Why I’m Doing Mission Year: Dani Hobbs
Ever since traveling to Europe in 6th grade, I’ve considered myself a bit of a hopeless wanderer. I’m fairly restless, and am always itching for a new place to go. It’s not until recently, however, that I realized I’m not a hopeless wanderer; I’m actually a hope-filled wanderer, because I am a follower of Christ. God has blessed me with the ability to travel, and it’s been amazing following him and finding him in different corners of the globe.
Last summer, God brought me to the Dominican Republic. Armed with a camera, long skirts, and Google Translate, I set out on my newest adventure. My time there was full of mangoes, laughter, praising Dios… and three nights in a hospital. When I first found out I was being admitted to a hospital in a foreign country– whose language I clumsily stumbled through- I cried. As my sobs seeped past my bronchitis-choked lungs, I wondered if it was time for me to stop this adventure and head home. However, as my crying subsided, I began to feel washed over by a wave of peace. Suddenly, instead of fear and anxiety, I started to get excited. I realized that wherever God is working hard, Satan is working hard as well. I was getting knocked down, but God was whispering to me that it was only because something big was going to happen.
At the time, I thought that whatever it was God was telling me was coming would probably happen when the big U.S. mission team arrived a couple weeks later. However, the team came and went, and nothing huge seemed to happen. In fact, the mission team made me feel disillusioned with the organization I was working for. After starting school in the fall, things happened between myself and the organization that made me realize I no longer wanted to be a part of it. My decision to quit left me feeling confused. I knew it was the right choice, but why had God told me to stay in the DR, then not have anything happen? I came into college hoping to be involved with missions after graduating, but now, in my last year of college, I was turning my back on an opportunity I had been waiting so long for.
For a while, it felt like God had ripped the floor out from under me. Looking back, I realize that he actually had pulled the floor from under me, but he placed a cushion in the form of a global sociology course there to catch me. Through my class, I began to see the way the world is connected. I started to learn about colonialism and other oppressive processes, and began to see the way the Church and missions has been connected to it all. I spent the semester writing a paper about the connection between mission work and colonialism and neocolonialism, and through it I discovered liberation theology. Liberation theology switches the script on how Christianity as an institution has acted for so long. It uses the Bible, and specifically the life of Jesus, to stand with the oppressed against injustice, rather than standing with oppressors as it has historically done.
After finishing up my semester and my paper, I headed home for break and realized that graduation was rapidly approaching… and I had no plans for what I would do next. After spending a few days scouring the internet trying to figure out what to do with my life, I threw up my hands in abandon…God would have to take over from here. Then, as he tends to do when we finally relinquish control to him, God dropped something right in my lap: the Christian Community Development Association.
As I read through the values of the CCDA, I began to cry; it was as if the vision I had formed through my paper was staring back at me through their site. As I explored their site further, I stumbled across an organization called Mission Year. As I looked into Mission Year online, and then visited their team in Philly, I knew that it is where I belong next. When it came to deciding if I should apply or not, just like that day in the hospital, my fear and anxiety toward the future turned into peace.
So, why do I want to do Mission Year? It’s because I don’t have much of a choice. I can either follow God, or forge my own plan. Looking back on my time in the DR, I now realize that I had to stay there in order to reevaluate my personal views, which sent me on this new path toward justice and standing in solidarity with the oppressed. When it came to deciding whether or not I should stay in the DR, I knew the choice was clear, and the choice remains just as clear to me now. The road in front of me isn’t always easy and doesn’t always make sense, but I have chosen to follow Jesus, and this hope-filled wanderer refuses to turn back.
Image Credit: Death to the Stock Photo
Dani Hobbs is a 2017-18 Houston team member. Originally from Bridgewater, NJ, she attended Ithaca College. Check out her donation page for more information!