Many years ago God called me to change the world. I didn't know what it meant or how it was going to happen, but He called me and gave me a heart for the world. Over the years I let the enemy inform my view of myself as a woman in the church and I came to believe that my role in changing the world would be generally supportive. I would stand behind the man who would take me overseas and be the world changer and God would see my role. This fit well when immediately after college I married my college boyfriend who was in his second year of medical school and also had a heart for missions. Fast forward five years and my world fell apart when my "doctor who was going to take me out to change the world" came home one night and told me he wasn't meant to be married and it was over. He left and I was shattered. I questioned my calling and I questioned God's plan.
Thankfully God had put me in a teaching job that I absolutely loved and surrounded me with family and friends who loved and supported me. While driving to church one night to meet up with the youth group for which I volunteered, I cried out to God and He clearly spoke to me. God told me, "Erica, the plans I have for your life are the plans I have for YOUR life." I understood that God had given me specific abilities that He would use to do big things. I understood that my specific skills were useful and God gave me those skills for a particular reason.
So, I focused on my job that I loved. I poured myself into my students at Mt. Diablo High School and God brought amazing joy to my life. I met and married Bryan, the most amazing man I've ever known - a man who loves and affirms me, and serves God in all aspects of his life. With a flexible teacher’s schedule and Avery Pratt’s (my super incredible amazing Dad!) connection with Extollo International, we decided to head to Haiti in the summer of 2011.
I put my skills to work assessing some of the students in training who were building the La Gonave Children’s Village (and Bryan dug a lot of holes)! We went back in the spring of 2012 to help with the administrative side of things and experienced a little bit more of life in Haiti.
This past Spring, Avery asked us to join him for two weeks to kick-off masonry training at Extollo’s new training center in Bercy. I spent two weeks teaching men how to build seismically sound masonry structures, while serving God with one of my greatest heroes, my Dad. I was able to apply my God-given skills and passion as a teacher to offer another perspective on training and to encourage some of Extollo’s graduates to realize their God-given potential, to become teachers and leaders themselves. All the while, I experienced the joy of working alongside my two favorite men in the whole world - my husband and my Dad - doing our little part to change the world.
God began a good work in me many years ago, and He created me specifically for this amazing work. He is carrying that work on to completion through a path He laid out for me. This past trip to Haiti has reignited my passion for the world and created valuable new connections that I’m eager to see unfold. God is using me to change the world in the Bay Area, but He is also using my specific skills and abilities to raise up Haiti and through Extollo International, help Haitians rebuild on a better foundation.
By Erica Shaw
Extollo Volunteer and Instructor