Urbana ’12

Guest ColumnistCommunity News

by Veronica Ocejo

I never wanted to be a missionary. Once an African missionary visited my church back in my hometown of Portland, Oregon. I remember sitting wide-eyed in the pews thinking, I’ll never be a missionary; this is scary stuff. As a matter of fact, I never wanted to leave Portland. I was content to graduate high school, go to community college and see where life took me… within the walls of the city. It became evident God had other plans.

First, he brought me to Santa Barbara. I attended Westmont College where I had two opportunities to travel to Asia, a place where I said I would never travel. I explored Thailand and Cambodia on a Mayterm about human trafficking. The next year I traveled to Nepal to teach English for a month in Kathmandu. I was hooked. In an attempt to gratify my desire to interact with the global community, I became determined to raise funds for missionaries. Out of fear, I was selling myself short of the plans that God had in store for me.

Every time I leave a country, I’m changed. In Thailand and Cambodia I realized that I would forever be dedicated to freeing those who were oppressed; I knew I had to stand up for them. In Nepal, God sought me out, sought for my whole life, not just the parts that I had sectioned off for Him. He wanted to free me from my fearful life. There, in Kathmandu, I willingly gave Him all parts of me.

The natural progression seemed to be signing up for Urbana ‘12. I studied international rhetoric; I had visited Asia, and now it was time to get connected with others who had the same vision. I attended incredible seminars led by a variety of different people. I was surrounded by so many different cultures. At times it was overwhelming and seemed like too much to handle. -Still there was lightness amongst the 16,000 attendees. There was a Spirit that reached out to each of us.

Yet I felt hardened. I was unwilling to let God speak to me in the ways that he had in Asia. He brought me to the prayer ministry room where I realized without His healing I couldn’t move forward with the incredible plans He had laid on my heart. A prayer minister helped me begin the process of healing. My scars and fears were once again holding me back from His plan. The Lord came to me and spoke over the lies I had believed for years and gave me a bit of light on my path; He wants me to be a missionary.

Naturally, this scared me to death, but I know it to be true. I can feel it in my gut. He pulls me from there; He implants a yearning that I can’t seem to satiate. No food, no drink, no amount of laughter or tears can make it go away. When I feel it, I close my eyes and hear different languages, I smell curries and fresh fruits, I see poverty, and I have to move. Yet I’m nervous even to write it down.

I want to go back to Nepal. There, thousands of people are becoming Christians every month. Those in the valleys and hillsides are hearing about Christ and coming into His family. And I want to help!

There’s too much of Urbana to adequately describe it. What I took away was that God wants His Spirit to guide us every day. He wants us to lean on Him for everything. For me, anything can get in the way of that. Washing my car, getting to work on time–all of it seems to detract for the One and Only who wants to walk through life with me.  He wants to lean over and whisper, “Remember my people. Remember whom I love.” While at Urbana, I was able to hear Him again. Now I desire to hear all He has to say, even if it scares me to death… like going back to Nepal… which scares me to death.

I have a great life in Santa Barbara. I’m pretty content. Yet I close my eyes again and I hear the horns, I feel the muggy heat, I see the vividly painted temples, and I know that God has more for me.

And now, as you read this, you know and so I have to go! When will I leave? Who knows. How will I ever pay for a ticket across the world? WHO KNOWS. The Lord does. He’s got it all planned out and by taking this step toward Him, I know that He will provide in His time.