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Colette’s Story

Pursuing an Irresistible Call

I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin, where we all looked the same and had the same experiences. I appreciate the biblical foundation I got through my home church and my years that followed at Bethel University, but it also led me to question: what of my faith is cultural, and what is really of God? That’s a journey I’ve been on now for about twenty years! Studying and learning directly from the Bible has really helped, creating a foundation for seeing the world and myself from God’s perspective. The challenge has been in getting that head knowledge to actively affect my life, what I do, and how I see people.

A turning point for me was seeing a photograph of a refugee family—a mom, dad, and two kids—living in a tent, when I had two little kids myself. I think God was finally ready to tell me that that could be me. I realized that I’m not more special. I’m not more loved. I’m not more important. That could actually be me and my family. When I was growing up, poverty and injustice seemed to be in the past or at least far away. And here God was working on me to see the truth.

This God I try to serve is the definition of justice. I think there are a lot of good people with a heart for justice, and I think that’s great. But I feel fortunate that I can partner with God. He’s not just interested in getting us to heaven someday. It’s about NOW. He’s working now, and He’s inviting us to join Him in His work.

In 2007 I received a brochure about International Justice Mission [IJM]. It took me a while to even look at it, knowing I couldn’t “unlook”—I’d know the reality and the sadness and the heartbreak. When I did finally read it, I learned that slavery was happening today. But IJM’s biblical values and the excellence of their work and the fact that they are actually making progress—it gave me hope. My husband and I became financial partners, and recently I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer with IJM’s local team as a liaison between CPC and IJM.

Prayer is a huge focus at IJM. For me, prayer has always been a struggle. I don’t always get it, I’ve questioned the theology on prayer, and I had a child who was sick for a long time, and I prayed and prayed and prayed and it didn’t seem to get better. So what did all that mean? I was talking about my doubts on prayer with Pastor Emily, and when we walked into this IJM conference together, a young man was on stage who had been a slave on a fishing boat on Lake Volta. When IJM started working there, they sent out a photograph of two boys on a boat. I whispered to Emily, “I’ve been praying for him!” It was amazing to go from talking about doubting prayer to seeing the results literally standing before me. I still struggle with prayer, but that experience teaches me to remember to pray and the power in our prayers.

I’m a news junkie, and the state of the world can feel overwhelming. It’s hard to know what God wants us to do. But what He has shown me over time is that if it is something that breaks His heart—and it’s breaking my heart, too—I should move forward. God is not asking us to fix every problem. He’s asking us to take a little piece of His broken heart.

My encouragement to others is to take the first step and see where it leads. Sometimes that’s all you need to do. You have the chance to join God in His work, which means you have the power and the hope to do the work—for in the end, He is victorious.