Just a few hours from now I will board a plane to spend the next six months in India. I will continue to develop my skills within the field of photojournalism, while immersing myself in the language and culture of India. I have the wonderful opportunity to study Hindi at an intensive language school, intern with a news agency, and teach photography to at-risk youth.
This trip is the culmination of many years of studying, praying, hoping, and dreaming. Twelve years ago, I went on my first international trip to Tijuana, Mexico as a wide-eyed 13 year old. It was on that trip that I witnessed a suffering world that I never knew existed. At the same time, I encountered a loving God who birthed in me a passion to serve the poor. As I crossed back over the border to the United States, I made the declarative statement that I was going to do “this” for the rest of my life. At the time, I had no idea what “this” looked like, only the sincere conviction that the Lord had called me to give my life in service to the poor.
I returned to Mexico every summer during my middle and high school years. Tijuana will always hold a special place in my heart as it marks the beginning of a lifetime of service.
A few years later I faced the dreaded decision of where to go to college. As a middle-class white girl with a high GPA, my options were open. Despite my many options, I felt directionless. I knew where I wanted to go in life, but I was clueless as to how to get there. I recognized that despite my enthusiasm and zeal, I had very few practical skills that could actually benefit the people I so desperately wanted to help. I was determined not to follow in the footsteps of so many well-intentioned missionaries who burned out after only a few years or even months of service.
I sought the Lord for direction, believing He would show me where I needed to be. He responded by showing me a group of people that lived out His Word with a passion and conviction that was unparalleled. Not only were they committed to serving the poor, they were giving their lives to learn the Word so that they could do so effectively.
It’s been six years since I first enrolled at the Institute for G.O.D. International. These years have been filled with learning, serving, and growing in my relationship with the Lord. I’ve been challenged daily by my teachers and mentors to become the person God needs me to be in the world: someone who can apply the Word to every situation, who chooses faith over fear amidst life’s obstacles, and who lives sacrificially to serve the people around them. My teachers and mentors have given me countless opportunities to develop both spiritually and occupationally. While I carry the same conviction, I am no longer the wide-eyed 13 year old that I once was. Instead, I will board this plane with knowledge and skills from those who have so generously invested into my life.
On the eve of my trip, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude to the Lord who has truly answered my prayers and shown me a way to live my life in service to him. My life is so much better than I could have ever imagined--not because it’s easy, but because I get to follow the Lord with a group of people who are fully devoted to seeing His kingdom come on earth, as it is in heaven. In many ways, it feels as if my journey is only beginning. I will undoubtedly be challenged, humbled and changed by the next six months in India, but I find rest in the knowledge that the Lord will be with me each step of the way, gently guiding me as He has since I was a child.
Kelly Jobe is a member of the India regional team and a developing photojournalist. She will serve in India from January 1st-June 28th. Click here to view her blog and follow her updates.