As a teenager and into my 20’s I struggled with social anxiety disorder. Going out with a group of friends set my stomach in knots and just the thought of being in a situation where I might have to talk to people I didn’t know would send me into an outright anxiety attack. I refused to share my thoughts in a small group setting let alone stand up and speak in front of a group of people. My comfort zone didn’t extend much further than my front door, definitely no further than my own community, and the idea of traveling alone to a foreign country where I did not know anyone would have been out of the question. You may be thinking that obviously God has healed me from all of that and in many ways He has but I continue to be a homebody at heart and I still feel sick at the thought of meeting new people. It is only because of God that I am able to travel to all these different places, constantly surrounded by new people. It’s not easy for me but I have learned to step out in obedience and trust God to give me all I need.
There is something else I need to tell you… I have never had any desire to work with children with special needs. To be brutally honest, I have always felt extremely awkward and uncomfortable around children and adults with Down syndrome, etc. and would try my best to avoid having to interact with them. It’s not something I’m proud of but it’s a truth I feel I need to share. God began changing my heart the day I discovered Reece’s Rainbow and began learning about the plight of special needs orphans in Eastern Europe. The more I learned, the more my heart broke and I knew I had to do something. I wouldn’t say that I developed a true love for special needs kids but I saw the need and my heart’s cry became, “Here am I. Send me!” Since arriving here in Ukraine, all of that has changed. I have fallen head-over-heels in love with the special needs kids here, finally seeing them as the gifts from God that they truly are, and dreaming of the day when I will have a house full of special needs beauties of my own. Nevertheless, I want you to know that this did not come naturally for me and has only been a result of the power of God at work in me.
I hope that helps to set the record straight; I am not someone special. I am just an ordinary person, with plenty of flaws and failings, but I serve a mighty God who chooses to use ordinary people who are willing to step out in obedience and follow Him. So don’t put God in a box and tell Him what you are and are not capable of doing for Him. If He can use me, then He can use you too.