From a very early age, my son Nicholas had a servant’s heart.
He was always taking care of people and checking to ensure they were comfortable. As a tiny little two year old, he saw me sitting on the couch, one day, without a blanket. So he stood up, picked up the blanket beside him and walked it over to me, covering my lap. When we would go to restaurants, he would stop at every single table and shake hands with the guests – we thought he’d be a politician for sure. And he saved his little sister’s life on more than one occasion, but that’s another topic in and of itself.
So it came as no surprise to any of us that, after applying to a mission outreach program called Youth With a Mission (YWAM) in December of 2015, he was accepted. As a part of YWAM, young people go through various Discipleship Training School (DTS) programs to learn more about missions, discipleship and serving, prior to their actual mission or Outreach. Once their training is complete, they go to various countries throughout the world and although, we knew where Nick’s DTS would be, we had no idea where he would go for Outreach.
Nick was set to do his DTS in Kona, Hawaii, in April 2016. A few weeks prior to his departure, he called me to excitedly tell me he found out where his mission would take him. I could hear the excitement in his voice, when I answered the phone. “Mom!” Nicholas said, “Mom, you’re not going to believe where I’m going!”
I was excited for him and was prepared to hear him say, Africa (which has been on his heart for years), China, India or any other number of places. What I wasn’t prepared for was what he would say next. And it took a few moments for my brain to process what he said.
I’m going to Korea.
I immediately became nauseated. Korea? My son is going to Korea? And he is excited about it?
All I could think of was North Korea and how dangerous of a place that was. A million emotions overcame me all at the same time and I couldn’t begin to tell you how the rest of our conversation went. My world began spinning and my heartbeat raced. No! No! Nooooo….
Big, huge tears welled up in my eyes as I was drove. Having just let a Pathway’s graduation in Dallas, I went from a place of overflowing joy to a place of extreme despair, and I began to panic.
For me, that moment started the process of having a much deeper understanding of just how powerful God is and how very much he loves his children.
When I was pregnant with Nicholas, I carried a lot of guilt for choices I made in my life prior to conceiving him. I feared my baby would suffer the consequences of my actions and knew that bringing a child into this world as a single mother gave him an unfair advantage, before he was even born.
So I prayed. I prayed every single day for that baby. I prayed hard, and I prayed often. In my prayers, I asked God to send angels to play with my unborn child and to sing to him in the womb. Some may think that’s a crazy thing to do, but I knew God would hear my pleas and answer my prayers. I truly believe He did just that.
I also prayed that my baby would be born healthy and happy, and I even made a deal with God. Now, I know God isn’t too much in the Let’s Make a Deal business, but I thought I had a pretty good offer. I proposed to God that if he would protect my child from my mistakes, that I would give Nicholas to Him. I would hand him over to God and allow Him to use my child for his good.
All of these years later, I see clearly that God held up to His end of the deal – Nicholas was indeed happy and healthy – and now God was going to require me to live up to mine. He called Nick to missions and ministry.
Nick was the most amazing baby and toddler any parent could ask for. He was an absolute joy to have, and he was so full of love that others could feel it, when they were in his presence. That big dimply smile never left his face. His laughter was truly contagious. And anyone who ever encountered him would testify to the fact that he was a big, bright light in this world.
I can’t tell you how many times I was told by school teachers, daycare workers and Sunday School teachers that if they had a room full of kids like him, their job would be so much easier. He was simply a very happy little boy.
Sadly, this world is full of evil. At some point during his youth, the enemy began targeting Nicholas. As all of us who walk by faith know Satan attacks and tries to destroy anyone who is valuable to God and who is called to do His work. He knows all of our weaknesses and threw the one thing that could destroy Nick right in his face and taunted him with it.
During Christmas break of his freshman year of high school, Nicholas found his biological father on Facebook and sent him a friend request. A bold move for a young teenage man. But instead of being accepted by this man, Nick was rejected. Within minutes, his “father” blocked him.
Nick was crushed.
My vibrant, joyful child spiraled downhill so fast it made my head spin. Four months fast to be exact. In four months, I watched my child go from being a practically straight A student – who throughout his school career had been voted Mardi Gras King, Student Council President and National Honor Society President by peers and teachers – to a student who was struggling to make a single passing grade and who cried every single day. He also began fighting with his sister and with me. A lot.
One day in particular, when Nick lashed out at us, Erin felt I was taking his side and ran up to her room, got in her bed and began crying. I sat down beside her, stroked her hair and told her that some really big things were happening in Nick’s life. I told her, as his family, we had to make our home a safe place for him. “Everyone needs a safe haven, and for him, it needs to be at home.”
Nick was beginning to be bullied in his gym class at Captain Shreve High School, and his coach was turning a blind eye. He was bullied for being a devout Christian, he had just been rejected by his biological father and now he was having thoughts of ending his own life.
Without telling any more of Nick’s story, I’ll just say that I knew I had to get him help. The professionals were able to help get him over the big hump of depression, but it was a youth trip he attended over the summer that was the catalyst for change in his life.
Nicholas found himself once again safe in the arms of Jesus. He withstood the peer pressure at school to stand firm to his faith – his beliefs. He made a bold decision to bear the cross of a Christian young man in high school.
So it came as no surprise to me when, after Nick’s first mission trip to Honduras, he decided world missions would be a big part of his service to God. But never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined that Korea would be a part of God’s plan for him.
As soon as I hung up the phone with Nicholas, my heart beat quickened. It became so difficult to breathe that I felt physically ill. Tears were streaming down my face. I needed a break.
After pulling my car into a deserted gas station along the 1-20 corridor, I got out and threw my own little fit. Well, maybe it wasn’t such a little fit. It was actually a rather large one – a full fledged temper tantrum. Right there in that abandoned parking lot, I yelled. A lot. At God.
I felt like the entire world was caving in around me. How could God do this to me? After all I have been through in my life! Now, He is going to now take my son and send him to a dangerous place where I cannot protect him? These were just a few of the many thoughts running through my head.
So I asked Him. I asked God, “Why?” Over and over again I asked, as I threw rocks into the field before me. “Why my child?” and “Why my son?” I yelled at God, “You could have picked anyone in the entire world to do Your work! Why does it have to be my child???”
And then He answered me.
Right there, in that dilapidated parking lot, God spoke to me. His voice was undeniable and the words he said to me were so very powerful. He said, “Oh, but Amy, Nick is my son. He’s my child. He’s your gift on Earth, but he is my child. And who can take care of Nicholas better than Me?”
In that exact moment, an unexplainable peace came over me. Those words, that promise, changed my entire perspective about parenting, and they have given me peace over and over again, when fear or worry have tried to creep in.
Looking back, I can only laugh at myself. How arrogant was I for believing I could ever actually protect my child – either one of them – without God’s help? He is the one who gifted me with both Nicholas and Erin. He is the one who, like Erin asked me to say every night during our prayers, sends his army of angels to surround them, daily. He is the one who loves them exponentially more than I could ever imagine. That’s who was going to protect my gift.
I am comforted by God’s promise and know He’s got this. He loves Nick and Erin more than I ever could. God hand-picked Nicholas to do His work. He is Nick’s father, He is Nick’s daddy, and He loves Nick with the perfect love that can only come from our Heavenly Father.
God Confirms His Message
While overseas, God spoke the same message to Nicholas that He spoke to me. God told Nick that He was his father. Then, he repeatedly confirmed this message.
When Nick was little, bless his heart, I sang You are My Sunshine to him every day. If you’ve ever heard me sing, you’d know that it probably wasn’t the most pleasant experience for a small child. But his mommy singing that song to him is something he still remembers.
One day during Nick’s first DTS, he asked God to communicate His posture towards him. Nick told me he became frustrated, because after a rather long period of time, he still couldn’t hear God’s voice. But he continued to pray and had faith an answer would come.
All of a sudden, Nick heard You are my sunshine, my only sunshine… And he knew immediately that God was speaking to him, using the very song that was sung to him as a toddler to answer the question of how He feels about Nick. By using this very song, in essence, God was telling him, “You are my child. I am your father, and I love you.”
But if you know God like I do, you know he wasn’t through, yet. He had a little more showing off to do.
Nicholas, with tears in his eyes, walked from one building to another where he had to cross through a small passageway connecting the two. As he did, he heard the music some of the other students were listening to.
They were listening to No Longer Slaves, and as he walked through, the only line he heard was I am a child of God.
Are you kidding me!?! Seriously? Of all the songs they could have possibly been listening to and of all lines to be playing at that exact moment, that’s the line he heard?
What’s more, that particular song also confirmed God’s message to both me and to Nick.
From my mother’s womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name.
Nicholas was chosen to do God’s work, while he was still in my womb. I made a promise to God before Nick was ever born, and God held me to that promise.
Nicholas teaching about keeping the faith during difficult circumstances.
One of his mission trips in 2016.
The song continues…
I’ve been born again
Into your family
Your blood flows through my veins.
Any of us who call on the name of Jesus are born again and can claim our rightful place in God’s family. Nicholas took that step at the tender age of six. And while in Korea, God asked Nicholas to call him “Daddy” over and over again, until he truly believed that God is his daddy – not just a father – but a sweet, loving, tender daddy.
And what a wonderful daddy He is! He’s Nick’s daddy, he’s my daddy and he’s your daddy. He loves us so much more than we could ever imagine. He loves our children, our gifts on Earth, so much more than we could fathom.
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God.
For Nicholas, being freed from the bonds of fear is what allowed him to step into his calling. For me, being freed from the fear of unworthiness has allowed me to step into mine. We are all God’s children, and we are called to use our lives to glorify Him.
Are you willing to Let Go and Let God?
Are you willing to let go of worrying yourself into a frenzy over your loved ones, your children, and have faith knowing God is in control?
July 2, 2016, Nick left Hawaii and flew to Nepal, and then to Thailand, and finally to
South Korea, which by the way, is very different from North Korea.