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Becoming an Ambassador

Becoming an Ambassador

SEPTEMBER 7, 2020    |    3.5 MINUTE READ
KATELAND VERNON 


In July 2018, Jessica Handwork traveled to Albania for a week-long trip. She knew Nathan and Cydil Waggoner, World Gospel Mission global workers, before traveling to Albania, but the week she spent there cemented their friendship. She got along well with the Waggoners and knew that their children were sure to be fast friends. She felt God stirring something in her heart and began dreaming of future trips where she could bring her five sons to Albania with her.

Jessica Handwork in Albania with WGM Global Worker Cydil Waggoner and two team members from Jessica's church

WGM Global Worker Cydil Waggoner (left) and Jessica (second from right) with two other team members from Jessica’s church.

After her week overseas, Jessica returned to the United States. Back at home, she began brainstorming with Cydil about possible ministry opportunities for future trips back, and was even able to take a second trip by herself to explore some of the options. While planning what would be her third trip to Albania in the spring of 2020—this time with two of her sons—she was looking over their itinerary when the name “Valdete Trust” jumped out at her. The Waggoners’ hadn’t mentioned the organization before, yet Jessica and her boys were scheduled to work with VT Albania. She began to wonder if God had moved the Waggoners to connect them with this organization for a reason.

As she asked about VT, Jessica learned that the organization provides for the physical, social, and educational needs of people with disabilities. More broadly, though, it seeks to offer them a chance to flourish. The organization works to create a safe place where people with disabilities can be welcomed and accepted for who they are, an opportunity that isn’t typical in Albanian culture. It became clear to Jessica that this was indeed a divine appointment.

Jessica’s middle son, Seanan, had been diagnosed with Noonan Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy. At the age of fifteen, he had already undergone eleven different surgeries to help him live life more independently. Jessica thought VT would be a perfect chance for Seanan to interact and do ministry in a context where he could relate.

While discussing the possibilities for involvement with VT, Cydil had shared their plans for the ministry center that was currently under construction. The center would be the future home of VT, along with other ministries, and Cydil shared that the only way for the members of the organization to reach the upper floors was to use a stair climber, which could be a time-consuming—not to mention frightening—experience. To eliminate these issues, the ministry team was working to raise funds for an elevator. The word “ambassador” kept coming to Jessica’s mind, and when she mentioned it to Cydil, the idea of finding ambassadors to raise awareness for the VT ministry in America was born. Jessica immediately began to wonder if perhaps Seanan could fill such a role.

Students at the Valdete Trust, sitting around tables outdoors, waiting for lunch.

Students at the Valdete Trust prepare for lunch outside.

Jessica showed this video of someone using the stair climber to Seanan and suggested he consider becoming an ambassador for the ministry. Seanan was interested in the center but wasn’t sure yet whether or not he was supposed to get involved. Later that day, though, he stumbled across a video of someone who shared his testimony and said, “You can be an ambassador.” There it was again: the word “ambassador.” Seanan knew God was using this video to tell him to step out and help.

When Seanan decided to become an ambassador for VT, his goal was primarily to help them raise the funds for the elevator they desperately needed. He understands the challenges of navigating spaces that aren’t handicap-accessible and can champion the cause of VT’s members in a unique way. God provided in miraculous ways. Seanan’s goal was to raise the $25,000 needed for the elevator by the end of July 2020. Instead, his Lift Us Up campaign raised all of the funds within just one month!

Seanan’s plans to advocate for VT extend far beyond raising the funds for this elevator. He wants to help the students have opportunities to go on field trips to places they’ve never been able to visit, such as museums, the coast, and the mountains. Most of them have only ever seen the world as it passes by the windows of their mode of transportation from their house to VT and back. Seanan wants to help broaden the world for these students and allow them to access locations that are so close and yet have been out of reach for them for so long.

One week in Albania led to a lifelong connection to the country for the Handwork family. God used Jessica’s heart for Albania to stir a similar passion in Seanan. He had a plan to use Seanan as an ambassador not just for VT, but for His kingdom, long before Jessica ever traveled to Albania. He was preparing their hearts and using the many challenges they’d faced in a way that would lead to an impact that would extend far beyond what they ever could have imagined.

Seanan Handwork

God had a plan to use Seanan as an ambassador not just for VT, but for His kingdom, long before Jessica ever traveled to Albania.

ACTION STEPS

PRAY: Does God keep bringing a certain word or ministry to mind? Are you discovering surprising connections that you hadn’t noticed before? Like Jessica, you might sense the Lord is at work, even if you’re not quite sure what He has planned. Seek Him in prayer, asking Him to make it clear what He is asking of you.

GO: Jessica’s original plan was just to spend a week in Albania. As a result, she formed a bond with the culture and the people there. She has already returned once and hopes to continue traveling there frequently. If you want to learn how you can form similar bonds and make a lasting impact on others, get in touch with us at www.wgm.org/get-involved.

GIVE: The elevator is funded, but Seanan still has big plans as he continues to advocate for the VT ministry! Help him raise support for the ongoing operations of the organization, as well as field trips both large and small, at www.accessalbania.org. With your help, VT can continue to provide people with disabilities a space for growth, learning, and acceptance.


Author Bio: Kateland Vernon works at WGM headquarters as a writer and editor. She spends her free time organizing her kitchen, playing video games with her husband, and hanging out with her nephews.

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