What does saying “yes” to God look like for Mary Lu and her husband Doug? Read her story about how saying “yes” brought her to Freedom to Lead International.
From a Young Age
When I was 9 years old, I said “Yes” to the invitation to receive God’s gift of forgiveness and to follow after Jesus Christ. At the age of 15, I said “Yes, God, I will serve you in music and in missions and will go to Nyack College.”
I had no idea what saying “yes” to Jesus would look like back then. But what a journey it has been! I must confess that I haven’t always responded with a hearty “Yes!” Sometimes I was saying, “Yes” through clenched teeth. However, it is my most recent journey that has brought me to where I am today.
Freedom to Lead International
My “Yes” to Freedom to Lead International® (FTL) came in 2001 after very first FTL leadership module delivery presentation in India. On the flight home, I looked at my husband Doug and said, “I’ve just seen our future and it will be with Freedom to Lead.”
What was it about this FTL experience that resonated in me? It was watching leaders respond to Jesus’ example of leadership. It was watching my husband’s skills as a pastor and ethnomusicologist merge together. It was working with indigenous musicians to create songs that captured those ‘aha’ moments in the materials that were being taught. And later, it was imagining the potential of investing in FTL’s The Garden Project for women.
In 2015 Doug and I stepped out of church ministry (Worship Pastor for 25 years) so that Doug could join Freedom to Lead full-time in order to develop songs for FTL’s storycentric curriculum. I traveled with Doug only once a year because I continued to teach piano, accompany choirs, and lead musical theater in my local high school. Our plan was to remain in Ohio until 2020 when our youngest son would complete college and my choir director hoped to retire. This would have made for a nice, easy, and smooth transition into our next phase of life and ministry together with Freedom to Lead. But God had different plans.
A Different Plan
Saying, “Yes” to God and His plan isn’t always smooth or convenient, but it is always good! In June of this year, much earlier than we had anticipated, we felt a clear leading from the Lord that I needed to resign from my accompanying positions at the public schools in Ohio after 18 years. I also closed my piano studio, resigned my position as President-Elect of Ohio Music Teachers Association, as well as resigned from other positions I had held, At the same time we signed a contract this month to sell our home in Ohio and are in process of purchasing a new home in North Carolina.
This most recent “Yes” is due to seeing how God has brought tremendous growth to leaders around the world through Freedom to Lead. It has become quite evident that The Garden Project curriculum is making an enormous, positive impact on pastors, leaders, and churches in some of the most under-resourced parts of the globe. For this reason, Doug and I need to increase our capacity to travel and develop more songs. We also need to have more face-to-face time with our team to brainstorm and strategize together how to meet the explosion of requests for FTL’s leadership development curriculum.
Choosing Again to Say “Yes”
As I write this blog, I am in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia working with Song Development and next week will be in Nairobi, Kenya for the first time. I am choosing again today, to say, “Yes” to what God has for me. Period. My knees may shake. My stomach may churn. I may miss my students, my school, and my friends. But I stand on the Rock of Christ and He will not be moved. He will take my hand and whisper, “Mary Lu, whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice, ‘This is the way; walk in it’.” And with courage from my Heavenly Father, I will say, “Yes.”