“I’ll go for five months. Five months. Then I’ll get back to real life.”

These were the casual words I muttered before graduating college. I had committed to serving as a missionary in Thailand, and when completed, I’d return home to find a job and settle down. Although everyone agreed that was best, it quickly became clear I was created for more than settling down.

I landed, alone, in the humid city of Bangkok. It took a mere three minutes before my throat clenched and I declared my decision a mistake. Days passed, filled with fear and discomfort in the world I now lived. I slept amid poverty and worked with victims ravaged by AIDS. Fear morphed to pain, and pain turned to love as my heart broke for the suffering, injustice, and disease plaguing a nation. How could so much destruction be taking place, and no one care?

It’s easy to view tragedies like disease, poverty, and natural disaster as too immense to even make a dent. And it only gets easier when you’re completely removed culturally and geographically. But behind those words lie faces, and if we’re called to be God’s hands and heart on this earth, we’ve got a lot more than just settling down to do.

God has gifted YOU in a beautifully unique way. Past the stress and hardships of our daily routine, rests the opportunity to step out in faith, be a sacrifice, and LIVE extraordinarily for Christ! We are missionaries in our city as much as someone overseas. So my encouragement is to release the doubts that so powerfully dictate our minds, and walk in His promises. Hold fast to God’s truth and love, and share it, fervently. It’s amazing to be part of His work!

Some faces behind the words.

Gina meola photography thailand_2

Gina meola photography thailand_3

Gina meola photography thailand_1

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by Gina Meola

  • http://www.momssharpeningmoms.blogspot.com Kristen@Moms Sharpening Moms

    So well said! I don’t want to just settle down, either, but raise a raucous for Christ!
    I love your reminder that we are all missionaries…not just overseas, but in our communities (and in our homes!) God bless you for the extraordinary mission work you are doing, Ms. Gina. You are surely making our Daddy proud!

  • http://www.othersuchhappenings.com Marsha

    Powerfully spoken with the images, Gina.
    It is scary and hard to open up your heart to the hurts of others. It is easier to block it out and ignore it. Easier, but not better.
    Thank you for the encouragement. I am doing my best to wait on the Lord to give me clear direction in some areas… areas mingled with my own apprehensions and fears. I know God is using your story as part of His map for me. Not sure exactly how at this very moment, but a piece of the big picture nonetheless.

  • http://www.multitaskingmama.com Melissa multitasking mama

    As I read Radical by David Platt, I see that you are living a life that is truly pleasing to Jesus. thank you for following Him no matter the cost and sharing your beautiful thoughts!

  • Dee

    There is so much suffering in our world. Thanks for prying our minds away from our own simple suffering and opeining our eyes to much greater suffering. Thank you for your service. Lord, give me strength and opportunity to offer healing somewhere soon.

  • Geno Meola

    Gina, You truly are an amazing young woman God has created in His image. Thank you so much for the reminders- “We are His hands and feet on this earth” and WE ARE ALL created for missions (no matter where). Your article and pics moved me to tears again reliving what you experienced in Thailand. I love you and pray Our Lord will continue to use you in mighty ways you never thought possible!! From your earthly father………. XOXOXO

  • http://www.PayalPatel.net Payal Patel

    This is a great article, Gina. So moving…I find myself amidst society looking to help in ways as well through volunteer work and merely, a helping hand. Keep up the amazing work!

  • http://profile.typepad.com/gitzengirl Sara

    Your words hit home, but your photographs move the heart. Thank you for sharing your talents and gifts.

  • http://www.thegypsymama.com Lisa-Jo @thegypsymama

    “Fear morphed to pain, and pain turned to love.” – Yes, amazing the tranformative power of love. Once it gets a foothold anywhere or on anyone, it changes everything.
    Thank you for these beautiful faces – thank you for sharing them with us.

  • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp@Holy Experience

    Yeah— that: “Fear morphed to pain, and pain turned to love as my heart broke for the suffering.”
    Yeah — *that.*
    I want to do that. Step into fear, feel pain, morph into love…
    I want to cup the faces, look into the eyes of these children, hold the pain and be broken wide open by it… Jesus is with them, the poor, the hurting, the dispossessed of this world — so why do I stay in the safe, clean places?
    Your story, your photos — ripped me right open.
    I really like you. You shining Jesus.
    You teach me.
    All’s grace,

  • http://www.thehooversinternational.blogspot.com Jessica

    Thanks for this…God is a God of truth…you speak it well. This post was a confirmation to my heart.

  • http://www.thaimelanie.blogspot.com Melanie Currie

    Thanks for posting on Thailand. My heart is there, and I am raising money to go back and keep working in the Bangkok slums. It’s good to be reminded to walk in God’s truth, especially when I feel a similar pang that I am not called to settle down, but be unsettled for the Lord right now.

  • http://blog.inthenameoflove.org Bianca

    G, I’m so proud of you! Keep pushing forward. This is beautiful :)

  • SP Meola

    We’ve seen and heard this scenario too many times to live in ignorance without action.
    God works through US. If we ignore His directive, we ignore Him. Keep writing. Your words prick the hearts of those that need to overcome indifference and move for Christ. I love you-

  • http://ginaandcharlie.wordpress.com Gina LB

    Those are some of the most touching photos from your time there but they are all so wonderful~ Thanks for sharing!