t know what to do. In my interview with Mr. Gothard, he had told me to start a discipleship group with girls from my church, and then bring them back with me to a Journey. But a discipleship group wasn’t possible with where we lived and how our church was set up. “Besides,” I was thinking to myself “I have nothing to teach these girls! Who am I to disciple them?” So that was out! But what COULD I do?
I desperately wanted to do something. Then the thought hit me, “Well if Journey could bless me so much, why couldn’t it bless those in my church?” But how was I going to convince them to go? It was expensive; it was a whole ten days. Why should they waste the time and money? I had already told a lot of people from my church, and they were all excited for me, but very few ever thought of it for themselves.
Now I was a little discouraged; I had to find a way to make everyone,or even just a few people understand the amazing chance that Journey offered! Well , I was always pretty good at talking my way in and out of anything so I thought that maybe I could do it that way. But it just didn’t seem like the way to go. But then it came. I don’t really know when or how, but I don’t really care. It was just this: If God wants them to go, couldn’t HE convince them? Wow, well, yeah, I guess He could. So where did that put me? What was my job? “Ask Him.” What? “Just ask Him! Let Him know your burden for these other people, and ask Him to work it all out if He desires them to come.” Well, it wasn’t as glorious as I was hoping, but at that point it was the only thing I could think of,and so that’s what I did.
I wrote out a list of all the girls and guys I wished could go on a Journey and I prayed through it just about every day. I would even fast for them (when God helped me have enough self-control to do it).
And then, little by little, I saw people become more interested. God was working. I would talk with the parents, and the kids, then keep praying. For weeks and months this went on. There was someone who was willing to pay for a lot of the cost which was a miracle in itself. And so, one by one, girls started deciding to go. It wasn’t a landslide, it wasn’t scores of girls. In fact , it was only five (plus my two sisters. :). But, if God hadn’t been asked about them going, who knows if they would have?
Well, I was blessed enough to go with those girls on that Journey and to be on the same team. It was a great week; God was so good. What were the results in the individual lives? Did it make a HUGE difference? Did they change forever? …… I don’t know, you’d have to ask them. But the results weren’t up to me, they were up to God and each individual. Intercession on their behalf was the job God had given me, and I didn’t do it very well, but God still did His part.
Later that year, a few of the young men from our church also went. One of them is the son of the man who died in the story that’s posted in this January 2011 Newsletter. I’m pretty sure God used the Journey in his life.
So what does all this mean? Well, I’ve had this on my heart for a long time, but I haven’t really done anything with it, but maybe now is the time.
What would happen if we all prayed? What would the outcome be if we singled out individuals who need to meet with God, and just asked Him to bring them on the Journey? Why Journey? Because it’s the answer to everyone’s problems? No! Because Jesus is, and sometimes God can use the Journey to help people get to know Him. I’m not a prayer warrior. I’m not a super Christian, I’m not even a good Christian, but God didn’t seem to mind. He knew I just wanted more people to get to know Him so He listened, and He answered.
So what can I do? What can YOU do?
Here is my challenge, to you all, and to myself. Let’s make a list of people, I don’t care how many or how few, and as this new year starts, let’s start praying. It may take weeks, it may take months, it may seem like nothing is even happening, but you never know what God might do through the prayers of people as insignificant as we are.
I’m going to try. I hope you will too.
~ Laura Oliverio