We're happy to share a conversation we had with Janine recently. When Bloom! was a print magazine, Janine was one of our writers, as well as a friend of ours. We're excited how the Lord is moving in her life and are glad to share that with you...
Janine, how and when did you get started on the journey of living for Jesus?
My journey with Jesus has been an incredible one. The Lord was so gracious to me by allowing me to grow up in a Christian family where I was taught about Jesus from a young age. When I was eight-years-old, I realized that I had done wrong and deserved to be separated from God in hell. At that time, God allowed me to hear and understand the Gospel - that Jesus came to live among us without sin, die a death that He did not deserve, and rise again so that we could now have a relationship with the God who created us. At that time, I called on the name of Jesus for salvation.
As I've grown older, the Lord has continued to lead me further up and further in. He has shown me that He deserves to be Lord of every aspect of my life. He has given me a heart more like His - to care for the poor, the oppressed, and the prisoners. He has put a desire and longing to share His story of redemption among people that never heard it before.
Over the years you've been on several mission trips. Share with us a few stories of God's working while you were there.
The Lord has given me opportunities to travel for short trips to Central America and North Africa. For each of the trips, I went with a team who partnered with local believers and workers in order to support them. I met disciples of Jesus who are willing to follow Him even in the midst of persecution.
Sarah* (name changed) is a Somali girl I met while in Africa. She works as a nurse and translator in a clinic for her community. From a Muslim background, she had heard the story of Jesus and had chosen to follow Him. In a culture where girls typically are married before the age of twenty, Sarah rejected two marriage proposals because of her beliefs. Despite the risk of being rejected by her family, Sarah has shared what she believes with her family; yet, only her younger sister has decided to become a disciple of Jesus. Even in the midst of this, Sarah is one of the most joyful people I have met. She regularly shares and prays with her patients in the clinic and even meets with some of them in her free time to teach them more. She courageously has chosen to follow Jesus even when it is very difficult.
In what ways have these trips impacted your heart and how you live?
These trips have impacted me in many ways. I have been convicted of my selfishness, discontentment, pride, and lack of trust in God during truly difficult times. The Lord used these trips to give me a greater understanding for how He is working throughout the world. They have also made me appreciate other cultures and better examine my own.
The more that I've gone further up and further in my journey with Jesus, the more God has continued to chisel away things in my life. These things have not necessarily been bad or wrong (although many times they are) - instead, they have been things that have gotten in the way of being absolutely content in Christ alone. I have found that I look to other people or things or plans or dreams to make me happy. I am so glad that God continues to reveal these things to me - and trips to other countries have certainly been times that He has shown me what stands in the way of my being satisfied in God alone. He has given me a desire to live simply in community among the people He loves.
Tell us where God has you now. What are some of the joys and challenges you are facing?
Right now, I am living and working in an inner-city community in Memphis. During the weekdays, I work in a family medicine clinic which serves my community. In my free time, I get to visit my neighbors, hang out with high school girls, and live in community with my church. I love being a tiny part of what God is doing in my city and throughout the world. I love seeing God seek people and bring them to Himself. I love hearing the amazing stories of those who are part of my community.
Identifying with the pain and brokenness of those I love has been one of my challenges. As I've become more involved in the community, I have become more aware of the pain and sadness and death and brokenness. I often feel helpless and very insignificant but wish that I could do something to change situations. My fear is that I will see injustice but fail to do anything about it; or, worse yet, fail to see it at all. It is a challenge to know exactly how best to help.
A few of Janine's favorite things...
running :: photojournalism :: spending time outdoors :: community development
:: reading :: journaling :: dreaming about what God could do