I am so excited to introduce The Grace Exchange’s first guest, and my dear friend, Allison Edwards! Allison is a Paris-native gal who just completed The World Race – 11 months of international mission work with AIM (Adventures In Missions). She is a remarkable woman of God, and I’m very eager to share her and her love for the Lord with you.
In this post, you will find a casual interview that I conducted with Allison via email. Every time I’m with this sister – whether it’s a chat online or in person – my spirit is challenged, encouraged, and refreshed.
Enjoy our little gab session! Enjoy Allison! Enjoy the goodness of the Lord!
EGM: Hi, Allison! I’m so excited about this blog, and I can’t thank you enough for sharing a part of your story. My earnest prayer is that God will use these brief posts of The Grace Exchange to encourage women/students/anyone to pause a bit and turn their (our) thoughts and hearts toward the Father … and then perhaps reflect upon Him throughout the day and walk in His ways. Mind if we get started?
EGM: Allison, first and foremost, please tell us your “grace story.” How did you come to Christ in saving faith?
AE: I grew up going to church but I knew absolutely nothing of the bible. As I got to high school I started attending church less often and when I got to college I stopped attending all together. I lived life in the fast lane. I was involved in drinking, drugs and heavy partying for 11 years. I ran from the Lord instead of to Him. In December 2012 my 30th birthday was drawing near. I knew that I didn’t want to continue to live the next 30 years like I had the previous years, but I also knew that I couldn’t change on my own. I needed a higher power. I cried out to God and asked Him to please help me change. I told Him that night that I would surrender my all to Him. I picked up the bible for the first time in maybe 15 years and started reading the book of Romans. I realized then that I was a sinner and needed God’s saving grace. That night I had my first conversation with the Lord. He spoke so clearly to me and I remember feeling at total peace…. it wasn’t like anything I had ever felt before. Within one month I had stopped doing all the activities I did before. Things that used to matter didn’t matter anymore. The Lord gave me new desires and new passions. God came into my life in a powerful way and He hasn’t stopped moving since that night in December 2012.
EGM: How did you hear about the World Race?
AE: I heard about the World Race while I was on my first mission trip to Kenya and Uganda in 2013. Some girls that I was traveling with had friends who were on the World Race at the time.
EGM: At what point did you begin to believe that God was calling you to enter this “race?”
AE: I knew the moment I returned to America in June 2013 from Kenya and Uganda that the Lord was calling me into something greater. I immediately started praying about the World Race and God spoke so clearly to me in October of that same year and told me to Go and that He would be with me till the very end. The following morning I woke up and sent in my application to Adventures in Missions (AIM).
EGM: When did you leave America? And when did you return?
AE: I departed on July 3, 2014 and returned May 23, 2015.
EGM: Can you list for us the months and the countries you went to each month?
July 2014: Dominican Republic
August 2014: Haiti
September 2014: Honduras
October 2014: Guatemala
November 2014: Zambia
December 2014: Malawi
January 2015: Mozambique
February 2015: Philippines
March 2015: Thailand
April 2015: Laos
May 2015: Cambodia
EGM: What was your team like? Did you have the same team the entire 11 months?
AE: My fist team was a coed team of 6 and we were together the first 4 months. I was raised up as a team leader at the end of month 4 and new teams were created so I led an all female team of 6 for months 5-9. We had team changes one final time at the end of month 9 and I was on a coed team of 6 for the final 2 months.
EGM: What were some of your specific mission tasks during the trip?
AE: Every month looked different. I did manual labor for 3 months. My team and I built a huge pastorial training center in Haiti that hosts 200+ pastors. We also laid the foundation to a fire station in Honduras, and worked on a pig & fish farm in Laos. Almost every month my team and I did some type of evangelism (door-to-door, street ministry, village ministry, preaching, teaching). I worked in an orphanage in Zambia, lived and ministered at a safe home in Honduras for teenage girls who had been pregnant by rape or incest and also domestic violence victims, and partnered with an anti sex trafficking organization in Chaing Mai, Thailand in which we ministered to women who had been rescued from the trafficking industry. We also did bar ministry at night where we went out to the red light district of Chaing Mai and built relationships with the women who work there and shared Jesus’ love with them.
EGM: What was your favorite? Or what type of ministry did you find most rewarding?
AE: Working with victims of human trafficking was my favorite. The Lord really gave me a heart for these women.
EGM: What aspect of the trip did you find to be the most challenging or difficult for you?
AE: The holidays, being away from my family, was by far the most difficult.
EGM: I’m sure you encountered several miraculous workings of the Lord. Could you share with us maybe one such experience? Something that happened that you will never forget?
AE: My team and I were doing village ministry in Haiti one afternoon and we stopped at this elderly woman’s house who told us she needed prayer for her left arm. She was in extreme pain and had been to the doctor but there was nothing he could do for her. My friend Megan and I laid hands on her arm and prayed for physical healing. As we are praying, the muscles & nerves in her arm begin to move and we continue praying boldly in the name of Jesus for her pain to be gone. Within 10 minutes the pain was completely gone and God healed that sweet lady.
EGM: How has it been returning to America?
AE: Being back in America has been the biggest culture shock of all. It has been hard. This trip forever changed my life and I will never be the same, however, I am at total peace about being back home. The mission field is in front of us every day of our lives so I’m applying everything the Lord taught me overseas this past year to my everyday life back here in America. The ministry and placement look different but God is still using me in ways He did overseas.
EGM: Would you offer to us a specific Scripture that you relied upon, or one that became particularly special to you during your trip?
AE: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.” Isaiah 61:1
EGM: In your opinion, what type of person is well-suited for a World Race mission trip?
AE: Anyone who is ready to step completely out of his or her comfort zone and to take God out of the box many of us like to put Him in. Anyone who is ready to surrender everything to the Lord and trust in Him fully, and ready to experience the Lord in ways they never have before.
EGM: In a few words, how has this 11-month journey impacted your life? Yes, I know that is a loaded one!
AE: For me I feel I was created to go into the unknown. That’s easy for me for some reason. I said yes to the Lord in 2014 and in turn He gave me the greatest and hardest year of my life. He showed me Himself in new ways and let me experience things that have forever changed the way I love, serve, and view Him and people here on earth.
EGM: Sister, I love you. I’m so proud of you for being obedient and surrendered to the Father. I know He gets all the glory – but a pat on the back for you for your willingness to say “YES” to all He asked. Love you tons! THANK YOU! To God be all the glory!
For more information about Adventure in Missions, visit www.theworldrace.org.