In a few days, Maddie Pearson will leave her life in Austin and move to the Middle East. Despite the fact that she is leaving everything she's ever known, the hardest part has been giving away her Calphalon pots and pans. "That was a big deal," she said, "even bigger than selling my car."
Maddie first considered international missions as a high school student, but like many students, she assumed she would first get her college degree and then go. With her plan set, she headed off to Texas State to pursue her studies. But college wasn't all she thought it would be.
"I never really liked school. I just went because that's what you do. I loved learning, but hated college, and I think there was a reason for that," Maddie explained.
After getting involved with The Austin Stone, she was asked to go on a vision trip to a country in the Middle East.
"I had the worst time ever. Everything went wrong. But I knew I wanted to go back because I fell in love with the place."
The next summer, she had the opportunity to return to that same country, and it was on this trip that God confirmed where Maddie's mission field would be.
"When I was there, it felt like two magnets finding each other. It just instantly fit. I loved it more than Texas, which was a lot. That was a really weird and new feeling for me," Maddie recalled.
After returning home to Austin, Maddie felt God calling her to pursue the mission field as soon as possible.
One spring day in 2010, she was too distracted to even read her Bible.
"My disobedience was so convicting. I just set down my Bible right there and said, 'Okay. Let's do this.' I wasn't super amped about it, but I knew it was obedience."
The next Sunday, she received confirmation through a sermon at The Austin Stone.
"It was crazy because he was preaching and said verbatim, 'If God wants you to drop out of school and move to the Middle East, you do it.' That next week I called and told my parents that's what I was doing," Maddie said.
It's been a little over a year since that day, and Maddie is ready to see what God is going to do while she's there. Although her team has made a two-year commitment, Maddie is prepared to stay indefinitely. But if she must leave someday, she knows the legacy she wants to leave behind.
"I hope if I leave [the Middle East], I'm just a glimmer of what my friends [there] remember. I hope they remember the way that God worked through me."
With her departure day approaching quickly, Maddie is learning to rely on God.
"I've been learning that while I'm there, [I'll have to] trust Jesus with my money, my words, my friendships, and the souls of my Middle Eastern friends. I'm realizing that it's going to be hard knowing that I have to trust Jesus to save their souls, that I can't do anything."
Maddie is encouraged daily by the words of Matthew 5:14 and Jesus' vision for the church: "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden."
Maddie is excited to see God fulfill his promises. With a heart full of hope and her bags packed, she is ready to leave her life in Austin and her Calphalon cooking set behind.
"I want the church to see the need for Jesus in the world. This is so much more important than an education, career, friendship or comfort. It's about being a light in such a dark place. There is just such a big need. We need more workers."