July 28, 1995 – the summer before my senior year of high school – I stood before a prophet and his wife who told me this:
“You are an Esther…There will be a day that I’ll (God) send you out to the burrows and the low places because you will stand up for your people. You will stand up for those who are hurting, those who are dying, and those who are seeking God. So, I see you on a missionary journey. As you study and further your education, I (God) will begin to speak with you on those places that I (God) would have you visit across the world, wherever. God has called you to be a parent, not just to your natural children, but to many, many children. God has called you to mother many, many people….God wants you to minister to them as a mother nurtures her children.
Being the all-knowing teenager that I was, I decided to pick and choose what I wanted from this prophecy- Esther- cool love story; Across the world – I love to travel; Minister to many, many children – I love kids. In my teenage wisdom, I determined that this “missionary journey” business couldn’t have been for me since my desire to travel in order to study and see the world didn’t quite mesh with a missionary picture of me on a street corner or in a remote village waving my Bible, warning people about the end of the world. I decided that God’s work would be better served with me in a middle-class classroom where my mission field would be my socio-economically disadvantaged students. It’s hard not to laugh at the limited vision and audacity of this teenager who, of course, “knew everything.”
Over the next few years, I did get to travel as a language student, certainly not as a missionary. But, I happen to know that we serve a relentless God whose words will not return to Him without accomplishing His good purpose. Ten years after I had decided that I wasn’t the “missionary kind,” I was in a burrow in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, kneeling in the dirt, surrounded by small children sitting on tree stumps for chairs, and telling them about the love of Jesus; trying to help them not be distracted by the chickens clucking about or the sow nursing her piglets a few yards away, but instead immensely grateful for the hanging laundry that served as shade from the intense sun. In that burrow, I repented and God opened my eyes to see that before me was His picture of my missionary journey – the adventure He wanted me to join Him on. He knew that I would be my best me kneeling in the dirt, and loving those kids because that’s what He had designed me to do.
Now, partnered with Him for this adventure, I traveled to San Luis Potosi for the next three summers and witnessed an amazing outpouring of His Spirit. Then, something changed. I didn’t know, until later, that this change would set me on a course for Cambodia.
Shelli currently resides in Dallas, Texas where she teaches high school Spanish. She uses her diverse classroom experiences & knowledge of well-researched instructional strategies to train, coach, and support colleagues on her campus, in her school district, and across the state.
With a heart for education, her boundaries are edges of the world. Urged to "GO," Shelli has found herself profoundly impacted by various & sundry people, cultures, and languages.
Shelli is actively involved at Covenant Church, founded by Pastors Mike and Kathy Hayes in Carrollton, Texas.
Find Shelli on Twitter: @ariel_lioness