Ashley Owens of July 2014’s second generation F Squad wasn’t looking for a change.
Serving as a children’s pastor at her church, she loved her job. She loved the people she worked with. She saw God at work in her, through her, in the ministry she served with. She was content.
Then one day she read a book she couldn’t put down.
A book called Dangerous*.
It challenged her to a lifestyle she didn’t realize she craved - one of abandonment and brokenness, of dependence, discomfort, and a different worldview. A lifestyle of complete, radical faith in the God she loved and served.
She tried to forget what she read.
In the back of the book was a list of suggested organizations to check out if the reader felt called to action. That’s how she found the World Race.
Ashley was 30 years old. She had every reason to stay.
But God had called her to go. He wanted to meet her in Ecuador.
Ashley spent the month in Quito serving with CAMP HOPE, where she worked with a class of boys ages 15-21 who have special needs - most of who had been orphaned. After the first day, she went home and wept. Her heart was broken. “It was as if a bomb had gone off in the deep core of my heart. I had felt broken for people before but this was a new level of brokenness. My heart was being broken for the least of these just like God’s heart breaks and spills out with love for those at CAMP HOPE and all over the world. He taught me about love on a whole new level.”
Then God asked her the watch the sunrise with him.
As color filled the sky and light chased away the shadows, Ashley sat in silence, waiting. When God spoke, it was quietly to her heart, specifically about what he was going to do in her life. It became one of the most defining moments of her Race, linked with the other times she’s been able to meet with him in the quiet of an early morning or a late night - just her and God. “Those moments can happen in your real life but are magnified on the Race because our hearts become raw with what he is doing. When you are far from your normal it is the perfect breeding ground of God multiplying what he wants to do in and through your life.”
And these moments have given Ashley something priceless.
“Before the Race, I understood my identity in Christ in a head type of manner, but now I understand my identity in him in the way of my heart. Because it has penetrated my being, I can live in a new level of freedom.”
That newfound freedom has come with a unique companion - vulnerability. Being in community, surrounded by her squadmates, has challenged her to be more open about her heart. Through sharing those deeper things with those around her, she’s seen the power of the Body of Christ encouraging, sharpening, and holding each other up - the way the church is supposed to be. “I’ve learned ministry looks different than we expect. Sometimes it’s a thing that is actually called ministry and then sometimes it’s just loving and partnering with what God wants to do in the lives he places around you.”
When ministry becomes a lifestyle… more than a job or something that is “done” during a certain set of hours, but how we live every second of every day, from waking up to going to bed, with every single breath - that is radical faith.
The kind of faith than can change the world.
In finding her identity in Christ in the way of her heart, Ashley has found something else:
- The power of vulnerability.
- The beauty of brokenness.
- The willingness to listen for the Lord’s voice.
Looks like Ashley has become dangerous.