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Carena Ravenel - Dec 2021

Faith Journeys

PO Box 2873

Cumming, Georgia 30028

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About Me.

This past summer, I stayed in Ghana for six weeks. and it was the best decision I have ever made. When I made the choice to go to CORM for such a long period of time, it was selfish. Of course I wanted to help as well, but mainly I wanted to see my friends again and reconnect with the most important people in my life. But, I got so much more than friendship out of these six weeks.

In February 2020, I started developing a sudden case of Tourette's, I became so depressed I didn’t see the point of anything, and I was smoking weed pretty often. I didn’t know who I was and, to be honest, I didn’t care enough to figure out who I was even supposed to be. I was terrified to leave my room, let alone go outside. I would have week long disassociation episodes and feel incredibly lost. I had hit rock bottom and for no particular reason I could pinpoint. It just happened.

...And then I left for Ghana— the one place that has ever made me feel safe and loved and given me an overwhelming amount of peace. And it’s so crazy but within days, my Tourette's stopped. I was happy. I felt worth. I was present for every moment and I loved it. Thinking about it now makes me emotional. I was okay. After months of feeling nothing but apathy and fear, I was okay. It’s a miraculous thing.

Funny thing is, I have never had a good relationship with God. And you would think with someone as godly as my mother I would be just like her but I wasn’t. And I’m not. In fact, I really really disliked Him. I thought He was a hypocrite and what He said didn’t make sense and I didn’t trust Him. I believed He existed but I didn’t like Him. I went to church as required and I knew enough Bible stories for you to certainly think me a Christian but I wasn’t, really. And here’s where the fun part comes in: My last few weeks at CORM, they had a period of fasting and I participated. Not because I felt led by God, but because I just wanted to prove to my friends that this white chick could do anything they could do. And so I fasted, and I was successful. On the last day, they held an all night prayer and I went because, as a volunteer, it was my responsibility to set an example. However, I've always hated praying. I thought it was stupid. Like, if God knows everything why would I need to communicate with Him? It was weird to me. I’ve never actively participated in these kinds of things— I just always stood against the wall and watched these kids worship a God I never understood. But this time, I don’t know why, but I participated, just kind of giving all my thoughts and questions to God, you know?

My thoughts: I have always felt unlovable. Like something about me was inherently wrong, so I needed to makeup for it by being so out of the box insane that people couldn’t see who I really was. Because once people see me for who I am, they usually stop wanting to be with me. That's been my experience in life. So anyway, I'm thinking all these thoughts as I'm like praying right and the first thing I got from praying was “God made me, therefore he HAS to love me” right?

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That’s a well known fact in Christianity. But I don’t think it’s ever really hit me. Because, like, my parents made me, but they don’t love every single itty bitty thing about me, you know? But God literally chose everything about who I am, He knows things about me that I don’t even know about myself yet. He knows how many times I've messed up and all the poor decisions I've made. And He still loves me. And for years and years I’ve always felt like I can never be loved for who I am. Because once people know everything about me, they leave. And so I’ve always hated myself. Thought I was broken. But, like, God chose me to be this way and He loves me for it, you know? I don’t have to do anything. and that is such a gift, not only to receive, but, like, finally understanding what it means to be loved by God is insane. And so, as I was praying that night, I was wondering like, okay, since He has given me the most valuable gift of my life, what could I possibly give Him that could measure up? He made everything. He can make more of them. What can I possibly do that would mean anything to this guy? And the answer is this: nothing. The only thing that has ever had value is us— humans. So, like, I can only give Him myself. There’s only one of me and I’m the only one who can give Him that gift. And when I say “myself” I don’t mean my physical body. I mean my time and energy. Ultimately, I’ll have to “submit” to Him. And I hate that word. Never ever will I submit to someone. Because then I feel like an object, ruled by someone else and I no longer have control, which is one of my biggest fears. But that’s what makes it important. He knows how hard it is for me to submit and listen and give up control and so, eventually, when it happens, God’s going to appreciate it more than anything.

And, okay, every time someone prays over me or someone really “holy” meets me, they always tell me “you’re going to do great things” and I think, like, everyone gets told that at some point. But it’s happened so many times and they’re always amazed when they meet me. And I just always thought it was some religion crap to get me to commit to God faster and that they “tell everyone that” but I think it’s true now. And everyone seems to know about this future except for me. Which sucks. My mom has come to me crying, saying I’m going to save people’s lives and like, I don’t know how to react to that because I don’t know what it means. So, during the all night prayer, I asked God what His plan was— what He wants me to do. And He wants me to love. And that’s super broad and vague so I asked Him who He specifically wanted me to love. And He said “you.” Which is like “aw, that’s sweet and cute,” but I didn’t really dwell on it. I think He means for me to love on people who are like me; the outcasts and the people who feel like they’re lacking or who are “unlovable” or “not good enough.” The way that I have always wanted to be loved is the way I'm supposed to love others. But, like, it won’t be my love. I’m going to be an example of God's love.

My love has always kind of been intense anyway. Like, when I REALLY love someone, it’s intense and crazy and people can be scared by it because it’s so freely given and genuine. I've been told that it feels like a trap because it doesn’t make sense as to why I would love so deeply and freely when it could hurt me. And even though people get freaked out by how genuine it is, I don’t usually stop because, like, people need to feel loved. They can run away from it and it might break me apart when they do, but, dude. If loving a person makes them feel worth at some point in their life, it’s worth it every time. And doing it for God. Well, that's different too. During the coming of age event, we had our first early morning devotion. It was 5:30am and I was tired but something in me had changed at this point. I legitimately wanted to do this now. It was me and 20 other kids sitting in silence, listening to a worship song and listening to God...and I felt high. I've heard addicts in recovery say things like “I'm high off Jesus!” and I just thought that was just something they said to like, say it. BUT GUYS. IT. HAPPENS. I have never in my life felt such an amazing sensation as I felt in that moment with God. And then I randomly opened my Bible to a part that felt warm- like I felt God was telling me to read that and, hahaha, guess what, it’s a passage about submitting to God. So He was talking to me. Absolutely crazy.

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Faith Journeys

PO Box 2873

Cumming, Ga 30028

We had a different prayer event for the coming of age kids after that. And I asked God what His plan is again. Because, yeah, sure, I can love people, but like, what are the specifics? Anyway. I saw myself on this stage, like how some of the gen Z churches are set up (lots of lights, big high stage that you have to use stairs to walk on, colorful LEDS) and I was on the stage, looking down at someone and holding their hands, as if I had just finished praying for them or something. And they had a facial deformity. And, like, I would usually have some judgements in my head (because I’m human) but all I had was genuine love for this person. And I didn’t know them. And I was just in front of so many people— healing, loving all the things. I think I’m going to have my own ministry. It was easy to see. And I thought about what I would even call this ministry if it did happen? And God said “Faith Journey’s”. I would continue my mother's non-profit. It’s my birthright. And I’m just like my mom so it makes sense that, out of all her five kids, it would be me. NOT ONLY THAT, but the pastor in Ghana, Johnbull, has prayed over me before and told me “Carena, your mom has done so many great things for us and for others and she’s a warrior in God's kingdom. But what she’s done is only a fraction of what you’re going to do.” Doesn’t it makes sense that my mothers “fraction” would be the non-profit. And I would take that and build upon it and reach so many more people and love them as God intended. Like. Everything fits. It makes sense.

I wrote in my journal “I feel like my purpose is to fill people up. With God, with love. It’s always been easy for me to love the unlovable, the outcasts. So, I think God will overflow in me and my overflow will then go to others. It makes sense. Like. Ok. Another thing people usually say when they prophecy over me is “you love the broken” And that’s what God does. He loves and heals wounds and that’s what I want to do. Like, how cool would it be for my job to be just loving people and letting people know they have worth. I’ve always done that— I’ve always LOVED to do that. It’s been an easy thing for me.”

Anyway. Long story short. God wants me to love people. Even though it’s scary and people suck. I am being called to love people intensely and genuinely because that’s how He loves people. For years, I have been preparing to become a book editor and publish my own poetry and do what I love. But, that’s not what I'm supposed to do. It’s a nice thought but God has bigger plans for me. And it all started at CORM. I'm so grateful for them.

This next trip in December, I'll be going for a month. I plan to dive deeper into my relationship with God and find more of myself to, hopefully, help others in the near future. I'm going to apply to be a business major and learn my mother's company and reach everyone God has called me to reach. It’s going to be the hardest thing I do, but, man, it’s worth it.

I will need help for that obviously. I have been saving up as much as I can and whatever you can do to also support my efforts I would truly appreciate. But yeah. Thanks for letting me share. God has done some really cool things in my life and He's not done. To give you can follow the link below, send a check to that address or give through this facebook link (where all donations are being matched until Oct 7 https://www.facebook.com/donate/251859656943426/