This is a story of learning God’s heart, bit by bit, like petals unfolding from the center. Since high school, God has taken me on journeys to make His heart my heart. The more I learn, the clearer it becomes — God’s desire is really very simple, though we have quite the way of complicating it. Love God and love others. That’s it. That’s the gospel, that’s what we’re called to do.
My story begins like many others in this circle — I graduated from high school and joined YES. My team was in Southeast Asia from 2009–2010.
Through all the ups and downs, the highs and lows of my time in Southeast Asia, I learned many things, one of them being to know God’s peace. I mean really know God’s peace. Philippians 4:4–7 captures and constantly reminds me of that lesson:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Being in Southeast Asia, I felt closer to God than I ever had in my life (funny how that happened in the region with one of the largest Muslim populations in the world). I came back from that experience passionate about God and serving Him.
In Southeast Asia, I was taught Psalm 67 as the prayer of the true Israelite (and, as I would say, of the true Christ follower).
“May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine on us —
so that your ways may be known on earth,
your salvation among all nations” (Psalm 67:1–2).
I learned from this that it is not enough to know God’s love for myself. Because I know God’s love, I have a duty — a responsibility — as an ambassador of Christ to share Him and His love all around me.
I joined the staff at Harrisburg Discipleship Center (HDC) from August 2010 to December 2011. I had dreams of returning to Southeast Asia to help lead the YES program there. I had left part of myself there, and I desired to return to it. I had an invitation from some of the people there to come and join them in their work. I even planned a weeklong visit to encourage the YES team there and discern if returning to Southeast Asia was what God wanted for me.
After visiting, a feeling of much more closure when I left the second time, and much seeking, I realized that God had different plans for me. I vividly remember the night at HDC when God made it clear to me that I was not to return to Southeast Asia. That was a very hard lesson to learn; I didn’t understand why God would turn down a willing worker. “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (Matthew 9:37). I was a worker, and I wanted to GO!
In the following months, God reshaped my dreams. I didn’t have to go anywhere to love God and love others. I began to see the hurt and brokenness all around me, even in little Lancaster County. God changed my life in two enormous ways as I ended my time on staff at HDC.
First, He gave me Tim, who was on also on staff at HDC. I was not looking for a relationship, but this guy was persistent. As I sought God on this matter, He very clearly told me to let Tim love me. “Accept Tim as a representation of my love for you, Krista.” If we are called to love God and love others, we need to accept that same love for ourselves so that we can pass it on. A few years later, Tim Martin is now my husband.
The second thing: God sent me to college. Part of me felt it was selfish to go to college and spend four years seeking a degree when I could serve God without one. But that’s not what God had for me. I went to college in pursuit of my bachelor’s in social work.
I’m at the end of that process, and I’m asking again what God has for me. Now that I have this degree, I’m ready to do something with it. God has been gracious to me, blessed me, His face shines upon me, so that His ways may be known on earth. How can I best love Him?
I don’t yet know what steps I’ll be taking after graduation, but I do know (through His word in Philippians 4:6–7) not to be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, to present my requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
Krista Martin served with EMM on the 2009 Southeast Asia YES team, before working as a training assistant at the Harrisburg Discipleship Center from 2010–2011. After writing this blog post, Krista was led to a position at Bethany Christian Services, which cares for children and families by providing pregnancy support, adoption services, and foster care.