Austin and Laura
From: Matthews, North Carolina
Arrived in the Dominican: September 4, 2017
Current Financial Support Level: 95%
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Freedom International Ministries, Inc.
2905 E 46th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46205
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As a child I grew up in a Christian home with parents that were constantly pursuing a personal relationship with Jesus. My dad worked in the church and my mom stayed home with four kids. They taught us to glorify God in everything that we said and did. I knew a lot about Jesus and the Bible growing up, but it wasn’t until I was about nine years old that I realized my parents had something that I was missing. That something was Jesus. I understood that I needed Jesus and needed to fully trust God with my life. Although I was young, the gospel of salvation was so exciting. I did not deserve Jesus because I was a sinner, but God sent His Son to die on a cross to take the burden of my sins away. God forgave me and adopted me as His child.
The implications of my salvation began to take root over the next several years of my life. The summer after seventh grade I became heavily involved with an organization called Mission Serve. Through serving others with Mission Serve my love for God and other people multiplied. In high school I was a three sport athlete and I was the leader of FCA. God placed me in a position to have a major impact on the lives of my teammates and classmates. My mission was to be a godly example and share His love and grace with all those around me.
As a senior, I applied to NC State University knowing that is where I was going to go. However, even with a great GPA, good test scores, and a solid application I was deferred and then declined acceptance. I was so confused, but through a series of events, God led me to a college that I didn’t even know existed: Wingate University. I went to study religion and Spanish and be a member of the cross country and track teams.
I met my wife, Laura, in my senior year of high school. She was my sister’s roommate at Appalachian State University. On a Mission Serve trip in 2013 God revealed to me Laura’s servant’s heart and her love for Him. At that point I knew I was going to marry her and a few years later in November of 2015 we tied the knot. The first year of our marriage my life’s direction was so muddled. I did not know where God was leading me with a major in religion and a minor in Spanish. I was so confused that I even tried to add a second major to bring me some personal clarity. However, God knew the plans He had for me and I did not.
In the summer of 2016, after Laura and I came back from a Mission Serve project, our niece, Caroline Queen, came back from a month long internship with Freedom International Ministries. She was so excited and almost in tears telling us that we needed to go and experience God's work in the DR. We immediately decided to go and check it out for ourselves to see if this is where God was leading us. Yet in the meantime, we attempted to give ourselves answers rather than patiently waiting on God. However, after serving with Freedom for a week in January of 2017 and after many conversations with the Lord we knew that this was where God had been leading us the entire time. God is so good and we are so happy we can continue to serve him and make more disciples for Jesus with Freedom International Ministries!
I was raised in a Christian home, I grew up in the church, and I have known Jesus ever since I can remember. I am the baby of seven children, and I have two wonderful Christian parents who raised me with unconditional love. When I was in eighth grade I began to feel God working on my heart. I surrendered my life to Jesus and gave him complete control. Even though I knew Jesus my entire life, I never had that personal relationship. As a result of this major turning point, I began to follow Jesus more intimately.
I met my husband, Austin, in college, through my best friend/college roommate. It is because of Austin and his family that I got involved in mission trips over the summers. At this point I began learning about community, building relationships, and serving others in pleasure of serving our God. I never knew how exciting it was to serve the Lord and the blessing that follows it. Through these trips I found my personal walk with Jesus changing. I was drawn to him more and more and had a new desire to serve him.
Austin and I got married in 2015. He was a junior in college and I was in my second year of teaching. By his senior year we were exploring what our next steps in life would be. What would his job be? Would we have kids? Could I be a stay-at-home mom? Would we make enough money so I could stay home with kids? Would we move? There were many questions, and I felt so pressured to have them answered on my own terms. Well, God had other plans for us, and one thing he definitely wanted me to learn was patience. His timing is the best timing.
The summer of 2016, my niece Caroline did a summer internship with Freedom. After she returned, she came to Austin and me, passionately wanting us to at least visit Freedom for ourselves, if not to move there. Without hesitation, we said yes. That is when our lives changed. After personally experiencing Freedom, all my questions were answered. God opened our eyes to the next chapter of our lives.