Dream big because that’s where God shows up

Alyssa Vasquez

November 20, 2019

It was around this time last year that I was unexpectedly laid off from my job. Once summoned, I nonchalantly walked into the office, thinking it was another impromptu meeting, but instead a two-week notice was given. My immediate thoughts were not that spiritual: “Where will my finances come from, where will I work next?” My heart dropped in the moment, but there was also a peace that came over me as my boss explained her reasoning.

When the peace came, my internal dialogue was as follows: “God, you knew I would be here, you knew all this was going to happen, in fact, you knew this is how my day would turn out, so you are here with me and you will be with me in the transition. You are my provider, not this job and not this boss.”

It was a defining moment for me. How will I respond? What are the practical steps that need to be taken after all this is said and done? Of course, my least favorite scripture suddenly came to mind: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4 NIV)

I don’t always count trials or hard times as joy at first. It takes time to gain perspective and see how God can use even our greatest disappointments for our good and God’s glory (Romans 8:28). When events like these happen, I’ve learned to trust God, employ my faith and fight my fears. After leaving my job, I chose to work diligently to make ends meet from catering to admin work. I hustled.

I encourage you to dream bigger than you’ve done before because that is where God shows up. If your vision isn’t bigger than you, go and find a larger one.

During this time, I also launched my passion project and startup, YouBelong, LLC. Being passionate about championing churches as God’s design for building community and empowering individuals is what led me to take the risk. In the past 3 years, I have interviewed and spoken with approximately 100 pastors and church leaders. I’ve sat down in churches that are more than half empty, wondering what happened and what needs to happen to bring these churches back so they can once again be the light in their community.

I believe YouBelong is a movement that will change the way we see and do church. My team and I are working to receive feedback on our web-based application that will use technology to enhance the church-searching process. It seems like a daunting and tireless task to tackle, but it motivates me when I meet with pastors, brainstorm on how to reinvigorate their church. and discuss the endless opportunities that can potentially transform both the church and its community.

Moving forward in my decision to develop YouBelong, I took the opportunity to participate in the Co-Creators Incubator, an 8-month program for missional entrepreneurs sponsored by American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) that helps grow ministry ideas into viable ventures with a Christ-centered mission.

“Since the beginning of time, there have been inspired men and women of every nation and tribe,” notes Dr. Jeffrey Haggray, ABHMS executive director. “What ABHMS is attempting to do with this initiative, is to affirm that so, too, in this generation people are called.”

In early October, I participated in Demo Day, which allowed me and five other Co-Creators to present our project ideas to an audience of ABHMS staff, partners and friends. I pitched YouBelong as I had many times before. However, this time it was in a Christian environment, and with those who either understand the tiresome process of searching for a church or are part of a church struggling with relevance and survival.

It was a vibrant, energetic atmosphere and I had a genuine “God moment” the morning before I was going to speak. Standing there in front of my peers, mentors and a captive audience, I reflected on being laid off from my job to now speaking in this faith-filled environment where people were beginning to grasp the concept of YouBelong. It gave me a glimpse of God’s enduring faithfulness and reminded me again how God can use our disappointments for our good and God’s glory (Romans 8:28).

This journey reminds of the quote by Kristine Stevens: “If your dream doesn’t scare you, it isn’t big enough.”[1] YouBelong started in an entrepreneurship course I audited in a basement classroom at American University in 2015. Without receiving any credit, I sat in the front of the class, eager to turn an idea into a product or service. God entrusts us with ideas and passions that are larger than we can comprehend, so that we can eventually come to God surrendered; not knowing how it will come to pass or what the next step is.  

As I walked out of my boss’ office on the verge of panic, I began to find calmness and clarity about all of it. I could have focused on what was an unnerving experience, but instead, came to view it as the catalyst I needed to launch YouBelong. I encourage you to dream bigger than you’ve done before because that is where God shows up. If your vision isn’t bigger than you, go and find a larger one.

Alyssa Vasquez is founder of YouBelong, LLC, which helps connect individuals to communities.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of American Baptist Home Mission Societies.

[1]Kristine K. Stevens, “If Your Dream Doesn’t Scare You, It Isn’t Big Enough: A Solo Journey Around The World.” Manta Ray Books, 2013.

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