An International Affair

“I’ve learned a few things in my 30 years with the Lord, one that comes to mind lately, “When He flings a door open, you better be ready to go.” So when out of the blue, God opened a door for us to take the work we do at Care Net & Protect the Heart into the international world, it was a quick ‘Yes’ before I really even could form the words! Here’s how it played out a few months back:

Last month, God shifted my heart on something. Around the same time I was dealing with a huge event on the horizon (Silver Ring Thing) and my duty to a book team I was working on. Pulling Back the Shades was a book written in response to the 50 Shades phenomenon. Check it out, it’s great! So to say I had a lot already on my plate was an understatement. I felt myself giving more time than necessary to this ‘something’ (totally a healthy thing but not where my focus needed to be).

On January 18th, I found myself sitting under a message at church that really moved my heart on a subject. It gave me a new and increased perspective. The week went on and on January 27th, I felt I really needed to take this ‘something’ to the Lord. So I did, in a way I, to be totally honest and transparent, don’t normally do. My conversations with God are a lot more on the fly. This time however I took my son to school, came home, grabbed my devotional and headed downstairs to pray…out loud…to God. I got real. I got personal. I got to the point. You know those moments when we stop messing around with ambiguity and get down to brass tacks?! Well, I got up feeling like I really left what I needed to at the foot of the Cross with Him capably taking care of it. This was at 7:30. Went to work, went on with the day. At 10:30 I was sent a message that I got when I finished teaching that set my world on tilt. But first a tiny backstory…

About 5 years ago, I was given a word through a prayer ministry that I would face some really dark times ahead and I would need the strength of how God had made me to get through it. From 2011-2013 I went through a potentially life threatening health scare. Praise God I’m on the other side of that now!! They also shared in praying over me that I was going to have an “international” reach to what God had called me to. That it would expand what I was doing, expand my leadership, and expand my reach. I never really shared this because I never (like never ever) wanted to seem self-promoting. The ministry that we are privileged to work in here at Care Net & Protect the Heart is one of the greatest honors one could get in this life. So I kept this VERY close to my chest…just knowing God would in His time bring it to pass but honestly not really sure when or if it had changed. Roll forward…

This message came after my post about being way too excited about speaking about STDs (yes that’s my life, lol). This pastor friend was sitting in his mission and the Lord quickened to him that they needed to bring something like we do at Protect the Heart to that area. Would I ever consider going “international”? So as I’m reading this that prayer from years ago came immediately back and I began to freak out (my poor intern…sweet girl) and the message I heard in a service I wasn’t even supposed to be in (our pastor preached on having a heart for missions should be at the core of every Christian. Up until then I really was a more “I’ll pray, send…not really the ‘going’ type). God has been doing things I can’t even comprehend in the past months but this was like the icing on the cake of ‘What is THIS Lord?!’

It also made me keenly aware that I truly hadn’t really believed this would happen (cue “oh yea of little faith” comment). When I became a mom, I felt like ‘if’ God helped me be a good mom that’d be enough of a good thing from God. It’s the least I could ask after experiencing a crisis pregnancy myself. When God, in spite of me, placed me at Care Net, I felt like if God just uses me here I’ll be happy and grateful. It’d be enough since I never thought I’d be in ministry. God’s plans, WILL NOT be stopped. He will accomplish what He wills.

Things have been prayed over and will continue to be brought before the Lord in prayer as the days go forward. So, in June, unless the Lord really directs another way…I’ll be going to Haiti. Protect the Heart will be going INTERNATIONAL for 10 days to begin laying the ground work to introduce the HEART of God for them in the area of purity, modesty, and whatever else the Lord opens the doors to in those areas!

We covet your prayers and encouragement as God seems to have begun to enlarge our territory!

Willow Sanders
Director of Student Services