I wrote a column a few weeks ago about specific dates that stick in my mind. The first one I recalled was May 19, 2014 — the day I started working here at the Wilmington News Journal. I wrote about how a lot can happen in a year, and then I mentioned the second date, which was April 11, 2015.
A few folks approached me after the column printed asking me what happened on April 11 and wanting to know what the next column would be about.
So here it is.
This goes out to my readers — the people who have stayed interested in my ridiculous escapades and philosophical dronings, and the people who have inspired me to keep writing by showing their support in words, comments and likes.
In December of last year, my friend Nate was picking me up from taking the SAT test in Beavercreek. My car was in the garage at home with some vital part missing (per usual), and I was trying to increase my test score so I could begin the college application process.
We were on our way to Cajun Ming, my favorite pseudo-Chinese restaurant at the Fairfield Commons Mall, when Nate looked over at me and asked, “What do you think about going to Asia to be a missionary?”
He had taken a 10-month missions trip to Asia in 2013 after joining up with a ministry that sends young people to share the Gospel with college students there.
Ever since I started working at the News Journal, people have told me I’m “going places.” I don’t mind saying I’ve even been referred to as a prodigy.
So I politely told Nate that I wasn’t interested, thank you very much, and to try some other fresh-faced kid one year out of high school.
Somehow — and this part is hard to explain — despite my skepticism, within seven days I found myself with a burning need to find out more about the Asia trip.
By early April, I was in the car on the way to New York with my buddy Bobby to attend a five-day orientation.
April 11th was a Saturday. It was the second-to-last day of the camp, and our whole group was doing a sample Asian underground church at a local woman’s home. We were all gathered in the living room, about 30 of us total, sitting on couches and on the floor. It was very authentic and genuine — something I’ve come to realize I need.
Despite an awesome few days, I had quietly decided I was going to pursue other opportunities.
One of the leaders, whose missionary code name is Jay-Z (his wife’s code name is Beyonce), gave a short talk on what it means to surrender our lives to Jesus.
I think that term gets thrown around a lot in the American church today. People can easily say “I’ve surrendered to the Lord’s will!” and, when times get hard, break like a frozen cheese stick.
Jay-Z said true surrender to God means taking a secondary position in your life and letting Him take complete control. No arguments, no reservations — simply saying, “I am nothing; you are everything. Lead, and I will follow.”
Of course, you have to stick with it, too. It’s not a decision you can just make once and be golden for the rest of your life.
That sounded difficult. It sounded scary. It sounded weird. It sounded unpleasant. And, I’ve come to learn, it is all of those things and more.
I decided it wasn’t for me.
However, since God has a unique way of changing peoples’ minds at exactly the right time, on the night of April 11, 2015, He reached out of heaven, opened my eyes, and spoke directly to me about what the next ten months of my life will look like.
Here’s how it went down: Everyone in the room circled up to pray for each other. Jay-Z prayed for a few of the other pre-missionaries, then walked over and began praying for me.
What happened next wasn’t the “voice of God” or a bright light from heaven.
It was a simple, quiet, yet powerful sense that I was deeply and fully known. Then, it was a gushing, pounding wave of grace, peace and understanding.
It was God.
Eventually, I realized what He wanted out of me that evening. He wanted everything.
He didn’t demand it or drag it out of me. There was no pressure. There was only love, and the question: “Will you follow me?”
So I decided I’m not just David Wright. I am a soul traveling to eternity. I am a wandering spirit inside of a temporary body that will one day turn back into the dust from which it was created. One day, my soul will travel through gates of splendor to meet my Maker, my Father and my Friend.
On April 11, I decided it’s no longer worth it for me to keep living a life centered around what David Wright the human wants or feels. I decided to put God at the center of my years on earth and let everything I do revolve around Him.
Friday, July 17, marks my last day at the News Journal. It’s been a thrill, and I’ve had the time of my life.
Now, I’m on to new adventures. One month from now, I will be on a plane headed to Asia to be a missionary for ten months.
If you need to reach me or have questions about my mission, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to talk with you.
‘Til next time!
David Wright is a contributing columnist for the Wilmington News Journal. He can be observed on Instagram @DavidWrighter.