Leah Haugh: An Unexpected Calling
When Leah Haugh was seventeen years old, she was captivated by God’s love and made a decision to serve Him all her life. At that time she had no idea that would eventually mean putting her plans on hold for two years and moving to a different country to spread the fire of revival to cold hearts. Leah’s first glimpse into the life of a missionary was during a short term mission trip to Cuba, over a thousand miles from her home in Ohio. In the hot climate of Cuba, she met Jessica, a missionary who was serving in Argentina at the time. Immediately, Jessica noticed Leah’s natural gift for ministry and encouraged her to look into long-term missionary opportunities with Extreme Nazarene. Leah was so taken off guard by the remark that she began to laugh! Up to this point, she believed that she would finish college, get married, and then maybe enter the mission field. However; one year later, at the age of twenty, with only one more year of college to finish, God confirmed through prayer that He was asking her to drop everything and go immediately. Knowing that God’s plans are always more promising than our own, Leah was quick to obey and was shortly after approved as a 40/40 church planting missionary to Antofagasta, Chile. She then made the move with her church planting teammates to South America to begin their ministry.Complete devotion to Christ will change your life. Leah has found this to be true for her and her team members as they continue taking steps towards the goal of planting a church in Antofagasta. The team has been on the mission field for about one year now. It is impossible to go to the mission field pursuing God and not be changed. Growing in a spiritual walk with God, it is soon realized that God may not bring restoration to certain parts of our lives until He has established a firm foundation. That often looks like dealing with brokenness in our past. This can show up in lots of ways. For some, that may mean revisiting and overcoming hidden feelings of resentment and bitterness. For Leah in this past year, that has looked like restoration and surrender. Throughout the earlier stages of her ministry work, Leah recalls God nudging her to mend damaged relationships. This talk of foundations makes one recall the story of two houses talked about in Matthew 7. If the foundation of our life is built on broken relationships and unaddressed feelings it will be like the house built on the sand. However, our faithful God not only is able to, but also desires to replace our foundation of shifting sand with His firm foundation of rock that transforms us into unblemished joyful sons and daughters of Christ.
Along with restoration, God also rejoices in our complete surrender. Instead of avoiding fears, doubts, and uncertainty God has been showing Leah how to lay those insecurities at his feet. “Back home I was able to avoid everything I was scared of and bad at, but here I am forced to face those things daily and through that, forced to rely on God’s strength and not my own.” Most personal growth comes through venturing outside of the safety of your comfort zone. It is so easy to become overwhelmed with fear when God asks us to do something we are not comfortable with, but peace during those moments comes from knowing that God never changes. The same God that was faithful to the Israelites is also on your side, and just as he spoke to Israel through Moses, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you" (Deuteronomy 31:6), He speaks to you, confirming His strength in your weakness.
Leah and her team has especially needed to rely on God’s strength when it comes to effectively evangelizing in Chile. As a postmodern culture, evangelizing in Chile has some similarities of evangelizing in the USA. “Trust must be built. Unlike other parts of South America, the gospel is not well received when you simply walk up to a stranger on the street and begin talking about Jesus. Forming relationships first will build trust and prepare a heart to receive the message of the gospel.” As an athlete, Leah has found it easiest to build relationships through sports. After joining a competitive soccer team, she has experienced several opportunities to share her testimony with teammates. For Leah using sports is a very natural way to evangelize. God has given us certain gifts and interests so that we may use them to build up the kingdom of heaven. Just like Leah has done, I think it is very important to get involved in your community and make it your mission field.
The church planting team of Antofagasta, Chile still has about one and a half years left to minister and plant the church. You can join their efforts to spread God’s love through prayer. Pray for receptive hearts as the missionaries continue to evangelize.
Check out Leah's bio to find ways to connect with her.