My First Sermon in America

Having preached in 9 other countries, you’d think America wouldn’t be so intimidating.


I prepared for my sermon for hours and hours, way earlier on in the week. I recorded about 2 hours of me just rambling through thoughts, going off into prayer language tangents, coming back to English, points, scriptures, words to look up, passages to break down back to Hebrew… I listened to all that and took notes. Then I did it again. Nearly 2 hours of rambling, this time on track. Telling stories. Making jokes. Revising. Editing. Cutting back. Deciding what was appropriate. Choosing my transitions.

Then I listened to that. And from this, I had my rough draft sermon notes.

Three drafts later, I had my final notes.

I woke up the morning of the sermon, and in my brain, it sounded like my thoughts were in fast forward. It was like I was speaking in my head, but so fast, so so fast. I couldn’t even grasp one sentence. It was like an auction.

“Oh no. No no no no. No. Jesus, help a girl.”

I started getting ready for church, and the brain jumble went away. As I got ready and checked my phone, I was delighted by the messages. “I’m praying for you today and speak peace over you.” “Just wanted to tell you good luck this morning even though I know you don’t need it… Love you.” “Praying for you this morning! I pray his peace is over you and that it is not your words that are spoken but His 🙂 You’re gonna rock it, Helena!” “You’re gonna do so awesome!!” And it went on and on… that’s not even getting into all the sweet Snapchats haha.

Had I not been so focused, I know I would have probably cried over the sweetness and timeliness of that wave of encouragement. I am not alone in this. There’s an army around me.

When I got to the church, I felt confident. Not in myself, or my message, or my eloquence, but confident that the Lord was going to be faithful. He wasn’t going to waste the opportunity, the sacrifice, or the time.

The slides with all the scripture verses were ready. Of course, there were tons of them, and mostly OT. Duh. Hello, fiber. Love it. I wish I could make everyone fall in love with the OT, dry and all. It’s so rich and wild and funny and raw.

My friends started showing up. People who never come to this church, people who came for the first time to try it out, just to see me. In total, we had 91 people in attendance.

So now the picture is painted for you. The music began, the pastor’s video announcement cued me in, and I found myself with a live microphone attached to my cardigan, in front of an American congregation.

As I prayed, I said to the Lord that if He doesn’t move this morning, it would be just like any other morning. If He doesn’t speak through me, I’d just be a girl with a microphone, wasting my breath. But if He chooses to move, and if He speaks, then lives and families could change from here on out.

I gave the message. I didn’t get lost. My transitions, I was told, made sense. In the response in the end, many hands were raised, people vouching that parts of their legacy would end with them, and that new beginnings would start with them. Afterwards, I was approached by a LOT of people. I can’t even tell you how many, because I honestly don’t know. I got hugs and handshakes, and a man put a wad of cash in my hand (he tried to make it all hidden but my reaction ruined it haha), and I held a few hands while tears welled up in the eyes of people saying “that meant a lot to me” and “God showed me something I need to work on, thank you.”

That’s more reward than anything I could ever ask for. To know that the Lord moved, and brought some clarity to new layers of healing that need to take place. We are always healing. We are always being sanctified, purified, refined, and sharpened. Praise the Lord when He can bring to light a new construction zone of the heart. As for a recording, there should be one up soon. When I have the link, I’ll post it. 😉

I had a really sweet woman of God approach me and ask me if I’d be interested in being a resource to adoptive parents, teaching more on legacy and family. She said it really helped her to hear the message, and that other parents going through the process would benefit from that. I was floored, and humbled, and so so excited. I have a huge heart for adoption, and it’d be so amazing to learn more and be more involved with that community. This morning had that divine appointment for me! A new door opened.

doorNow that it’s over, that it’s behind me as a sweet memory, I know that this was training ground. It seemed like the biggest test, the biggest hurdle. Now I see that it was practice. Faith practice. Obedience practice. Am I willing to step in front of a congregation and not explain myself away, not shy away, not hesitate, not talk about ME, but completely yield to what God wants to do? Am I willing to set aside my capabilities, my limitations, my reasoning, and my qualifications, in order to make room for the Lord to push beyond my strength?

I got to practice that this morning. I had to shut off my thoughts and let Him continue to speak. It’s not about me. It’s not about my past, or the people in it. None of that matters. Whatever brokenness I walked through was simply so that a demolition could take place, and a rebuilding could begin. It’s the Lord’s work. I’m His girl. I’ll keep saying yes. I do. I will. He keeps putting speaking engagements in front of me, y’all. I accept. I receive. I don’t want recognition or fame or a spotlight. I just want to tell you what my God has done. I just want to honor my King.

A city on a hill cannot be hidden.

He tells me to rise and shine.

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