I remember walking down the hall, heading back to class in Candler’s Rita Anne Rollins Building, when I saw it.

It was the spring of 2019, and at the time if you’d asked me why, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you, but as I walked down the hall I saw out of the corner of my eye a piece of paper that immediately caused me to stop and take notice. That piece of paper was a flyer from the World Methodist Evangelism Institute (WMEI), which is housed at Candler. As I stood there looking at it, I was captivated by the words “SRI LANKA” printed in front of the Sri Lankan flag. There was nothing particularly distinct about it—there were even other places listed—but as I forced myself to pull away from the flyer and go back to class, I never expected that my life was about to be transformed in a way that I never would have imagined and (honestly) am still processing.

Traveling to Sri Lanka was my first time leaving the United States, and the fact that I was going ALL THE WAY to the other side of the world was an exciting yet disconcerting thought! I remember the moments leading up to the trip. I was not my “best” self to say the least. I was a hurricane of emotions. My best friend, who drove me to the airport, and my mentor, who heard my anxiety over the phone, got to experience the beauty of a Keith Alexander overload of emotions. Yet, once I got out of my own head, settled to trust God, and allowed myself to be shaped by the entirety of this unknown experience, the journey began and I’m so much better for it.

Howard Thurman once said, “Community cannot for long feed on itself; it can only flourish with the coming of others from beyond, their unknown and undiscovered brothers.” In Sri Lanka, I had the opportunity to meet and connect with some truly phenomenal people who are doing the work of forging an interfaith community, connecting with those who would be their unknown and undiscovered brothers and sisters. The constant reiteration that occurred concerning their community dealt with the importance of building relationships. There was a strong emphasis placed on understanding the personhood of an individual beyond the classification they are identified by, as well as the value that serves towards the flourishing of the Sri Lankan community.

Having the opportunity to listen and hear the stories of these individuals helped me to come to a better understanding of the call that God has placed upon my life. As one who is called to facilitate the coming together of all God’s people regardless of race, class, ethnicity, gender, linguistic barriers, or whatever constructs we may use in divisive ways, I was greatly inspired. In Sri Lanka, I had the opportunity to witness God’s spirit move beyond the border of my own comfortability and the borders I thought would be a challenge to overcome. I had the opportunity to preach in a Sri Lankan church that only spoke Tamil and required me working with a translator for the first time. I also had several opportunities to lead in prayer, worship, and offering words of thanks to some of the Sri Lankan leaders speaking there too.

This trip was nothing short of amazing! I remember being in prayer one day when I heard God say, “Never forsake your calling for comfortability.” I was completely outside of my comfort zone in Sri Lanka, but I made a conscious decision not just to trust God, but to allow myself to go through the process He had for me in this new context. Having done so, I found countless opportunities being placed before me, and with each one, I received even more understanding of the call God has for me.

Thinking back to that day when I stopped and saw the flyer for the Sri Lanka Travel Seminar, I didn’t know why I was so captivated by it, but now I do. That day marked the moment I would allow God to lead me into the unknown, despite my discomfort, to answer the call beyond borders.