With Jesus beside me, I am ministering to the poor, feeding the hungry, and loving the fatherless. This is my adventure.
by Jessica Smith
As my gap year is coming to an end I wanted to share with everyone how much the Lord has impacted me and turned my world upside down.
This year has been the most amazing year of my life. I have been completely transformed by the love of the Father, ravished by Jesus Christ, my lover, and filled to overflowing with the presence of the Holy Spirit.
As my previous blogs have explained in detail my trip to Mozambique, I will only share a few things regarding my time there. It was INCREDIBLE! Living in Mozambique ruined me (in an amazing way), my heart has been broken for the poor, the orphaned, the sick, the widowed, and the broken hearted. I fell in love with Africa but most importantly I fell in love with people. The Lord downloaded a new sense of compassion in my heart, I began to see people through God’s lenses and not the world’s. It didn’t matter that the village kids smelled, or that their clothes were dirty and falling apart, it didn’t matter that they were covered in scabies, I loved them because they are God’s, they are his precious ones, and he knows each of them intimately. The Lord has been teaching me as I have been home to put on his glasses, to look at the world through his lenses, to see people the way he sees them. I have carried this revelation from Mozambique back to North Carolina and I hope to continue walking it out to my University and beyond.
The teachings, experiences, dreams and visions I received while at the Harvest School have been so deeply and richly deposited into my heart and spirit that I know that I will draw from these wells for the rest of my life.
I miss all of my Mozambican family-the Iris kids, friends, and my missionary friends. Mama Heidi and Papa Rolland Baker have invited my back each summer so I am looking at spending next summer in Mozambique either staffing a school or working alongside Dr. Eric, Dr. Johan, and Annelie in the new children’s hospital. We will see what God does.
Traveling with my parents was a huge privilege. My parents have passed on so much wisdom to me and I am so blessed to have them as my heroes. I was asked to preach many times in Niger and share my testimony of Mozambique including the many visions and revelations revealed to my by the Lord, all over the world. Although I was unable to make it up to Toronto for the School of Ministry’s worship module, the Lord had his plan A for me. I continued to travel and spread the love of the Father and the too good to be true news of Jesus Christ to some of the world’s most unreached people groups. Many people were saved and gave their lives to Jesus and were healed of many sickness and diseases!
I am home now in Raleigh, NC for the summer where I am working again as our local YMCA’s summer swim team coach, swim instructor, and lifeguard.
And on August 18 I will be moving into my dorm room at the University of North Carolina, one of, if not, the most prestigious public universities in the United States. I thank Jesus everyday for giving me a place at UNC. My second year I will be, with the help of a team, planting a Catch The Fire church right on the campus. I was really nervous to come home from Mozambique and go off to college and one day I was in my dad’s guest room at the Visitor’s Center in Pemba when he came to speak at the Harvest School with my best friend Stephanie. We had just been in a session with Mama Heidi where she had spoken on something that had wrecked our hearts, we were aching to go to the deepest, darkest corners of the earth and live our lives completely sold out for missions but we both knew we had to finish our schooling. It felt like the hardest decision coming home, I felt as though I was dragging myself home. As we knew our colleges was where God was calling us for a season we decided to begin crying out and interceding for our campuses. It lasted for about an hour and a half and one of the things I began yelling out was, “GOD DON’T LET MY FIRE BURN OUT WHEN I GO TO COLLEGE!!” I screamed that over and over again and then the Lord said to me so clearly, “Jess, does a fire spread best in a damp or a dry place?” Then I was taken into a vision where I was stood on UNC’s campus-I saw all the buildings and all the students. When I looked down I was stood on a cracked desert floor and as I stepped onto the campus, the whole thing erupted in flames. And the Lord said, “Jess you fire will never burn out when you’re walking in my will and if I have called you to the dry and barren land of your college your fire will never burn out because it will spread until the entire thing is engulfed in flames.” This stirred up Steph and I’s spirits and from that moment on we were sooo pumped to go back home and go to school! Catch The Fire Carolina here we come!
I will be studying a double major of Business (hoping to apply to UNC’s business school for my junior and senior year-one of the top in the country) and Biology (having my pre-requisites for medical school). I know I am called to full-time ministry and I am confident my business degree will help me very much when I one day plant another church on my own after starting CTF Carolina and having a medical degree is also going to help me as I feel called to the mission field as well and want to open medical clinics and orphanages around the world.
I just wanted to thank all of you, my dear friends and family for supporting with your love, prayers, and financial gifts. Without you, none of this gap year would have been possible. Thank you for sharing in my journey and I am excited for all the many more amazing things that God is going to do in me and through me. This is an amazing time to be alive and we have been called for such a time as this! Even if we don’t always necessarily know where to go and what to do in life, the Lord knows and he has his perfect plan. “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”-Proverbs 19:21.
We can think we know what to do, but ultimately the Lord has his plan and he is going to use us and his plan will come to full fruition in his perfect timing, so all we have to do is sit back, relax, and be open and obedient to hearing his voice and following his lead. We can’t go wrong when we’re following him.
Coming To An End
The Republic of Niger is one of the poorest countries in the entire world. It is located in the Sahel areas and the Sahara Desert.
My dad, uncle, and I visited there with one mission, to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
As many of you are probably aware, West Africa is in a famine. Over 130 million people across the Sahel area are guaranteed to die before July if God does not perform a miracle!
Catch The Fire Ministries is closely linked with another amazing missions ministry, run by Terje Liverod from Norway, World Outreach Missions (WOM). They have bases, churches, and schools in Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Mauritania, and Senegal.
When we arrived in Niger I was shocked, I thought surely Mozambique would have prepared me for some of what I was going to experience but Niger was a completely different. I have never, ever, ever seen so much poverty and destitution. Everyone I saw was as skinny as a pole from starvation, there was flies everywhere landing and breeding in babies eyes, and never had I seen a land as barren as the Sahara.
We drove 13 hours from Niamey (the capital) to Zinder, the HQ of WOM. The road was one straight road through the desert with as many potholes are there are stars in the sky, not really, but there was at least 2000.
When we arrived we began teaching and speaking in the CTF Bible School. Many of the students walk by foot miles and miles every day to come to class and learn all about the Father’s love, the importance of forgiveness, and sonship. Pouring into them was such an incredible experience for me as many of the women really needed ministering too. I was able to speak to them about honor and their value and worth. They are so precious and cherished, yet the Muslim Hausa and Fulani cultures look at women as if they were the family dogs.
The following days we drove through the desert buying as many bags of millet we could to feed all of our friends, their families and their friends too. There was 7 of us, squeezed into a 5 seater 1970’s Land Cruiser with the windows down, 50 degree C weather outside and more sand and dust than anyone has ever seen fill up a car. What kept me going was the occasional coke stops, something about a cold African coke in a recycled glass bottle is just amazing!
At each village we stopped and met with the chief and blessed them, prayed for the sick and hugged and loved the children!
At the end of our first day in the desert we slept out in the desert under the stars on nothing but a mat. I have to admit I was so scared because of scorpions and snakes but I declared Luke 10:19 over us the whole night while a cow just yards away from us, cried and whined all night long. “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.”
I survived the evening and we woke up early the next morning to repeat the day before, driving, giving out food, loving, praying. It was amazing! Although I did have an extremely large amount of dirt all over my entire body, I looked African I was so dark!
One of the villages, Dogo, that we visited housed a WOM church and many of our friends. They greeted us with a lovely selection of foods and biscuits and of course cokes, probably everything they could afford and more, these people have nothing but it is their joy and privilege to bless us! So incredible!
I spoke that night to all who had gathered. I spoke on the prodigal son and returning home to our father. 40 People in the village gave their lives to Jesus when I did an altar call! It was incredible! Then that night after we left, IT RAINED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THEY ARE IN A DROUGHT BUT GOD LET IT RAIN THERE! WHAT AN ANSWER TO PRAYER!
Although Niger was hard and difficult, with my dad and uncle getting arrested with machines guns pointed at everyone’s heads, armed escorts, Boka Horam terrorists everywhere and being accused of being Al Queda and Boka Horam, we were able, in the midst of all this devastation and poverty, to bring the love of Jesus to these amazing people! We were able to feed them, Jesus says in Matthew 25 “I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. Whatever you do for me you do for the least of these.”
We are called to be like Jesus in this world, to love the broken, to feed the poor, to heal the sick, and to cast out demons. We are called to love the least of these. That is why we go to the poorest, most dangerous places in the world because these people have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ in their entire family’s generational line. The lost people of the world need to be reached, and guess what, most of them are your neighbors and friends, colleagues, and fellow peers. They are lost just as much as the Fulani tribes in Niger.
You are also called to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Go and find the least of these because they are lost!
The glitter that appeared on a friend, Bernie’s, hands and face. One minute I was prophesying over him, the next, he had glitter all over him!
It has been a long time since my last blog post but I wanted to update everyone on some of my world travels.
I accompanied my parents on a trip to Medellin, Colombia. It was absolutely incredible. They led a one-week International Leaders School of Ministry (ILSOM) with Pastor’s John and Carol Arnott and Carlos Rodriguez from our church in Raleigh. There was over 500 people attending the 5 day school during the day and in the evenings it went to about 800-1000 people on the school.
The Holy Spirit moved so powerfully and everyone was really touched. People were getting healed both physically and emotionally. They were able to forgive, release, and bless the people in their lives who have hurt them, the had breakthrough through deliverance, and they got blasted in the anointing.
I was asked to help with the prophetic teachings and prophesy over people in the crowd. It has been amazing being stretched in my prophetic gift, God loves to speak to us and bless and encourage others.
One specific time after church all the leaders had left the meeting to grab lunch but I continued to minster and lay hands on people. It was a Sunday morning at the second service so out of the church’s 6000 members, about 200 remained. As I was getting ready to leave, I turned around and to my shock there was 100 people lined up waiting for me to pray for them. I went down the line, prophesying and praying. People were falling out under the anointing left right and center, crying, and laughing. When I would let go of their hands, they were DRIPPING in oil, I have never seen anything like it, their hands were so wet with what smelled like oil that you could catch the drops falling off of them. Other’s were covered in gold dust that you could brush off of their clothes. It was incredible! They didn’t care that I was the one praying for them, not one of the other big “spiritual” leaders, they were hungry for one thing, Jesus.
God gave me such a love and a heart for the hispanic people. They are some of the most gentle, yet loud, loving, and hospitable people I have ever met! I was so blessed being able to pray for them and really just love on them.
Every Sunday morning at church we danced for 45 minutes, African style!
My knee brace I wore for 6 weeks
It was the last week of Harvest School and I was days away from graduating. I had had a long day doing hair and makeup for the girls in Iris’ coming of age purity ceremony so I was heading to bed early. As I walked to the restroom one more time before bed, my knee twisted beneath me and I collapsed to the floor shrieking in sheer agony.
I lay in the dirt screaming while the girls in House of Peace ran to my side. I looked down at my leg and to my horror my entire right kneecap was twisted and placed top right. My body began going into shock and I was going in and out of consciousness while my body began to shake, and my jaw began to chatter.
Many nurses surrounded me but everyone was too scared to do anything and decided it was best to wait for the doctor. He however was 45 minutes away. What would usually require very strong analgesics was performed with nothing. I was given one IV that made me woozy…after the correction of the patella (kneecap).
Thankfully, Iris’ doctor, Dr. Johann is an orthopedic and knew exactly what to do. It took him three times to push my patella back in place because it was twisted. But finally after 45 minutes of screaming and agony, my knee was back in place.
I was taken out on a stretcher and by the grace of God Iris had a knee brace and crutches for me.
My leg was in full extension in a full leg brace with metal bars for at least 3 weeks of no mobilization. This was very difficult and really taught me that I needed the body of Christ. I could do nothing on my own. I needed a buddy to hold my leg whilst I used the bathroom, I needed help showering, I needed someone to carry my things and drive me up to class, then carry me across the rocky terrain to the school hut.
The heavy pain medications I was on made me very nauseous and sick. I was throwing up everyday and had very little energy. My leg could not bend at all and my knee was extremely swollen.
The Lord really brought me on a journey of trusting him and a journey of humility. I needed help, I needed the body of Christ, and he gave me compassion for the people who are unable to see a doctor.
I was on the first flight out that I could get, it was ten days after my injury and I was assisted the whole way back to Raleigh with wheelchairs and first class. That was a miracle in itself. I was a bit disappointed that I was going to be missing my outreach but extremely happy that I was going to be back home with my family.
After a week of being home I was able to ditch the crutches and walk solely with my leg brace. I was still unable to bend my knee properly and it was still swollen. The doctor told me I was going to need surgery as my patella ligament, the one that holds my knee cap in place was completely severed and if I didn’t have surgery my knee would pop out all the time. This was distressing but I knew we needed a second opinion.
After Christmas I went to a Chiropractic Kinesiologist who had an 8-month waiting list but was able to squeeze me in as a favor for a friend. He charged $290 an hour and he wanted me on the table for two hours. This was too expensive but our family friend intervened and said she really felt that I needed to see this doctor and that the Lord told her to pay for my entire treatment! Praise the Lord.
After pulling and prying my body, he discovered that many of my muscles had “switched off” due to overcompensation so he “turned them back on” through multiple pressure points and massaging of the muscles. I found out that you can work a muscle as much as you want but if it is “switched off” no amount of physiotherapy will help. After being on the table for two hours he says to me, “alright, stand up and walk.” I felt like he was Jesus when he said to the man, “pick up your mat and walk”. I for the first time was able to bend my knee and walk! I was still in a lot of pain but at least I could move my leg! He decided I had torn my MCL and my patella ligament, which would both heal on their own with no surgery!
The next day I headed up to Toronto for their young adult conference, Heavy Rain. On the Friday night I was lying on the floor bawling my eyes out crying out to the Lord, “WHY HAVE I NOT BEEN HEALED LORD, PLEASE HEAL MY KNEE!!” It had been a long six weeks extremely hard too! Not being able to walk properly and move my knee was so difficult!
The next day a young guy approached me and he had torn his MCL a few days before but someone had prayed for him and he was 50% better, he asked me if he could lay hands on my knee. I of course said yes! It was feeling a bit better but I couldn’t bend it without a lot of pain. As Jonathan David and Melissa Helser were leading worship I just really felt the urge to dance. I stepped out in faith and began to dance, jump, and run around! WITH NO PAIN!!!
The Lord had completely healed me! It has been over a week now and I am still 100% healed with no pain in my leg or knee whatsoever! The Lord is faithful and true even when we feel like there’s no hope and there’s no end to the pain and when will I ever be healed! All in his perfect timing and his perfect will! He works all things together for our good!
My Injury and Healing