Susan Shinn column: Send me, Lord

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 25, 2015

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Isaiah 6:8

 

It’s not often that the Lord speaks directly to me. But He did the morning of Sept. 25, on the sidewalk in front of my church.

At the time, I was on the phone with Pastor Beth Kearney. Earlier in the week, St. John’s Lutheran had hosted a cooking demonstration by Palestinian chefs. It was a great success, and during our conversation, I mentioned to Beth how much I’d love to visit the Holy Land some day.

“You should consider going on the trip with the bishop,” she said, “because Adrienne needs a roommate.”

That’s when I very clearly heard the Lord say, “You are going on this trip.”

“That’s all well and good,” I told the Lord, “but you need to get me there.”

Being a single mom, full-time freelance writer and part-time church worker, I do not have a line item in my monthly budget for overseas travel. However, I was certainly willing to go if that indeed was where the Lord was sending me.

It seems He was.

“I’ll give you the money I was going to give Adrienne for having to pay extra for a single room, and I’ll talk with Leonard to see what he can do,” Beth said.

This was exciting for me. Adrienne and I had worked together at St. John’s during the year she’d taken off from seminary, and we’d become good friends. Her father had died in the spring, and I really wanted to spend some time with her.

Later that day, Beth emailed me, having secured one-third of the funds I’d need. That night, I went to Charlotte to see a performance by Palestinian musicians, other members of the group that was visiting the States as part of Room for Hope, a Palestinian arts celebration.

I happened to meet Beth Nelson Chase and Jennifer Grandberry, who work for Bright Stars of Bethlehem, an organization that raises funds for social programs at Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem. I mentioned to them that an opportunity to travel to the Holy Land had arisen — would they be interested in my doing some work for them while I was there?

Their eyes lit up.

“We’ll get back to you,” they said. By the end of the evening, they’d committed another substantial part of the expenses.

A dear friend from church helped me work out the rest of the fees, and I applied for a passport.

Then I paid a visit to my next-door neighbors — my parents. I’d already decided I wouldn’t go if they didn’t want me to. At the time, things were fairly stable in the Middle East, so I felt good about my chances.

“I’ve got a freelance job I want to talk to you about,” I told them one afternoon. “I’m going to be doing some work for Pastor Mitri Raheb.”

My father looked at me, his eyes narrowing.

“Are you going to Bethlehem?” he asked.

I took a deep breath.

“Yes,” I said. “Yes I am.”

I peeked at Mother out of the corner of my eye. Dead silence.

“This is too big of an opportunity for you to pass up,” she said.

Whew!

It looked as if the Lord had told me to go — and I was going.

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.

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