While in the children’s program at my home church, I remember a missionary from Africa coming to visit and talk with us about what it meant to be a missionary.
I can’t tell you what he said or even what country he was in, but I do remember thinking, “Wow, God. That is really cool people serve you that way! I know I’ll never be able to do that, but I will do what I can from here!”
I had a VERY small comfort zone and had no desire to stretch it.
God says, "Peru!"
But when I was fourteen years old, I had a dream in which God vividly called me to the mission field in Peru. As an extremely introverted, people-phobic, content-to-stay-in-California teenager, I remember feeling as though I should have been terrified or should have been adamantly rejecting the idea.
Yet all I felt was an utter peace and certainty…and excitement.
I was going to Peru. Peru.
I had no connections with the South American country; at the time, I couldn’t have even told you if Peru was in Central or South America. But God’s voice is powerful, and when He calls, you cannot help but obey.
But He did not leave me to flounder on my own. From that moment, God took me in His hands and began to mold and shape me into a warrior for His kingdom.
Sometimes it was painful. Sometimes it took far longer than I would have liked. Sometimes I discovered aspects about myself I would have liked to stay hidden.
But every time, God drew me closer to Him, and every time, I ended up that much closer to the world of missions, whether I immediately realized it or not.
God Changes My Plans and I Planted an English School in Peru
It wasn’t until the Fall of 2013 that I finally made it to Peru to serve as a short-term missionary for four months. I arrived thinking I was to merely teach a few English classes.
Turned out, God had something different in mind.
I ended up ‘planting’ an English school in Arequipa, a city in Southern Peru, and leading a team of 4 to 6 volunteers in teaching four English classes a week. Rather than doing the actual teaching, my role ended up being more in the background. My volunteers interacted most with the students while I handled administrative responsibilities and lesson planning.
What an example of God’s plans in our lives! I had an expectation based on my limited knowledge. Yet God had something so very different planned for my time there.
While in Peru, I learned to let go of control, to let my ‘plans’ become fluid. For you never knew what opportunities the day would bring.
I won’t lie. At first, it was terrifying. I am an extreme planner, Type A, give me a schedule type person. Anyone relate? Lists, schedules, elaborate outlines—all make me feel safe. Yet I could never have imagined the joy that would fill me from releasing my grip, little by little, on the plans I had for my life.
Back in the states, honestly, I have struggled to let go of that same control. Yet why should it be any different? God is still in control. I am still His daughter. And His plans are still perfect.
It was letting go of that control once more and trusting in God’s perfect plan that led me to ITMI. (The expanded version of that is on my blog.)
Danielle with her predecessor at ITMI, Debbie Henry.
Though worldly voices told me this job would limit me in my career, or stunt me financially, or that I should have something ‘better’ with a BA, I have NO doubt in my mind that I am exactly where the Lord wants me to be.
I am serving in the missions world! What greater place could I be in? I get to work in an organization that shares my passions and beliefs!
I pray every day that I will continue to be able to let go and trust that my Father will continue to provide for my needs in every aspect of my life.
"For we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Danielle Cholly is a Masters of Divinity in Leadership Developement student at Phoenix Seminary pursuing a life on the mission field. She first felt called to serve in missions when she was 14 years old. Since then, God has used countless trials and blessings to keep her heart and mind focused on the goal of serving Him in His global agenda. She worked towards this by studying Intercultural Studies at California Baptist University, participating in short term trips to Mexico, Ecuador, India, and Peru.