Called to Stay: An invitation to IF Local Atlanta

Photo Credit: Jennifer Upton Photo Credit: Jennifer Upton[/caption]

I was not yet sixteen when I officially heard the call. I don’t remember what the message was. I was sitting next to a boy that I was hoping thought I was cute that particular Sunday. How could I possibly listen to anything the pastor was saying? But I heard the call, the altar call. The call for those who had heard THE CALL, and I walked from one of the back pews to the front of the church, tears streaming down my face, Here I am Lord being sung by the congregation. I wasn’t just going to be a missionary, I was called to be one.

I became a high school English teacher by accident really. Being qualified to teach English makes you employable pretty much anywhere in the world. So, I majored in English education, and despite that fell in love with the profession. But I assumed I would go.

People who do big things for God, they go. He calls; they go.

I already had my house picked out in the perfect Indianapolis neighborhood, when a man we did not know stood up at the front of our college church and said that some of us were called to Atlanta. I looked at Christian and he looked at me. A week later we were telling everyone that we were called there. God called, and we went.

That is what people who do big things for God do. He called; we went.

If it weren’t for a car accident (where miraculously everyone is safe) in Tennessee, I would have been refreshing my browser like a maniac to get tickets for the IF: Gathering last Monday. The day it was announced I told everyone who might get me a present, it was all I wanted for Christmas. Just get me to Austin. God was moving, I could tell. I could hear Him in this, and I wanted in.

This is what people who do big things for God do. He was calling; I was going.

The tickets sold out in forty-two minutes while I was waiting on a rental car in LaFollette Tennessee. But my story sisters were renting a house. I could still go to Austin, I could still be in on it. People who do big things for God don’t worry about the cost of a flight.

This is what people who do big things for God do. He calls; They go.

It would be easier to go. I have shown these women in story sessions my whole heart. They still love me. I trust them. I long for the day I can see some of them face to face. A lot of them will be in Austin for the IF gathering. These ladies are my tribe. If they are all going to be somewhere, that is where I want to be.

But this time, God isn’t calling me to go. He is calling me to stay.

If I am honest with you, staying is a whole lot scarier. Instead of joining like-minded women whom I already love, I am offering to lead an IF local. I am opening up my house and inviting you (like literally you) to come sit on my coffee stained couch and watch the IF gathering stream live onto a sheet I am going to hang from the wall.

I know my politics and theology don’t always line up with yours. I know some of you are struggling with who Jesus is and how He fits into your life. I know I have big feelings about big ideas and I am a total disaster sometimes. But I want us to be sisters-in-Christ. The real kind. Not the “let me say that because I just said something totally rude but true so lets pretend it was in love” kind. I want us to do little things that are big things because God is big and God is love. I want us to sit together and weep together and learn to love each other so that we can really love our city, together, in spite and because of our differences.

Sometimes, God calls people to stay.

God called me to Atlanta. He has broken my heart for this city a million times over. Now He is calling me to stay. I don’t know what you think about women in the ministry, or how to raise your children. I don’t know how you interpret the Bible or what you think about the word feminist. I just know that God is love, and Atlanta needs some more of that. I know that God has called me to stay that weekend, and I hope you will join me.


Registeration for IF local is currently open and pay what you can. They were serious about this thing being accessible to everybody. Sign up and then leave a comment on here or email me that you are coming. I will email everyone my adress in January. If we get too big for my house, I will let God solve that problem for us. This is His show anyway.

21 thoughts on “Called to Stay: An invitation to IF Local Atlanta

  1. I’m in. put it on my calendar already…and i’m not even a calendar kind of person….but i’ve had to become one recently….no brain cells left to remember dates. don’t wanna for get this one, so i put it in the calendar =) (just in case i lose my calendar….remind me!)

  2. Abby,
    I am proud of you. Choosing to serve instead of serving yourself. I could not tell if your mom was commenting on you or herself. Perhaps a comma was missing. :).

  3. I too became an English teacher by accident. I failed my grammar class in middle school. I hated literature in high school. Now I teach it. Go figure. Anyways, I so appreciate this post because, way back in 2010, as a 20-year old on a short-term mission trip to Papua New Guinea, I decided I was going to be an English teacher so that I could go back to Papua New Guinea and teach at a school there. After finishing university in 2011, God wasn’t providing the money I needed to go and I was desperately questioning whether He was really calling me to go, or if He was calling me to stay. Even though I’m now living and teaching in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (a place that I think I was born for… its perfect), I still believe that there is just as much of a need for Christian teachers in the public (and private) schools of America. If my time here comes to a close, I will wholeheartedly jump back into teaching in a public high school in Indiana (my home state) or wherever else God leads. Just because He has given me the opportunity to teach overseas, doesn’t make me better or more important than anyone else… its the same purpose, just a different place. And if we think the U.S. doesn’t need Christian teachers, we are sorely deceived. So I for one thank you for what you’ve chosen to do….and pray that God raises up more like you who are called to stay. Or rather, just more obedient teachers… who go or stay as they are called! Keep on keeping on!!!


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