As I sit here by the morning light accented by the glow of the Christmas tree and the dancing flicker of a peppermint scented candle, I reflect on 2020. As the new year began, there was so much anticipation about 2020 and all that it would bring. The hope of clarity as we enjoyed the play on words for perfect vision. This will be the year we will see 20/20. I even led a small group Bible study by Christine Caine of the same name.
I have worn glasses since I was in elementary school and with each passing year my vision seems to get worse and worse. I cannot see my alarm clock from bed without my glasses. I get so anxious with every optometrist visit and downright terrified at the thought of the DMV vision tests. Seeing is something that I don’t take for granted so with 2020 and the hope of a year focused on vision was something I could really get excited about!
28:19 Ministries was newly established and we were so excited about all that 2020 would bring in terms of our first ever mission trip as a ministry. We had 24 people who had prayed and said yes to The 2020 Mission Experience to Belize. The God stories of prayers answered and the way that the obstacle of finances was being taken care of was amazing and such a blessing. Fundraising was well underway and I was giddy with excitement as I watched people catch the vision for missions and for sharing Jesus’ love!
In February, we had several fundraising events and we were off to a great start. God was showing up big time and the thrill of his affirmation motivated us all the more. On March 11 we had another fundraising event at Buffalo Wild Wings and as we gathered we did some introductions of new team members and things were really clicking. Then, my phone rang. From that moment on, nothing was the same.
Taylor Brickey has been on our Belize team for four years and has become like family to me. In 2019, after years of begging and pleading, she finally convinced her mom, Jennifer, to go to Belize. She reluctantly agreed to go and God met her there in a big way! As she puts it, God wrecked her. Wrecked her in the way that sometimes things just have to be broken down and built back up, piece by piece so that they function properly and in order. Their passion was contagious. So contagious that Taylor’s little brother, Carson, was signed up for our 2020 team. He was excited to share the love of Jesus alongside his mom and sister!
It was Jennifer on the phone that night at Buffalo Wild Wings. I could not understand a word of what she was saying, but I scooted away from the crowd and listened intently to determine what was going on. Frantically, Jennifer got out “Carson was hit by a car and is on the way to VCU. I don’t know anything else.” I said “I’m on my way”. My daughter, Taylor and I got there as fast as we could. For nine long days, we visited, we prayed, we worshiped, we hoped. On March 20, Carson Brickey went to be with Jesus.
Clarity, the 20/20 vision for 2020 turned to darkness.
The same nine days that 14-year-old Carson fought to live, the rest of the world came unraveled. Schools would meet for the last time on March 13. Church would meet for the last time on March 15. Fear set in. Everything stopped. The unknown was all that was known.
Clarity. The 20/20 vision for 2020 turned to confusion.
Trying to wrap your head around a global pandemic. Day by day it became more apparent that we could plan for nothing. As days turned into months, we walked out grief and loss with our precious friends whose world stopped on March 11 along with the rest of the world whose lives had stopped for very different reasons. As a ministry, we had a choice to make. We could stop like the rest of the world or we could seek God’s direction for our next step. The entire world was paralyzed by the pandemic including our sweet Belize.
Clarity. The 20/20 vision for 2020 turned to hope.
As I journeyed with the Brickey’s through the uncharted territory of losing a son and brother, they never lost hope. Their faith never wavered. Taylor and Jennifer were lights in the darkness for so many. Remember how God had just wrecked Jennifer and rebuilt her piece by piece? Her foundation was so strong that she was able to point so many others to Jesus in her darkest days.
The song “The Blessing” by Elevation Worship was written just before the pandemic started and has been an anthem for me through this year.
The Lord bless you
And keep you
Make His face shine upon you
And be gracious to you
The Lord turn His face toward you
And give you peace
May His presence go before you
And behind you, and beside you
All around you, and within you
He is with you, He is with you
God had certainly gone before Jennifer and prepared her sturdy foundation for what was to come. How had God prepared our ministry to minister during a time when we all felt stuck?
God brought together an amazing team of people for our 2020 Mission experience to Belize and blessed our fundraising efforts. He continued to go before us when the world shifted before our eyes.The team members used their trip deposits to “GO” even when we couldn’t. With the help of our precious Annamay in the village, we have been able to provide much needed groceries and toiletries to the village roughly twice a month since June.
We were also able to write and develop a virtual Bible School for the children in the village. This was a great way to continue discipleship and teaching even though we couldn’t be there physically.
In July, God called us to “GO” to serve for a four day mission experience at World Help. What an incredible time of worship, serving, and fellowship. We had a blast! God had gone before us, he was all around us and within us! What we did at World Help had never been done before and they were thrilled with what we were able to accomplish. You can read more about that experience here.
In August, Heights Church partnered with 28:19 Ministries and hosted our very first 28:19 Ministries yard sale. It was incredible! God had led us to set a goal of raising $6,000 to pay the school fees for every child at St. Matthews School in the village in Belize. People gave so willingly and so sacrificially to help us meet this goal. St. Matthews had been gearing up for a great school year to learn just a few weeks later that they would not be opening and that they would do remote learning. We were able to provide school supplies for each St. Matthews student in the village which was a blessing since they would be learning from home. The financial help in the form of school fees and supplies was evidence that God had gone before them to provide for needs that they had not anticipated. This helped meet needs for each family at St. Matthews during really tough economic times. Do you see how one yes leads to so many blessings?
Clarity. The 20/20 vision for 2020 reveals that obedience is the key to unlocking blessings.
Your support of 28:19 Ministries has been such a blessing and God has used your obedience to unlock blessings for others.
As 2020 draws to a close, I do believe that God has given us 2020 vision. Despite the cloudy view of tomorrow throughout 2020. Despite the utter darkness of loss and the unknown. Despite the fact that everything as we have known it is upside down. God has taught me that clarity is revealed by trusting. My vision is so poor but what I can see clearly without glasses is what is right in front of me. Perhaps that is what God has taught us this year, that instead of trying to see down the road and into the future, that we need to trust Him for what is next and then take steps of obedience one step at a time. Knowing that God is before us, beside us, behind us, and all around us and he sees all, gives me comfort and hope. It settles me into a glorious peace knowing that he can see around every corner and prepares the way. 2 Corinthians 5:7 tells us “for we walk by faith, not by sight.”
Clarity. The 20/20 vision for 2020 is trusting God.
Friend, I pray that as you reflect on 2020 and all that God has taught you, you will see Him in the hard times, in the good times, in the loss and in the abundance. He is with you.
Matthew 28:19 — Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Eager for all that God will do in 2021,
Founder and President, 28:19 Ministries
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