A Kernel of Wheat

A Kernel of Wheat

A little less than a year ago, I planted a seed, figuratively speaking. I surrendered my dream and said yes to go wherever God sent me, do whatever He commanded me, and say whatever He told me whatever it might take. Now, a year later, I'm still in the same city, living in the same place, serving the same ministry. Why? Well, let me give you some background...

I spent most of my childhood in the Middle East where my family was living as missionaries. When we moved to Tennessee for my Dad to get another degree, I was just turning 14 and grappling with the many changes that came with my age and and adjusting to a new culture and home. I enjoyed being in the States, but my heart still longed to return to Oman, the country we had lived in last. Finally, I got a chance to go back to Oman for about ten months after graduating high school in 2014 and teach a preschool co-op for missionary kids. I thought I loved little children until I was with kids almost 24/7 either teaching or babysitting. I began to question what I was even doing over there and what I really had a heart for. My one highlight was going to a weekly worship night at a couple's house - Lucas and Rachel Skrobot. They talked about being a part of this thing called the Burn and I didn't really understand what it was but I loved going there and decided that I wanted more of what they were stewarding in my life. I knew that I wanted to come back to the Middle East but if I didn't have some kind of roots I would shrivel up and blow away in no time. They told me about their good friends, Tannon and Cristina, in Harrisburg who hosted a three month school in the fall called School of the Heart and I decided to go there after I got back to the States. 

In addition to learning a lot about loving myself, loving God, and loving others during the school in 2015, I found out a lot more about the Burn 24/7 and discovered that it gave language to a lot of what I had been dreaming of seeing in the Middle East. I, also, realized there was a lot more to learn. When Tannon and Cristina invited my whole class to stay for another year as interns, I decided to stay. I started Field Training, an online course for those who are considering or currently are Burn directors. During 2016, things began to be shaken, as the Mansion transitioned from a Global Burn headquarters to "simply" a regional Burn and I found myself in the middle of it all trying to figure out where I fit in. I dreamed of starting a Burn in Oman, yet I had no idea where to begin. Then, at the beginning of 2017, God opened the door for me to be assistant Burn Director here in Harrisburg. Part of me didn't really want to stay in Harrisburg but I knew this would be the perfect place to gain experience and put down roots if I really did want to start a Burn overseas. 

Now, we get to the part of the story where I planted a seed, so to speak. In February, last year, I had committed to another year at the Mansion but I kept getting prophetic words like "GO", "God is giving you a green light," and "The light is green." I couldn't deny that God was speaking to me, yet I didn't have peace about breaking my commitment to stay for the year. So, in frustration, I told God - "I don't understand why you're telling me to "go" when it's clear this is where You have placed me for this season, but whatever it takes, whatever is required of me - even if "go" for me is staying here for the next 10 years - I say YES!!" For the rest of 2017, I faithfully served and stewarded six-hour Burns every month and regularly prayed for the Middle East, but I still didn't understand what I had said "yes" to. All I knew is that I had surrendered my dream of going to the Middle East for the time being and I sincerely hoped God knew what He was doing. My one solace was this verse from John 12:24 - "Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." I knew deep down that somehow in the very act of surrender, my dream was multiplied and invested with divine power. I began dreaming about the Burn in Harrisburg and doing everything I knew to connect and spread the word, but no matter what I tried no one really showed up except for a handful of people. 

I started January 2018 disappointed with God and discouraged with myself in regards to the Burn. As I spent some time fasting and praying, God reminded me of all the promises He had given me over the past year and something began to shift in my heart. I knew that if I wanted to see God come through, I had to give Him a chance to prove Himself to me. So, I did the normal drill for administrating the Burn every month: sending out emails, texts, posting on social media, etc., but this time I stepped out in faith and extended the hours from 6 to 9 hours. Rather than feeling stretched it was one of the easiest months ever to fill all the worship slots and I actually had to turn worship leaders away because all the slots were full. Everything fell into place and on the day of the Burn, we had more people show up than ever before during the last year when I was helping lead and there was a tangible sense of God's presence and love throughout the Burn where other times we often experienced heaviness and push back. On the same day as the Burn, Sean Feucht told about the incredible trip he had been on to the 2nd most closed nation in the world located in the Middle East. When I talked to my parents (who live in that country) the next day, they said nothing like that had ever happened before where a well-known Christian had been allowed into their nation to lead worship and meet with believers. Suddenly, I realized that this miracle happening across the world was in a small way a direct result of my prayers and the seed I had sown in being here. Once again, God had proven Himself faithful and I know that it is only the beginning

Your seed is only the beginning of the dreams on your heart. What have you been wrestling to believe? What seed are you holding in your hand that needs to be put in the ground so it can die and bear fruit? What dream seems impossible in your life right now? Have you completely surrendered it to God? The story of Gideon keeps going through my head. As Gideon stood in the winepress threshing wheat and trying to hide, the angel of the Lord showed up to him and said, "The Lord is with you mighty warrior!" Gideon didn't believe the angel at first and began to complain about his situation but the angel replied, "GO in the strength you have... Am I not sending you?" Pastor Charles Stock spoke on this passage last Sunday and pointed out that his first act wasn't going out to find an army. FIRST - he took what he HAD and made an offering to the Lord. It wasn't until after that that God gave him a game plan for where and how to "GO". Have you taken your offering before the Lord? Have you planted your seed and let it die? It is only in the place of complete surrender and letting go of yourself, that God can take the dream on your heart and breath life into it.



1 Comments:
  • SharonSpirk's avatar
    SharonSpirk
    March 1, 2018 at 8:37am | Permalink

    Thank you Joanna for this powerful testimony. It encourages my heart that the Burn grows brighter in the greater Harrisburg area! My heart is to see churches all over the region join the Burn one again and see an open heaven, like never before, over our region! I’m excited, too, for what he’s doing in the Middle East. Looking forward to meeting you!


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