53:58 · April 4, 2023
Join Jim Lovelady in this episode as he interviews Serge missionary, Taylor Morris. They explore Taylor’s journey of learning to truly rely on God’s promises rather than just acknowledging them intellectually, especially during times of profound unknowns—both on the mission field and in life. They discuss how following Jesus in ministry often exposes our weaknesses, but because God meets us in that weakness, it brings renewed joy and confidence in sharing His love with others.
Join Jim Lovelady in this episode as he interviews Serge missionary, Taylor Morris. They explore Taylor’s journey of learning to truly rely on God’s promises rather than just acknowledging them intellectually, especially during times of profound unknowns—both on the mission field and in life. They discuss how following Jesus in ministry often exposes our weaknesses, but because God meets us in that weakness, it brings renewed joy and confidence in sharing His love with others.
Thank you for listening! If you found this conversation encouraging or helpful, please share this episode with your friends and loved ones. Or please leave us a review—it really helps!
Our guest for this episode was missionary Taylor Morris. She serves on Serge’s team in Cusco, Peru, where she teaches English and disciples girls as part of a broader church-planting initiative.
𝑮𝒓𝒂𝒄𝒆 𝒂𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑭𝒓𝒂𝒚 𝑷𝒐𝒅𝒄𝒂𝒔𝒕 is produced by SERGE, an international missions agency that sends and cares for missionaries and develops gospel-centered programs and resources for ongoing spiritual renewal. Learn more and get involved at serge.org.
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Questions or comments? Feel free to reach out to Serge’s Renewal Team anytime at email@example.com
Welcome to the Grace at the Fray—a podcast that explores the many dimensions of God’s grace that we find at the frayed edges of life. Come explore how God’s grace works to renew your life and send you on mission in His kingdom.
Jim Lovelady 00:24 Hello, beloved! Welcome to Episode 5 of Grace at the Fray, where we explore how being renewed in the gospel propels us out on mission. Now, Christians acknowledge that the Bible is filled with God’s promises for us, like: He will always be with us; His salvation is complete; nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ. These and many more are the promises of God, and we can rely on them. Our lives are built around them.
You know that old hymn, Standing on the Promises of God?
Jim Lovelady 01:01 Yeah, that one. Well, my guest today is Taylor Morris. She is not just standing on the promises; she’s walking on the promises. She’s often running and sometimes wandering around on the promises of God. The Lord has taken her on a wild ride. She has most recently been serving with a Serge team in Peru. And if you’ve been following the news regarding Peru lately, you can probably predict that this is going to be kind of a crazy story. But in the midst of all the craziness, there’s this one thing. She has been banking on the promises of God.
So, if you feel like your life looks a lot like a wilderness wandering, and you want to know where God is in all of that, and how to experience intimacy with Him, this episode is for you.
But let me offer a little prelude to this conversation by reading Psalm 121 (NRSV)—not only because it’s a major part of this conversation, but also because it’s very appropriate for where you are in your life, and you might not even realize it. So find yourself in this psalm. Take a deep breath. This is God’s word:
I lift up my eyes to the hills—from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep your going out and you’re coming in
from this time on and forevermore.
Jim Lovelady 02:48 You brought green tea. No, it’s mint tea.
Taylor Morris 02:51 Menta muña.
Jim Lovelady 02:52 What’s muña?
Taylor Morris 02:53 So muña is the herb from the Andes mountains of Peru. And it’s specific to Peru, so it doesn’t grow here. And I’ve actually, in a few restaurants, been given the tea where it’s the actual herb that’s in there. It’s not a bag. But it’s really good for digestion. It’s a very earthy flavor, so it’s often paired with mint tea, which in Spanish is menta, just to kind of add a little extra flavor. But it’s really good for digestion. When you go to a lot of restaurants, specifically tourist ones, they’ll usually serve it to you after you’ve eaten.
Jim Lovelady 03:28 Like, “Hey, you need this.”
Taylor Morris 03:29 Yes, but it’s also great, and even just house to house, a lot of families that you visit and eat with, it’s very common for them to have this tea after they eat.
Jim Lovelady 03:39 Really? Well, I didn’t sweeten it because I like bitter, and I’m totally okay with bitter.
Taylor Morris 03:47 Yes, it’s not overly bitter. Like I said, it’s a very earthy flavor. If anything, it is slightly flavored water.
Jim Lovelady 03:54 Alright, here we go.
Taylor Morris 03:56 I’ve grown to like it. I’m interested.
[Jim takes a sip of the tea.]
Taylor Morris 04:03 Slightly flavored water.
Jim Lovelady 04:0 I thought it was going to be strong. Some mint teas can be really strong. No, this is really good. And I’m looking forward to having good digestion. I’m going to take some more of these home. There’s a bunch over there in the kitchen.
Taylor Morris 04:19 I’m glad.
Jim Lovelady 04:20 No one’s trying it. I saw it and was like, “Oh, I bet you Taylor…” So, who are you? Where have you been? Well, start earlier than that. Start from the beginning.
Taylor Morris 04:34 So I am Taylor Morris. I grew up in North Carolina near Asheville, which a lot of people have heard of. Hendersonville is my hometown. I consider Brevard my home because that’s where I went to college and created my first community as an adult—so I lived there my whole life for the most part. I always have had an interest in ministry and missions. I grew up in a Christian home; my parents are believers. And so I have my own journey of walking with God separate from them. But I always grew up in a Christian kind of environment. High School and on, I was very interested in overseas missions and ministry, but I never really had the opportunity. And it wasn’t like, “I have to do that.” It was just at any time it was mentioned I was like, “There’s something to learn of God here.” I always grew up hearing God is everywhere. God knows all things. God speaks all languages. But then there was always this part in my brain that was like, “But I’ve only experienced Him in this one. And so if He does these things, and He is this God, then what’s it like to experience Him in a language and a culture that is not mine?”
Jim Lovelady 05:47 It was like a holy curiosity.
Taylor Morris 05:49 Yes. That makes it seem very, yes, holy curiosity. But I was just like, “There’s gotta be something to see of God bigger than what I see here.” And then, in college, it got reignited. I was in a church that had a mission month, where there was another type of ministry coming and speaking every Sunday. And I heard about the 10/40 window, which refers to the degrees of latitude where countries within those latitude lines basically have not heard the gospel. They are unreached people groups, so they’re more closed off in more secure countries. And I was re-interested in it. So I started to officially pursue what it would look like to do ministry in another country. And that kind of led me on a journey of spending a few months in Costa Rica working with a ministry there. That changed my life and showed me that I knew absolutely nothing.
Jim Lovelady 06:46 And it has a way of doing that.
Taylor Morris 06:49 Yes, it does. And then (after I had graduated college), I came back and kind of just started to ask God, “I don’t know what that experience was. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But I’m back now. And I feel like I need to do it again.” And I started praying and moving through that with God, “I don’t know what to do with this. Other than that, I don’t think that was my last time doing that, whatever that was, ministry in another country.” So I began kind of looking and praying and very cautiously taking steps. And I lived in Brevard for two years as a teaching assistant while doing that, and eventually was led to Serge. One of the biggest things in my experience in Costa Rica was that I was discipled one on one for the first time. And growing up my entire life in a Christian community, I never really had someone intentionally being like, “I am discipling you. This is what this is;” it was obviously life-changing. And so Serge caught my eye from the beginning because someone was like, “This is an organization whose focus is on discipleship.” And realizing that we, as workers, need to be discipled in order to share the gospel with people; eventually, I started pursuing that. And I signed on as an apprentice, which is something that Serge does. It’s a two-year commitment to serve with an existing team somewhere, where they help you grow and foster what it looks like to do ministry in a country that is not your own. And it gives you that freedom, where two years is a long time, but it’s not the longest. It’s longer than a week-long mission trip.
Jim Lovelady 08:41 The freedom to explore what this could look like, not necessarily going, “I’m gonna go and do this.”
Taylor Morris 08:47 Exactly, yes. And so they give you those… like, you’re doing it along with people who have been doing it. They’re there to talk with you through that and pray with you through that. But you’re also doing hands-on ministry. So you’re not just watching from the sidelines. You’re getting to actively participate and decide, “Is this something God could be calling me to longer term? Or will this help me discern what else He’s leading me to?”
Jim Lovelady 09:14 So, was that in Costa Rica?
Taylor Morris 09:15 No, that’s what I’m doing now.
Jim Lovelady 09:17 Okay, so Peru was the first.
Taylor Morris 09:20 Peru was the first. That was in 2020 when I officially started talking to Serge and stepped into applying for this apprenticeship. And originally, you talk basically to a recruiter about different options. And the one that I kept going back to was a team in Peru. And originally, at this time, it was actually a different team that I was looking at, not the one I’m with now. But I started pursuing that, applied, got accepted, and began this process. So I spent a year support-raising. And last year, in January, it was ten days before I was supposed to leave for language school because the team I was joining did not offer language, so I needed to know Spanish. I did not know Spanish at the time. And so I was going to leave for language school, and about ten days before that, I got the call that the team I was going to join would no longer be viable. And I was like, “Okay, cool, cool, cool.”
Jim Lovelady 10:27 And thus begins the wilderness wondering.
Taylor Morris 10:30 Yes, yes. I love this. This feels very Peruvian to be drinking tea while I’m talking.
Jim Lovelady 10:35 Very earthy.
Taylor Morris 10:36 Yes, very earthy. And so yeah, I panicked, of course. But at the same time, just kind of felt this wrestling between the obvious response when everything you’ve been working towards for like a year and a half falls apart or seems like it’s going to fall apart; and this unexplainable peace, you could say, of God saying, “It’s not falling apart. Trust, believe, and have faith.” And so essentially, I took a very hard step of faith: “God, you didn’t close the door on language school. That is still open. That is still ready for me to go in 10 days. That’s still there. And I’m going to trust that You have a reason for that. And that You will just show me where I’m going. Show me this other team, whatever that is.” And so I got on a plane, January 1st of 2022, on New Year’s Day. I spent the night with my best friends. They threw a party for me, and we worshiped literally into midnight. It was great. And then I went to the airport the next day, very exhausted, and threw up in the airport because I was very nervous. That’s the beautiful side of ministry, filled with faith but also with anxiety.
Jim Lovelady 11:49 Puking faith everywhere.
Taylor Morris 11:50 Yes. And so I was like, “Okay, God, I’m doing it.” And it was actually a really beautiful moment. I think it was the first time in my spiritual journey that I was literally like, “God, my physical body is riddled with anxiety. But I need You to grab my spirit and pull me onto that plane because I know You’re doing something here.” And so I went to Costa Rica. And it was amazing learning a language. God had given me a psalm to sit with before I left, which was Psalm 121. And it was this moment right before I’d gotten this call about everything changing where I was driving up the [Blue Ridge] Parkway – I live near the forest. And so I was like, this is probably my last time going to the forest and getting to look at my Blue Ridge Mountains—this thing I love to do. And so I drove up the Parkway, sat on the top of my car, which I did pretty frequently, and just felt God saying, “Remind yourself of the promises of God.” We so often are telling ourselves to rest in those promises. And then, if someone were to ask you, “What are those promises?” I feel like we’d be like, “Um, um, um.” And so it’s just like, “Specifically look in the Bible for those promises that I’ve given you.”
Jim Lovelady 12:57 I love that one because you were talking about it when you were sharing at the prayer meeting earlier this week. You were talking about how you love the mountains. And then you said, “God gave me Psalm 121.” And I’m like, “I guess she’s going to lift her eyes to the mountains, and where does my hope come from? Or where does my help come from?” And so what I thought was beautiful about that is, that’s a poetic way of talking about, “I’m going to cling to the promises of God. I’m going to set about looking for the promises of God. Where does my help come from?” And then you started meditating on the rest of the psalm. So tell me more about that.
Taylor Morris 13:40 Yes. What I also like about that beginning, “I look to the mountains, where does my help come from?” is that it immediately reminds you that we need help. And it’s okay to be in that position. Because I think we so often are like, “I can do this, and I’m strong,” and it’s reminding ourselves that God isn’t asking us to be strong. He’s asking us to be honest that we need help and then to know where to go for it, which is Him. And that was helpful to me because I think in those moments, everyone wants you to be like, “Oh, you’re so brave, you’re so strong.” And I don’t have to be those things. I’m actually really struggling, but…
Jim Lovelady 14:22 I’m just here. Just show me.
Taylor Morris 14:23 I’m just here, and I need help. But I know where to go for my help. And so the rest of that talk about God basically saying, “He is with us, and He goes with us as far as the sea, as to the top of the mountains; from the east to the west, He’s with us through all of it.” Basically, we cannot escape His presence, which can be very scary and also can be very comforting. We are with You, and You are with us, and You will not abandon us. And He says, “I will not let your feet slip.” And I think in those moments, what’s happening is that it feels like your feet are slipping. It feels like you’re tumbling, and God’s saying, “That is not happening because you’re on solid ground. I am the solid ground.” And so He gave me the psalm to rest in His promises that He is with us and will go where He calls us to go. He is with us now, and He was with us then.” We are limited by time. He is not. He is omnipresent, right? And Him reminding us that, if He goes with us, wherever we go, it indicates He has a plan. He knows what’s happening.
Jim Lovelady 15:36 He’s not going to go where He doesn’t want to be taking you.
Taylor Morris 15:40 Exactly. Yeah. He’s not just like, “You go. And I’ll follow.”
Jim Lovelady 15:44 A comforting no-brainer!
Taylor Morris 15:46 Yes, yeah.
Jim Lovelady 15:48 Oh, right, yeah.
Taylor Morris 15:51 And so that was really helpful—as I was about to leave the country and didn’t know where I was going—to remind myself that God knows. He’s already there, and He’ll be with me there. So then I got to Costa Rica, and my host family that I would live with to learn Spanish picked me up from the airport, which I later found out was not normal. They don’t usually do that. But my host family wanted to. So they picked me up from the airport and took me to their house. And I realized three days later… I was in an exhausted blur and did not know Spanish. It’s very culturally shocking when you first land in a new place filled with all these things. I’d been to Costa Rica before, but not necessarily this part. And it’s different when you know you’re here for four months. But I later realized on my desk in my room was a little piece of paper that said Salmo 121. And it took me a day or two to realize Salmos meant Psalms.
Jim Lovelady 16:46 You hadn’t taken language yet.
Taylor Morris 16:48 I hadn’t taken language yet and wasn’t making the connection. And then, under it was a little symbol—the Costa Rica flag in a circle. So when I looked at it, I didn’t immediately think this was a Bible verse. But the minute I realized it, I was sitting on my bed, and I looked up and just stared at it, and I was like, “That says Psalm 121!” And I ran downstairs to my host parents and showed them. I was like, “What is this one? Que es esto?” and they go, “Oh, well,” and they explained to me, and I semi-understood at the moment that, when they’re a host family, they have to register that they’re host family in the school, and the school approves them. And so the school will list down the name of this. And most families will just put their last name, host house ____, whatever, Martinez. And they were like, “Well, we wanted to be more creative than that. And so we wanted to name it after a verse. And the scripture that God gave us is Psalm 121. We want this to be a place of shelter and security; we want you to know that God is with you. And your room has a good view of the mountains. And so it was really cool. And so I immediately started bawling because of this reminder that God was like, “You don’t know yet where you’re going, but know that I am with you here, and there’s intentionality in the in-between.” And so even being in language school, not knowing yet if I was even going to go to a team that spoke Spanish, I knew that God was saying, “This is not a mistake. Trust me now.” And so it was beautiful that month of January. Serge was ready to talk whenever I was about what was next, but they didn’t want to rush that. And so they just said, “You let us know when you’re ready. But we’re praying for your language school and everything.” And I took a month to grieve with God. And I allowed that to be a thing, like, “God, you tell us it’s okay to grieve.” You see it throughout the Psalms with David. We can grieve, but God wants us to invite Him into that, to do it with Him, and to realize He knows that we’re humans with emotions. And so I grieved with God for a month and finally felt like I was, “God, You know that I’m sad that what I thought was going to happen has fallen through, but I also know You are good. And You have good things for us. You have better things for us than what we see. And so what’s next? Where’s next?” And so then I eventually spoke to another team in Peru. Serge said, “Hey, there’s another team in Peru, and we think they’d be a really good fit if you’re willing to talk to them, but it’s very different.” So I talked to them. And that ended up being the Lewis family that I serve with now. They are my team, my team leaders. They serve in Cusco, Peru. I made a vision trip to them in March, then flew down to join them at the end of my language school in April.
And so, to summarize what we are doing, because it took me a long time to get here, we are in Cusco, Peru, which is the entry point for going to Machu Picchu. People fly into Cusco to go to Machu Picchu. And we serve with a house church planting ministry called Zona Zegora. That is a nationally led ministry that the Lewises, because they’ve been there longer than me, had friendships with and then eventually partnered with. And this ministry has been around for ten years. So they are trying to plant house churches in all of the surrounding communities. They have one or two in Lima as well, with the hope that they can show people God is accessible. You can read a Bible in your room together and learn about who He is. And we want to show you that is a church. You guys are in a community together, leading each other, discipling each other. And so that’s how the ministry was started. And then under that, they also started a program called Life & Work that teaches at-risk youth in the community who are at risk of continuing in the direction of poverty. We offer them this program. It’s a six-month residential program where they come in, and we teach them accessible life skills like cooking, cleaning, and business. They take English classes, where Jess Lewis and I teach English. And throughout those six months, we teach them about the gospel, one-on-one discipling each student. The main hope is that they come to know Christ. But secondary is that we can also offer them more opportunities than they currently can access. So if they have the skills that help them to get jobs in Cusco, where tourism is the largest industry, then they can start saving up money and have the opportunity to go on to secondary education and have dreams for the future, whether that’s to be a nurse, a police officer. Some of them have become really good bakers and chefs and moved up in the jobs into being some of the main people in those jobs. And so we want to give them those opportunities.
Jim Lovelady 21:41 Did you study education in undergrad?
Taylor Morris 21:44 I did not.
Jim Lovelady 21:45 You didn’t?
Taylor Morris 21:45 I studied exercise science. Very random. Yeah.
Jim Lovelady 21:47 Here you are teaching.
Taylor Morris 21:49 But here I am teaching. And even before that, I was a teaching assistant at a school before I left. So I ran away from that career path, and God’s like, “No, let’s come back to this.”
Jim Lovelady 21:58 This is good. This works.
Taylor Morris 22:59 So yeah, I joined their team, helping to teach English alongside Jess. Ben was doing medical clinics in the surrounding communities where we have house churches, using the house church as his base to do monthly check-ins. And so that’s what we were doing right before we left. We had kind of gotten to a season where… Life & Work is six months, and the last class graduated in October. And the new class was supposed to start in January. It’s the summer season there when kids are out of school. Many people, if they can, go on vacations or whatever. And as far as our ministry, it’s a slower period of ministry. And so we plan to come home in December. They’re doing some home assignments, doing some support-raising. I had some medical appointments I had to do.
Jim Lovelady 22:51 So you already had a plan.
Taylor Morris 22:52 We already had a plan.
Jim Lovelady 22:53 So yeah, so things go crazy in Peru?
Taylor Morris 22:55 Yes. Yeah. Kind of chaotic. Peru’s first female president was sworn in by the Vice President stepping up. The president was kicked out of office, tried to flee, and was arrested. There are a lot of questions, like, “Where is this coming from? Why is this happening?”
Jim Lovelady 23:13 And protests break out everywhere.
Taylor Morris 23:14 And protests start breaking out.
Jim Lovelady 23:16 And did your flights get canceled?
Taylor Morris 23:17 And so what happened was that demonstrations, called paros in Spanish, started happening. Usually, it looks like blocking roads with rocks and things (or people) so that transportation and things can’t happen, but they’re peaceful. It’s just that you can’t travel.
Jim Lovelady 23:36 It’s disruptive. It’s not violent.
Taylor Morris 23:38 It’s disruptive, not violent. But it can also go in the direction of more disruptive than just blocked roads. And so after a few days, some of these demonstrations started to target the airport in another city, Arequipa, trying to break into the runway. And so the Arequipa airport shut down because it was targeted. And then the Cusco airport shut down preemptively, saying, “We’re going to shut down before we’re targeted.” But it gets shut down on Friday, and our flight flies out the next Friday. And so we’re like, “Okay, how long is it going to be shut? This doesn’t look good.”
Meanwhile, the Lewises had been there during COVID. So they’re sitting there starting to have a little PTSD of, “Oh, no. It’s happening again.” The airport is shut, and now roads are also shut because people are blocking them. So we can’t even drive if we want to. And so we’re stuck in Cusco if we can’t get to Lima. And so we’re just kind of like, “Okay, what are we going to do? Do we fly out next Friday? What’s going to happen?” Things calmed down over the weekend, which is typical there; people like their weekends and rest. But then Monday comes around, and things pick back up again. And they go to the Cusco airport, even though it’s shut down. And they break some of the walls to get onto the airplane. So we just don’t know what’s going to happen. And we’re starting to plan like we might be stuck here. We might not be going home for Christmas.
And so fast forward to Thursday night; we drive from Izcuchaca, our ministry center, 40 minutes outside the city. So we’re like, “Hopefully, we can make it to the city and not run into these roadblocks.” We leave at 10:00 at night. Thankfully, we make it. We do run into active roadblocks in Izcuchaca, which was a surprise. They’re usually not that late at night. But we tried seven or eight different roads and finally found a way out of Izcuchaca. Jess and I joke because Jess and I the whole time were praying, and actively praying in the car, just nervous. And Ben’s like, “I wasn’t worried.” And we’re like, “Well, we’re glad you weren’t. We were worried.” And so we get to Cusco and stay with one of our church partner friends; we just stay in a house there. And the next day is Friday. And all we have heard is that the airport is closed till 12. And it’s been closed all week. And so in the States, when you hear “closed till 12:00,” you automatically assume that means it’s opening at 12:00. But that doesn’t necessarily stand true in Latin America. It just means that at 12:00, you will hear an update, and it could be, “we’re still closed.” But our plane was at 4. And luckily, the roads were clear enough that day that we could have a church friend drop us off at the airport, but we had to walk in. You couldn’t drive in.
Jim Lovelady 26:33 How far?
Taylor Morris 26:34 20 minutes from the house we were at. But then he was able to drop us off on the block. And then there’s a crowd of people outside who want to fly out. People are asking for humanitarian flights because they’re scared. There are military guards in front of this gate. And basically, we go up, show our ticket; they open the gates and let us in. And we’re like, “Okay, okay, we’re in.” We get into the airport. There are so many people inside. Knowing that everyone in there is people with tickets, just hoping the first flight does take off at 1:00. And everyone cheers. It’s great. But we look at the screen and our airline going to Cusco, the flight before ours, and the flight after ours is canceled. But ours is good.
Jim Lovelady 27:14 Going to Lima?
Taylor Morris 27:15 Going to Lima. And so we get on our 4:00 flight, and we’re sitting there, just looking at each other like, “We’re actually… this is actually happening! We’re leaving—whoa!”—but very grateful at that moment. As I said, these were pre-arranged flights, but they happened at a very good time. So we get out of there. Once we got to the States, we kept in touch, and things [in Peru] kind of continued in the direction they were; they slowed down during the holidays and took a peaceful rest during Christmas and New Year’s. But since January 4th, things have picked back up again. So what that does to us now is that I was supposed to fly back on January 18th, a month after I got to the States. I was going to go back to Cusco, and the Lewises were going to join me a month later.
Jim Lovelady 28:04 Get back into teaching and having these relationships that you’ve been building…
Taylor Morris 28:09 …with these students. And so, Machu Picchu has been closed for three weeks. And they kind of closed with this indefinite marker. The students I was going to work with, who had been working in Cusco—their businesses have been closed. And so they’ve kind of just been in the houses, and some of them are starting to study online because they need something to do. And then, on top of that, the cities have been struggling to get food coming in, and they ran out of gas for like a week. And so it’s like, if we were to go in and join, we would essentially be sitting in our houses. And yes, we could still love on our community members, but we’re not doing the ministry we’re there to do.
Jim Lovelady 28:48 I love that it’s a question of wisdom. Is it wise for us to go back? Is the fruit of our going back going to look like love? Or is it going to look like us sitting on our hands, not being able to do anything? But it’s not a question of strategy or where we can be most effective. It’s more like, what is the wisest thing to do where the fruit is love?
Taylor Morris 29:14 Exactly. We were actually already considering a move. There had been a few different things that have happened the last year where we were considering another city within Peru that we felt God was leading us to. So we left with that kind of hanging in the air of potentially moving to this other city at the end of the year that we felt God was leading to. And so we left with this like…
Jim Lovelady 29:39 I love all the uncertainty.
Taylor Morris 29:41 Uncertainty.
Jim Lovelady 29:42 It’s almost like you’re a plastic bag floating…
Taylor Morris 29:45 Floating through the wind. We’ll get there; we’ll get to the plastic bag. So yes, to summarize, at the moment, we feel like this could be, in wisdom, as well as just situationally, what’s going on. We’ve started asking God, “Are you actually leading us somewhere else? We thought it was somewhere else within Peru, but is it actually another country?” And so we are looking at the moment at the viability of serving in Colombia. And essentially, the original plan for the Lewises, and I’ve joined in on that, is to fly out of the States on the 15th. Originally, we were going to fly into Lima and then to Cusco. But we’re actually going to first fly into Columbia and do a vision trip there for a week. And we’re just looking at the viability of… we have a few connections we’re talking to and potential doors that look like they’re opening. And we’re going to see if those are as open as they look. And if God is really leading us there. But once again, we find ourselves in this moment of uncertainty.
Jim Lovelady 30:52 Once again, we don’t know.
Taylor Morris 30:54 Yeah, we don’t know. And so something that I think was why you kind of called me in to talk was I shared…
Jim Lovelady 31:00 I called you in!
Taylor Morris 31:02 Called me in. The other day, I was at the Serge prayer meeting and sharing all of this, and I had shared that battling with the Lord in prayer this last year is something that I’ve gotten really, I don’t know if “good at” is the right word, but I’ve become very accustomed to battling with the Lord in prayer over these things.
Jim Lovelady 31:22 I love that it started with holy curiosity. It went to holy grief. Now it’s holy wrestling.
Taylor Morris 31:29 Wow. Yeah. Let me write that down. That’s good.
Jim Lovelady 31:33 It’s being recorded.
Taylor Morris 31:34 Yeah. Yeah. And I love that use of even holy in those things.
Jim Lovelady 31:41 Because it’s directed to the Lord.
Taylor Morris 31:42 What’s holy about it is that it’s going to the Lord in those things. And I think a lot of times, we’re humans, and usually, our reaction is fight or flight. And I feel like a lot of times, specifically in our spiritual walk, it can be really tempting in these moments of confusion to have the reaction of flight and say, “God, I don’t understand what’s going on, so I’m going to run away from You because I’m so confused by it.” But, I think in those, really, God says, “Fight, but don’t fight Me. Fight with Me. I’m fighting here with you.” And realizing that these moments of confusion and sadness, and even disappointment, are all with the fact that we live in a broken world. And God grieves over that as well. I left the States a year ago with that mentality of God saying, “Remind yourself of My promises. Remind yourself of the thing that…,” and this is another promise He reminded me of is that He is unchanging. And we don’t really understand that because everything around us is constantly changing. And so to be able to trust that God does not change, which means that if He promises something, He won’t change His mind, is so hard and amazing to hold on to.
Jim Lovelady 32:58 I like how you’re taking the promises of God, and it’s not just that you’re intellectualizing, just going, “I’m going to claim them.” It’s not just an intellectual claim, like, “Oh, yeah, I’m going to put it on a coffee mug.” It’s, “No, I’m going to function as if these promises are true. I’m going to go through life as if these promises are actually true. And I have and will continually see how He’s faithful to His promises.” God’s promises go along with His faithfulness to fulfill those promises. So you’re moving. You’re doing something. You are not just sitting there going, “Oh, God loves me, and that gives me a good warm and fuzzy feeling inside.” No. You’re going, “Okay, well, Lord, I’m going to actively wait for You. I’m going to actively obey You when You say, ‘Alright, now go.’ And I’m going to actively celebrate when that flight didn’t make it, my flight made it. Hallelujah. Praise the Lord.” All of that is… you are participating with God in the middle of all that.
Taylor Morris 34:03 Yeah. Yeah. And I have a tattoo, “Not shaken,” on my thing, and this has to do with God being a foundation for us. And something I’ve realized with that is, growing up in a Christian home, a Christian family, I heard all the time in youth group this thing, “You can’t just add God into your life.” I think a lot of people who start out in their walk with Christ, that’s what we attempted to do. It’s like, “I have my life. Let me add God in.” And you run out of room for Him because you’re always trying to shift things to make Him fit. But it’s different when you take God and say, “No, God, You are my life. How does everything else fit into the fact that You are it?” And that’s a lifelong process because we don’t do it well. But I think the same with His promises. This is something that He’s been teaching me: “You can’t take what you see in the world and then filter Me through it and say, ‘Okay, God, I see this thing, and in my understanding, it doesn’t seem good. How do I filter the fact that You say You’re good through it? Well, this isn’t good. So You must be a liar.’ Versus saying, ‘God, You are who You say You are. So how does the world filter through the truths that You stand on?’” And then it’s like, “God, I know that You are these things; those don’t change. I don’t necessarily understand everything in the world; there will be confusion there. But those things—I get to sit and rest in You first.”
Jim Lovelady 35:29 I’m going to put a pause on all of those things that I don’t understand.
Taylor Morris 35:32 Yes, and know that “Somehow in all of this, You are good. And You say that You are working it for Your glory. And You say that You are bringing things to the light. And so when I see things I don’t understand, it’s because I don’t have the lens that You have. It’s not necessarily because You are wrong, because that’s setting into the fact that I’m right, I guess, and that I have all-seeing eyes, which I don’t. And so that’s something even in this year, in those confusing moments, to be able to say, “God, I don’t know what’s going on. I need to grieve, I need to be disappointed. I’m scared,” all of these things, “But I can be all of those things and still rest in the fact that You do know, and You are good. And You are bringing glory. And You have a plan, and You’re inviting me into it. And I’m along for the ride, I guess.”
Jim Lovelady 36:22 When you’re very open about the fact that you don’t have it all together and become a little bit more well-versed in practicing not having to put everything all together, you can just be like, “I’m a mess. This is crazy. I don’t know what’s going on. And I’m not going to fake all of those things because that’s my experience right now.” You put yourself in a wonderful place for… and it’s a place of weakness. It’s like, I’m not going to fake this. I’m weak, and I’m needy. And well, now we’re back to Psalm 121. Where does my help come from?
Taylor Morris 37:00 And I think that’s one of my favorite pillars of Serge, and it’s not really Serge, it’s the gospel. But it’s ministry from weakness. It’s this concept that if I’m more dependent on the Lord, I am more aware of my weakness. It doesn’t mean I’m weaker than I was before; I’m just more aware of it. And as I’m more aware of the weakness, I’m also more aware of how much I need Him. And if I am aware of those two things, how does that change how I interact with the world? I’m actually reflecting Him more. And potentially, they’re able to show someone else those things.
Jim Lovelady 37:40 If I am independent, I’m missing out on all these opportunities to trust in Jesus, which means I’m missing out on all these opportunities to make room for how the Lord can give joy to humble people. If I’m just like, “I got this, I got this,” Jesus is like, ”Well, your situation isn’t hard enough for you to not got this. But you’re missing the joy. So okay, go. Go got that,” you know?
Taylor Morris 38:12 Go got that. I like it.
Jim Lovelady 38:14 Fine. You know? And off I go, being capable, and so the Lord has been like stripping you of all these things you’ve been capable of.
Taylor Morris 38:22 Yeah. He’s like, “I’m not asking you to be capable.”
Jim Lovelady 38:25 I’ll take you’re capable. And I’ll give you joy in the Lord.
Taylor Morris 38:29 And a lot of times, even in going into the settings of other cultures, and in places we don’t know, that’s actually where you see the largest impact of your presence there that you show them your weakness. And that’s, for a lot of cultures, not normal. It’s not normal for our culture either. But especially when you go in as a foreigner and then be like, I’m struggling, or I’m messing up, and then say, but look how God is coming alongside me in these moments. And so you’d mentioned the plastic bag. But that was something I shared.
Jim Lovelady 39:00 Taylor, do you ever feel like a plastic bag floating in the wind?
Taylor Morris 39:03 Yes, hoping to start again. So yeah, you don’t want to get copyrighted here.
Jim Lovelady 39:11 I don’t think what I sang is much of that song.
Taylor Morris 39:15 So Katy Perry’s “Firework” song has been my anthem this year, and I’ve told so many people. I heard “Firework” first time in years (it’s like from the 2000s—it’s actually a pretty old song), but it starts out, “Do you ever feel like a plastic bag floating through the wind hoping to start again?” And then it goes on to say, “Do you ever feel so paper thin, like a house of cards, one blow or one step from caving in?” And I’d mentioned the whole plastic bag thing because I’ve really related more to the Israelites this year. What did it feel like to be an Israelite in the wilderness, realizing the story of the Israelites is ultimately the story of our life on Earth. God calls us to leave this place that was not it but to go to this place that is it. And that is us now, as believers in Christ, is that He’s called us. He said the world is not it. It’s temporary. It’s not forever, and I’m calling you to a new place. And now you’re on this journey from that to this. And so it’s like that. Life as a believer is like living in the wilderness, going towards the promise. But then, even knowing, you look at the Israelites, and you’re like, “ugh, the Israelites!” but when you read that story, it was such a zigzaggy path.
Jim Lovelady 40:39 A bag floating in the wind.
Taylor Morris 40:40 A bag floating in the wind. They’re like, “God, we love you.” And then two days later, “You didn’t give us water! You’re terrible.” And God’s like, “Here’s water.”
Jim Lovelady 40:46 “I’m tired of the quail!” What has been continually coming up in my mind is the fact that Psalm 121 is a pilgrim song. It’s a psalm for pilgrims on the journey, on their pilgrimage. And it seems like there are all these markers in your life, where, you know, when you’re hiking—you love the mountains; you love hiking—when you’re hiking, you know you’re on the trail when you see the marker. It’s like, there’s been this marker this whole time. You’re just following the marker. You’re just following wherever the Lord would lead you. And you’re like, “Is this home?” No. “Well, is this home?” And so even the idea of having left the familiar, going to an unfamiliar place, just everywhere wanting it to be home, but you know, the ultimate… one of the many ultimate promises of God is home in the Lord.
Taylor Morris 41:41 Yeah. Yeah, it started as I was getting ready to move to another country and starting to look through these things of packing up my stuff and figuring out what am I selling, what am I keeping. This could be forever living in another country. So it feels really silly to have an entire box of clothes I’m not going to wear for four years. And what do I do, just a lot of questions.
Jim Lovelady 42:02 Lori and I were overseas for a time. And when we came back, we opened up our storage unit. We were like, we’ve lived without all this stuff. And there’s a dead mouse in the corner.
Taylor Morris 42:13 Yes. So it’s like, what is not being grateful for the things the Lord has given me that I should hold on to? And what is being scared of provision—that if I were to come back that I won’t be able to get these things again? And there were just so many questions in that. And there was sadness for a minute because I realized, as a kid, home is where your stuffed animals are; home is where your parents are; home is where your bed is. It’s like where the things that feel familiar. It’s where your stuff is. And then I feel like as you get a little bit older, and maybe you’ve done a little bit more moving around, home is where your community is. It’s where your friends are. It’s probably still where your parents or your family are. It’s your community where you feel known. That’s where that is. And so then I was getting to this point where I’m like, “Well, it’s not where my stuff is because my stuff, it changes. And at this moment, it’s in three different countries. And it’s not where my people are, because I can’t take them in a suitcase with me, but they’re not going anywhere, but I’m not going to be with them. And so I’m going to have other people I love who become community with me, so that’s expanding.” And there was just this, “God, I feel like I’ve lost home.” And there was actually this beautiful part where I’d actually written… I’m not a poem writer, but I randomly wrote a poem one day to the Lord. And I said that I felt like my feet were slipping. And it was later that He gave me Psalm 121, where it says your feet won’t slip. So it felt like He literally responded to my poem. But there’s this beauty even now; I’m in another country, and it’s slowly becoming familiar, and I’m slowly growing in community. And there’s this beauty of, “God, in some ways, You’ve actually expanded home for me.” Home is more than what I thought it was. It’s bigger. And then realizing, too, that all throughout scripture, the Israelites and everything, they’re looking for the promised land. And God constantly says this promised land, which they think is Canaan, but it’s actually heaven; it’s life with the Lord. And it’s this eternity we’re promised: to live with Him in His glory and in the way that the world was supposed to be without tears and all of these things, right? And He promises this, but He’s also promising it’s not found here. And it’s realizing that when we feel longing for a permanent place, when we struggle with transition, when we struggle with change, when we struggle with not knowing where we’re going, or even where we just left, that it’s actually just a reminder that the lack of permanence that we feel is because we do long for something permanent. God made us long for something permanent, which is Him—an eternity with Him. And so there’s actually beauty when we have that battle in prayer with God of longing, because He said, “Direct it at me because the reason you feel that is that you were created for more, for Me, for this.”
Jim Lovelady 45:10 You’re a bag floating in the wind, a plastic bag floating in the wind. But you belong. You belong to someone. You belong to the Lord. And your home is with the Lord. So the question of what home is is while you’re on your pilgrimage, you go, “I have an ultimate home. I know that I belong; I belong to the Lord, and He will bring me in. In the meantime, ….”
Taylor Morris 45:37 You’re already in a home because you are abiding with the Lord. And you being in relationship with Him is that, and that’s actually perfect for these verses. So I have one that has stuck with me since last year, and it’s in Exodus [Exodus 13:17b-22 AMP]. So it says, “Even though it was nearer; [for] God said, ‘The people might change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.’ But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea; the sons of Israel went up in battle array [or some of them say ‘battle ready’] out of the land of Egypt. […]” And the Israelites kept saying, “God will assuredly take care of you, and you must carry my bones.’” So they bring Joseph’s body, and they journey. And then it later says, “The Lord was going before them by day in a pillar (or column) of cloud to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, so that they could travel by day and by night. He did not withdraw the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from going before the people.” And so I love this because one of my versions says instead of taking them on the shortest path, He literally takes them in a roundabout way through the wilderness. And sometimes, that’s how it feels in our walk with Christ. It’s like, “God, there was a shorter way! Why didn’t You take us there?”
Jim Lovelady 46:51 You didn’t see that?
Taylor Morris 46:53 You’re taking us through the wilderness. This makes no sense. But it’s remembering that the Lord knew where they were in their faith. He knew where they were in their weakness, and He wanted to set them up for following Him. He didn’t want to put them in a battle before they were ready. So they still have a battle at the Red Sea. And at this point, they’ve been following Him in the wilderness for a few days by this pillar of fire and cloud. And then, right when they get to the sea, the pillar of fire and cloud moves behind them so that they can get through the sea. And then that sea breaks back down, and they literally can’t go back to Egypt. And so God literally set them up to not be able to run away, back to what He did not have for them, and to set them on the path for what He did have for them. And so it’s beautiful to realize that God guides us. That’s been a big thing for me this year. You talked about those markers on a hike, and I’m like, “God, be our pillar of fire still. Show us those markers that we know we’re following you. But I also remember that even if it doesn’t make sense, You might have more context than me. And You might know… we might be going this way because there was a battle in a different direction that I wasn’t ready for yet. And this is all to strengthen my trust in You, to strengthen my faith.”
Jim Lovelady 48:04 If you knew what the Lord knows, you would be in full agreement and thankfulness.
Taylor Morris 48:11 Yes. He’s intentional in everything He does, even when it doesn’t really make sense to us all the time. And then you go to Hebrews 11, the famous faith chapter that mentions all these people of faith. And I’ve loved this. This is the chapter about faith, and they’re talking about Abraham. And they say, “By faith Abraham, when he was called by God, obeyed by going to a place which he was to receive an inheritance; and he went, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as a foreigner in the promised land, as in a strange land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, who were fellow heirs of the same promise. For he was [waiting expectantly and confidently] looking forward to the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” [Hebrews 11:8-10 AMP] And I’ve just loved that because that is literally us, as missionaries, foreigners in lands, not knowing where we’re going. But it’s also all of us, right?
Jim Lovelady 49:09 I love how your imagination is steeped in these stories. These stories have gripped you, and that’s part of what it means to cling to the promises of God, where you go, “Okay, I want to think about what it really means to be wrestling with Jesus and coming to a place where I can rest in Him. Well, how do I do that? Oh, well, who did it before me? Oh, children of Israel. Let’s see what happened. Oh, Abraham.” So then we find ourselves immersed in these stories. And then suddenly, the Lord goes, “See? You’re like that.”
Taylor Morris 49:42 Yeah. A lot of times, even just faith is not… it’s not that you never wrestle. It’s not that you don’t have questions. It’s not that you aren’t even frustrated at the fact that you want to know. We want to have control. We want to know what’s next. We want to know why it’s happening this way. But it’s remembering God doesn’t ask us to do any of those things apart from Him. He says, “Bring it to me.”
Jim Lovelady 50:04 That’s the whole point. I love that this is a pilgrimage that is blatant: take your tent, fold it up; we’re going somewhere else—the nomadic kind of thing where you don’t have enough time to settle in here because there is home wherever the pillar of fire by night and cloud by day is. That is where home is. So where is that next for Taylor? We don’t know. But that’s okay because you cling to the promises of God. That’s so good. Well, I’m really glad that you were able to make it in.
Taylor Morris 50:45 Yes. It’s very great. Yeah. Thank you. It’s always so encouraging even to me to rehash these because it’s not like we sit by ourselves, telling ourselves our life story all the time. And so getting an excuse to talk about what God has done and what He’s taught me is a reminder of “Oh, yeah. God, you did teach that.”
Jim Lovelady 51:03 This is real. The promises of God are real.
Taylor Morris 51:05 Yeah, Yeah. So thank you.
Jim Lovelady 51:13 The wonderful thing about Taylor’s story is how it’s marked by a willingness to follow Jesus into situations that naturally bring out a sense of neediness, uncertainty, and desperation. Taylor’s story was an example of how going on mission in God’s kingdom opens us to our weakness. And God promises to meet us in that weakness, which opens us to a renewed sense of joy in His love.
And the beautiful thing about all this is it points people to Jesus. At Serge, we call this weakness evangelism. It’s where we talk about how much we need Jesus in front of other people and live out the promises of God in front of other people. So it was an honor for me to hear Taylor’s story as she lives out the gospel in front of other people.
Now, one way to ignite this in your own life is to go on mission. And we at Serge have lots of opportunities for you, from short-term mission trips to two-year explorations. And the very architecture of these exploratory trips is that they put you in places where you can’t hide from your weakness anymore. And it creates a sense of desperation that was already there. So the promise of Psalm 121 becomes more real to you than ever, and you discover that your help comes from the Lord. It’s so wild. Your own gospel renewal happens while you are on mission.
So if you’re interested in exploratory trips like this, from anywhere between two months to two years, go to serge.org/go. And we’ll start a conversation about where the Lord might be calling you to go.
Or maybe you know that your calling is to equip others to go, and your Psalm 121 cry for help would be to give. If that’s where you are, go to serge.org/give and explore where the Lord is calling you to trust in His promises. There are so many ways to participate in Kingdom work.
Now, as you go into the world, a world that is in desperate need of generous friends, let this blessing of God remind you that all the promises of God find their yes and amen in Christ. So, may the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face to smile down on you. May the Lord be gracious to you. Turn His bright eyes to you, and give you His peace. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God, life everlasting. Amen.
Taylor Morris grew up in North Carolina in a small family of four. After college, she spent three months as an intern with a small ministry in Costa Rica. Her time there deeply transformed her relationship with Christ and understanding of her Identity as His beloved daughter as well as began her growing love for Latin America. In 2019 she began conversations with Serge and in 2022 left for the field as an apprentice. She's been in Peru since April of 2022. Taylor loves cows, dogs, coffee, rock climbing, working with children, and hanging out with people. The kids on her team affectionately call her Tia Taylor and one of her favorite things about Latin American culture is that there's no such thing as being late.
Jim Lovelady is a Texas-born pastor, musician, and liturgist, doing ministry in Philadelphia with his wife, Lori, and 3 kids, Lucia, Ephram, and Talitha. He is passionate about the ministry of liberating religious people from the anxieties of religion and liberating secular people from the anxieties of secularism through the story of the gospel.
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