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“Wherever you lead”

When I was a new believer at First Free Will Baptist Church in Hot
Springs, we would sing that good old hymn, “Wherever you lead, I’ll go”.
I sang that song with my whole heart. Willing to go into the great
unknown. Excited at the adventures You had for me! At 18 You called me to
GO to AFRICA!!!! My heart again raced with anticipation!!! Going anywhere
with You was an adventure that I was excited to go on.

Off to Bible College to be prepared with the skills I needed to GO!
Africa bound!!! Then in my Junior year I signed up for summer missions. I
got 3 choices: 1. Africa, 2. Africa, 3. AFRICA. Just incase they had
doubts about God’s call on my life.

I remember driving back to the dorm from work, and a friend ran out to
meet me. “Cindy, you were accepted to go on summer missions!!!” (which
was HUGE since they usually only picked Seniors). My heart lepped for
joy. “I’m going to AFRICA!!!” Then the next words she said fell on my
heart like a ton of bricks. “They are sending you to Japan”

Japan??? What??? I want to go to Africa!!! God CALLED me to Africa!!!???

God’s leading isn’t always what we think it will be.

After the initial disappointment, I started getting ready for Japan.
Vivian Hersey taught me how to read the Japanese Kanji, eat with chop
sticks and sit on the floor on my feet. Her parents were missionaries in
Japan, so she was born and raised there. More Japanese than American.

My time in Japan was amazing! The believers were so quick to receive me,
even though I was a foot taller than any of them. I LOVED the people.
They were so sweet, kind, generous with their hearts. It took a long time
to earn their trust and come to know Jesus. But once they did, their
heart was completely committed.

Once I returned to America, my heart was drawn to Asian people. And after
I graduated I moved to Hawaii where 80% of the population are Asian. I
spent 12 years there, emerged in the lives of people who today I call my
friends and family.

I returned to Arkansas after a very difficult, heart-wrenching
experience. My heart was broken and worn out. I thot I was finished with
ministry. Africa was no where in my thots.

Then Josh McDowell came to our small town of Mena, Arkansas. I wasn’t
looking for a job, especially with a Christian ministry and especially
not in Texas. I hated Texas. My dad used to drag me there for family
reunions in August. And if you know anything about Texas, you do not want
to go to Texas in August, especially not in West Texas.

Josh’s manager asked me to be Josh’s assistant. My first thot was NO!!!
But I said, “I’ll pray about it” (which in my heart mean, no way in hell)

I asked my friends to “pray” with me. But I really wasn’t praying about
it… I had made up my decision NOT to go.

I had a dream… and in the dream God told me basically, “Go, this is not
the final place I have for you, but a stepping stone to where I want you
to be”. Again God led me there and I went.

God really used Josh and Dottie to minister to my hurting heart, help
heal the wounds of the bad experience I had in Hawaii. They helped
replace the lies and untruth with TRUTH and love! It WAS the best place I
could have been.

From there… at the age of 44, God took me to AFRICA!!! He called me to
Africa at 18, and 26 years later my feet actually touched the soil of

I remember being in the airplane about to land into Nairobi… a woman
behind me began to sing praises to God in Swahili. I wept.

God’s ways of leading aren’t always like we imagine….

One year later, God lead me to quit my job and start Village of Hope

God used 26 years to prepare me for leading a ministry in Africa. I know
now, if I had gone to Africa immediately after I graduated I would have
done more harm than good. God needed to refine me, teach me, show me the
need for grace so I could give grace. Teach me that wisdom really does
come from Him. That my strength is so inadequate, I need Him to give me
the power to do what He called me to do.

Nope, His way of leading is nothing like I imagined… but it is better.

Now, after 2 brain surgeries to remove brain tumors, Menengitis, having
part of my skull removed and then replaced and a constant struggle with
seizures, and a complete hysterectomy and gall bladder surgery in one
week. I think… Lord, this isn’t the “where” I was thinking you would
take me.

It is exciting to go “Wherever you lead” when it is an adventure. But
what if the “where” is a road of medical problems? Cognitive problems due
to brain damage from brain surgeries, Menengitis and seizures?

That “where” isn’t as adventurous or appealing.

Will I still sing that song with all of my heart? His way of leading and
His “where” is not always what we imagine…

“Take up thy cross and follow me,”
I heard my Master say;
I gave my life to ransom thee,
Surrender your all today.

Wherever He leads I’ll go,
Wherever He leads I’ll go,
I’ll follow my Christ who loves me so,
Wherever He leads I’ll go.

He drew me closer to His side,
I sought His will to know,
And in that will I now abide,
Wherever He leads I’ll go.

It may be through the shadows dim,
Or o’er the stormy sea,

I take my cross and follow Him,
Wherever He leadeth me.



For the sake of the children,

Cindy Cunningham