“I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields- along with persecutions- and in the age to come, eternal life.” – Mark 10:29-30

Growing up in the Midwest city of St. Louis, Missouri, I had the typical dreams of a young, free child. I loved animals so I naturally wanted to be a Veterinarian. Then I hit the boy band phase of my life and loved the idea of working with celebrities- so I decided I wanted to be an Entertainment Lawyer instead. I took dance classes all throughout high school for fun and never thought twice about my future. My parents never forced my sister and I into their dreams for our lives in hopes that we would create our own dreams one day. While I believe it is important to figure out what suites your life the best, I also believe people need to be spurred on towards greatness in one way or another. I guess you can say I was not a very ambitious person growing up. As a result, I continued throughout high school with no vision for my life except to go to college. When that chapter came, I decided I wanted to study Biology and considered going into Dentistry. There was no solid reason why I wanted to major in this, but I thought it would be a good profession. When I started my courses, my grades told me this was not the field for me! So my mom researched fields that suited my personality- social, outgoing, relatable, and she came across public relations! That became my new major and I loved it! It was exactly what I wanted to do in my life. Little did I know, God had a much bigger dream for me.

I graduated with my degree in public relations, and in the same year of 2011, I studied the Bible and became a true disciple of Jesus! I remember as a young disciple, I planned a sleepover with the sisters and voluntarily led a group quiet time the next morning. My discipler was so impressed by the discussion that she allowed me to share my lesson at a women’s Bible Talk! It was such an amazing experience to share the word of God in a public place as a young Christian. But I never considered the ministry, though God was definitely planting seeds. Still chasing after my own dream, I got a full time position at a small public relations and marketing agency for a major Broadway company in Chicago. I joined the Singles ministry and started discipling women for the first time. One year later, I was asked to move to San Francisco to be part of the mission team! After a few weeks of wrestling with God and learning how to be surrendered with His plan for my life, I humbly said “Yes!”, quit my job, packed my bags, sold everything, and flew to San Francisco.

The first two years of the church planting were by far the hardest times in my walk with God. Though the good times outweighed the bad, I saw friends and leaders I looked up to walk away from God and heroes in the faith become bitter. Still, I remembered God’s promise for me in Jeremiah 29:11 that His plan was to prosper me and not to harm me. In the back of my mind, I knew something great was about to happen in San Francisco because Satan was attacking it so violently. My faith was shaken, but instead of turning away from God, I clung to Him. With very little ministry training, I filled in the gaps of leadership and started co-leading the Berkeley ministry while working a secular job. I learned so many lessons that year, but the biggest lesson I thought God taught me was that the ministry was not for me! I fought hard for my faith and for the faith of others. I had never cried so much in my life! Every prayer was a cry out to God for help. Meanwhile, I wasn’t liking my job and wanted to look into other avenues of public relations. I was back to square one- no dreams, no vision. But I never lost hope. Psalm 37:4-5 says “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this.” Many women look to this scripture when it comes to finding love, but I looked to this scripture to remind me of my purpose and it drew me closer to God. To “delight” means having a strong feeling of happiness, great pleasure or satisfaction. For a while I had lost that feeling, but I was determined to get it back! I fought for my times with God and made it my mission to no longer let my circumstances effect my walk with God.

A year later, I moved back to San Francisco from Berkeley. My parents in the faith moved across country, and I, again, was back to square one with no direction. The church was under new leadership, I was now working in retail, and still had no visions. Why was God always bringing me back to this place? One night, after a very moving Staff lesson by Jason Dimitry, we were all challenged to dream for God’s kingdom again. In tears I expressed how I never was taught how to dream- I didn’t know what that looked like and it always frustrated me. It seemed like everyone had a dream and vision for my life except for me. Soon after that, Jason and Sarah Dimitry sat me down and read to me Hebrews 5:1. Reflecting back on everything, I realized that for the past 3 years I had been running from God’s call for my life the whole time. From the very beginning God had been determining the times and places in my life, and He would keep bringing me back to square one until I was completely surrendered. Acts 17:26 doesn’t stop being applicable after you become a disciple. From studying communication and writing in college, to my experiences from my secular jobs, to the life lessons that exposed my weaknesses through my leadership, as well as my relationships, God was trying to show me that His plan for my life was actually the ministry- and even scarier, it was to be a Women’s Ministry Leader! Never in my wildest dream would I have thought I would be declaring those words. I learned I had to face my fears of the ministry, which was mainly the fear of not living for myself anymore. I had to look past myself and my own desires and insecurities and see a dying, lost world. The Kingdom of God needs Women Ministry Leaders. There are 196 countries in the world and thousands of cities that need godly leadership. There are too many talented women in the Kingdom who are just like me and want to run from their calling and bury their talents in the world for comfort and selfishness. Mark 10:29-30 has come true in my life in more ways than I could have imagined! My life is full, I have peace and happiness, I am growing in my faith, and I am challenged daily. Not only that, God has been so faithful to give me an opportunity to now be full-time in the ministry as a Region Leader alongside my amazing boyfriend!

I hope this article inspires people to not be afraid to dream and to overcome the fears of the ministry. God wants leaders who are tried and true. I truly believe if I can do it, anyone can. If God has put it on your heart to be in the ministry or if the leaders in your life have told you that you have the talent to be in the ministry, don’t ignore it! Believe in yourself, have faith in God, and stay focused on the lost world!

All for Him,

Sheila Bell