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  • Cheri

Cheri's Story

I’ve always had a heart for the “other,” the marginalized on the fringe of society. As a kid, I would seek out the kids that nobody would sit next to, the dude wearing all black with chains around his waist, the girl hiding in a classroom during lunch hour. Something in me compelled me to find these people and befriend them. In hearing their stories, I learned early on that we all really aren’t so different from one another – we’re simply born into different life circumstances, and react accordingly.

My affinity for anything international in flavor has also marked each stage of my life. As a middle schooler, I dreamt of becoming a CIA agent, hiding in plain sight in foreign countries to help deliver justice and shine a light on the darkness that was occurring around me. This eventually became less James Bond and more Eleanor Roosevelt as I matured, with my focus in high school and college turning instead to more diplomatic means.

I studied international politics and relations topics extensively at Boston College, graduating with a honors in History and International Studies: Cooperation and Conflict. I spent countless hours studying the historical backgrounds behind why countries and people groups acted as they had within (and outside of) their political systems, and wanted to take on the world to help radically change the cycles of poverty and injustice that were rampant throughout.

The only problem to my plan was that I was missing the Author of goodness, the only One who could actually make a lasting impact on society.

This was a hard lesson to learn. I spent a semester my Junior year abroad in Geneva, Switzerland, the heart of all things international aid-related that I loved. I met with leaders from global organizations, took courses taught by chief economists and international human rights lawyers, and rubbed shoulders with delegations from around the world that came to visit the UN. I even interned with an organization that was dedicated to serving the hopeless, the hidden and the hurting.

Instead of renewing my hope in the best efforts of humanity to serve others, I left shattered. Top leaders were raging alcoholics, more likely found at bars in red light districts than churches. Families were often torn apart from the pressures of work, hearts turned to stone from being immersed in the devastation that humanitarian workers face daily. I will never forget when one of the NATO analysts shared his frustration with the system, that he was left a mere shell, devoid of the idealistic passion that had brought him to the field decades earlier. This sentiment was echoed throughout numerous meetings that we held with those in governmental and non-governmental organizations alike.

I returned to the States at a loss. I finished out my schooling without any idea of what came next, my dreams of saving the world utterly crushed by the reality that bureaucracies only solidified evil’s hold on the world. My brother’s family took me in for a time, and I worked hard to forget the passion that God had put in my heart for the hurting, the broken, the enslaved.

The funny thing is – when God has called you out with His heart for the lost, no salary or career or church activities or degree of busy-ness can ever truly quench that fire.

When God pushed us to take the Discipleship Training Course at our church, I went in expecting warm fuzzies and lessons on how to be A Good Christian. What I didn’t expect was the crushing hopelessness from my college days to be lifted and resolved, for God to radically push to the forefront the passion He had placed in me long ago.

When I was trying to change the world on my own, I was effectively throwing rice at hungry people, expecting that a simple solution would affect lasting change. What I hadn’t factored in was that when people worship darkness, they reap darkness. When a nation worships a god that desires death and destruction, guess what you can expect in their lives? When a tribe turns from sacrificing their children to instead pursuing the Living God and His wisdom for their lives and their livelihood, what kind of lasting changes can you expect that society to have?

In the pursuit of tolerance and cultural sensitivity, the secular brigade had unintentionally abandoned the world to the repercussions of worshiping evil.

Instead of merely attacking the physical needs of the poor, we must also attack the reason why they have been stolen from, why they have been enslaved, and truly free them from the root cause. God clearly calls us to care for the naked and the hungry – this means their physical needs. He also clearly calls us to spread the Good News of his son, who came to free us spiritually from the practices that have bound cultures for generations.

The answer is so simple. And this time, I'm not turning back. This is what I have been called to, this is what I was made for.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

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