Anxiety at Home…Anxiety Overseas?: Laney Fredrick
College senior Laney Fredrick answered God's call to spend a summer doing ministry overseas in a country closed to the gospel. Her struggles with anxiety were a problem here at home, so would they follow her overseas? Listen to how God worked in Laney's life while sharing the gospel in a country hostile to the Christian faith.
About the Guest
Do you have what it takes to share the gospel overseas? Join Lainey, a college senior, as she conquers mission trip anxiety through faith!
Anxiety at Home…Anxiety Overseas?: Laney Fredrick
Real Life Loading…
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Season 2, Episode 67: Do you have what it takes to share the gospel overseas?
Guest: Laney Frederick
Air Date: December 16, 2023
Shelby: What scared you the most about going to North Africa to share the gospel when it's literally dangerous to do so?
Laney: I think for me personally, I've struggled with anxiety for the past, going on four years at this point. The idea of going to a different country where I didn't know anybody. I didn't know really anyone on my team. I didn't know the language. There's a language barrier. Like, they don't speak English where I went. That just gave me so much anxiety I was like, what am I even going to do there? How am I going to communicate with people? Yes, I feel like that was probably one of the hardest things. It's pushing past the fear of the unknown.
Shelby: Somewhat anxious, always authentic. This is Real Life Loading...
I'm Shelby Abbott and I'm here with Laney Frederick, a senior. You're a senior, right? At the University of Delaware. You and I know each other from when you were at Summer Mission in Ocean City, Maryland a couple years ago. Then this past summer, you spent six weeks with Cru® in a location that would certainly be labeled as maybe quote unquote “not friendly to the Christian faith.” You went there intentionally to build relationships and share the good news of Jesus Christ in North Africa. What was your experience like serving God in a closed country like that?
Laney: Yes, it was crazy. We didn't know what we were doing going into it.
Shelby: Okay, so it's always the best way to start a summer mission, right?
Laney: I had no idea what our days were going to look like other than at some point I was going to go out and just have a conversation with somebody. That was about all I knew. We would team up. We'd go out in pairs, or groups of three, four out of four or five days of the week and for just hours, just go and just try to talk to people.
Shelby: Now this was at universities, or no?
Laney: It was at universities. It was at parks; it was at McDonald's. Anywhere that we could find a college age student, because they were the people that were likely to speak English.
Shelby: Sure, okay.
Laney: So, because that's what they learn in university is like they speak English and like everyone else in the country basically doesn't. So, we were yet trying to find those little pockets of where somebody could be. We would just have conversations with them. I mean, I learned a lot about their culture there, what was important to them, things that they did in their daily life, anything like that. I would just start having a conversation with them. Then, yes, like, hopefully it could turn into something spiritual, which I did as well, learn a lot about what they believe there. Then, again, hopefully, someone will ask, they almost always asked us what we believe.
Shelby: Really, they would return that question? That's cool.
Laney: Uh-huh, every time. There was one day, which I love this story, because me and my friend Sydney went out, we were talking to somebody. We were like, do you mind if I shared what I believe? They were like, tell me the story. Really, tell me, I want to know. They're so eager to just hear what you believe that it just it was always just kind of a natural conversation. Then yes, you would probably get their number.
I love to meet up again with people and just like continue learning a bit about them. Getting to share anything that I can, but that was kind of yes what ministry looked like was just walking out hoping someone speaks English, and then--
Shelby: It's crazy.
Laney: Yes, then have a conversation follow up with them get to know them.
Shelby: So, that's really beautiful because not many people do that. They don't step out and just go, well, we'll see what God does today.
That's not how, Americans live their life. They know exactly what they're going to do. Where they're going to go; what they're going to eat; who they're going to talk to; how long they're going to be there; and then they move on to the next part of their day.
I love that there's this kind of like, almost improvisation of what will happen. You have like a framework, I'm going to talk to people for X many hours today, and then you’re going to just see what happens, kind of lean into it. Was that terrifying?
Laney: I mean, yes. It definitely became more normal and more natural—
Shelby: --as the weeks went on?
Laney: --as the weeks went on. But that first week, yes, the first day they took us, we had staff in country that came with us that first day and took us. I was like, “Oh, we just walk up to people and start talking, like there's no tools.”
Shelby: Because you're American and you speak English are they interested in talking to you?
Laney: Oh, yes.
Shelby: Okay, okay. I was going to say it's like probably a little bit easier than just randomly walking up to someone on the street in America, right?
Laney: Yes, the only time we would get turned away was if they didn't speak English. They'd be like, “No, I like don't understand what you’re saying.”
Shelby: Because they couldn’t understand you. But if they could, they definitely wanted to talk to you?
Laney: Yes. and they'd be like, “What are you doing here?” Like so yes. Everyone wanted to talk to us. There were so many times, too, where we'd walk by people not even, like, intentionally trying to talk to them, and they would start talking to us. And then it was like, Well, these are who we're being called to speak to right now. Like, yes.
Shelby: How many people were on your team? Like, students? There were ten students.
Laney: Ten students.
Shelby: Mm hmm, and then did you have American staff with you as well?
Laney: Yes, so we had two staff that came with us. Then there were two in country staff, but then they left after our first week. So, we were like, we had one week of kind of, and then yes, just literally on our own.
Shelby: When they left, what were you thinking?
Laney: I mean, it was kind of scary, especially because a lot of us, I mean, the majority of us, had never been to that country before. And even one of our staff, Rachel, she had never been there before either. And so, we were like, “Oh.”
Shelby: The leader has no idea what she's doing.
Laney: But she was awesome. She was really great but yes, we were kind of just like thrown on our own. And I loved telling my parents too, because I'd call them like once a week.
Shelby: Yes, I was going to ask you, what did your parents think about this? Go ahead and tell me.
Laney: I mean, I would just call them and be like, so we're doing this and now our staff left and we're on our own. My parents are, “What do you mean?”
Shelby: We didn't know about that.
Laney: Like they just, you're just there? I'm like, yes. I loved calling my parents and just telling them what we’re doing, especially because they know me, and they know how, like, anxious I am. They were like, there's no way you're doing this. Like, how? And I'm like, well, guys, it is the Lord, very clearly, like, again, because you know me, like, there's no way I could have done anything that we did, unless it was God.
Shelby: Tell me how God specifically met you in your anxiety, because that's what I asked you first, and you said that's what was the most scary.
Laney: Mm hmm.
Shelby: You come face to face with anxiety, but not only getting on the plane and going over there and then you're in a foreign environment for a week with staff you don't know, people you don't know, in an environment you don't know, talking about Jesus with non-English speakers for a week, and then they leave. It would seem like those would all be catalysts for deeper anxiety, but that didn't happen. Am I right?
Laney: No, no, it was the opposite.
Shelby: Yes, tell me what happened. Give me some details.
Laney: I think going into it, I was anxious beforehand, especially even getting on the plane. I was like, if I hadn't been with other people, I'm not sure I could have got on the plane. I was like, I'm making a mistake, no.
Then, yes, we prayed before we got on the plane and that was just like immediately a sense of peace. I was like, “Okay, we're getting on a plane like you're not doing this for yourself. You have felt called to this for months at this point. Get on the plane.” Then yet the entire time we were over there except for like one day, I didn't have any type of anxiety.
Shelby: Wow, really.
Laney: Which I think there was so much prayer going into it beforehand. Everybody was praying for me. I was praying as much as I could. Anything that we were doing when we were in North Africa was surrounded by prayer, even just going to lunch. We would pray, like everything like that. So, I think the Lord really, I think He worked through prayer that whole time, just to like, relieve that anxiety.
Shelby: After you've been through an experience like that, and in gone through anxiety to the degree that you have here in the States beforehand, has there been a transformation? Or when you got back, did it come back in a way that you were like, Oh, there's my old, familiar, horrible friend? Be honest, tell me, I don't want to hear a fake answer. I want to hear a real answer.
Laney: Yes, I mean, it definitely, yes, it did come back within two days of being home, which was really frustrating for me. Because I was like, how could I go for six weeks like in a different country and not be anxious about it? But then I come back here and I'm doing nothing. I'm just laying in my bed and I'm suddenly feeling that again.
Shelby: So, what do you think's going on there? Have you like talked to anyone about it?
Laney: Yes, I talked to some of the girls on our team that went over to because one of them also deals with anxiety in a very similar way that I do. So, we kind of talked about it and processed through it, prayed through it.
I feel like now I've kind of like applied some of the things that I was doing when I was over there to try to not make it go away, but like just help out. Because I feel like I was really focused on praying and like letting the Lord work and move when I was in Africa. Then when I come back to the States it's kind of just like I'm comfortable here.
So, I feel like when I was uncomfortable and I was I was more relying on the Lord, but then when I'm here and I'm comfortable and I'm with people I know, and the language I can speak, I just tend to forget that God is still there and I can just keep going back to Him.
Shelby: So, as I said before, Laney, we first met when you were on the Summer Mission in Ocean City, Maryland that my wife and I led for many years with Cru®. Tell me what made you want to go on another Summer Mission, but this time overseas to
Laney: Yes. So, when we were in Ocean City, I was there for maybe three days, and I was like, “I think I need to go overseas.” I have no idea where it came from. No idea.
Shelby: I do. [Laughter}
Laney: I mean, but I was just like, man this is a really great experience. I already love these people, but there's so many people out there who don't know Jesus. And for some reason it was just placed on my heart, literally day three. So, I spent the whole summer while in Ocean City praying about like, Lord, am I actually called to this, or is this just like, because of the environment I'm in?
I invited other people into pray about looking towards the future. We prayed about different teams that were already overseas that summer. I just felt really called to it. I was like, “I don't know why, I don't know where, but wherever You're going to put me God, I'll go. And that was kind of what you to have.
Shelby: And that was kind of an attitude to have.
Laney: Yes, that was kind of what I was praying while in Ocean City. I was - I'm ready, like just send me wherever. Then yes, I prayed for months, since the start of Ocean City, so June, from like June to November-December about, “Lord, I don't know where to go, but like, I want to go.” So this is kind of funny, I was like, “God, like, give me a sign.”
And then North Africa just kept coming up. It was like, someone talked about it, someone came to our large group and just mentioned going to like the location that I was at, and I was like, Oh, like, okay. And then I met somebody else who had already been there, and it just kept coming back up. And I was like, “Alright God, like you might be calling me here.”
Then I talked to my parents about it, and I was like. “Hey guys, like I think I want to go overseas to this location that I can't tell you, but it's in Africa.” My dad was like, “Hmm, yes, maybe not .” But my mom was like, “Oh you should totally do that.” So, for my mom, who didn't grow up a believer at all, and when I said I want to go overseas, she was like you should totally do that. I was like, that's like the final thing there. I've already heard about it. Then to have somebody who loves me support me in that, I was like, that's where I'm going.
So, I applied and then we didn't hear back for months again, because they didn't have anyone to lead. So, we just sat with our applications for months, and I was like, I don't know if I'm actually going to go. I don't know if this trip is going to happen. I haven't even been accepted yet to even start raising support. I was like, this is just not going to happen.
I was ready to pull the plug, this is probably January of last year, and I'm praying about it. I'm like, “God, this is clearly not where you want me to go. I've been praying about this for months and nothing's happened.” And so, I was praying about it, and I was like, tomorrow's the day. I'm done. I'm pulling the application. This is not happening.
Then the next day, I got a call from our leader, Rachel. And she was like, “Hey, do you want to come on this trip with us?” I was like, God, right when I was ready to just end it all and be like, nope this is not what You're calling me to. He showed up. And then she's like you can pray about it and like get back to me. I was like, nope, I'm in. This is it.
Shelby: I have been praying about it. [Laughter]
Laney: I have been praying for months. This is where God is calling me to go. That was yes kind of how I ended up in Africa for the summer.
Shelby: That's really, really cool. Your parents you said are believers then. How did your dad deal with it after you, you were like, “Nah, I am going to go”?
Laney: My parents are honestly the best. I think I am really blessed in the parent department there. I think he knew that there was no changing my mind about it. And so, then when I was like, yes, dad I'm going to do this. Like he was like, OK, which he didn't quite understand the not telling people where I'm going thing.
Shelby: Okay, did he blow it?
Laney: No, I mean, he told my grandma. But like he was like, why can't I tell people where you're going? So that was probably a struggle for him. But, yes, I think their biggest concern was really just like, raising the support to be able to go.
Shelby: That was actually going to be my next question. How did the support work? Did it, how did it go? Did God bring it in quickly? Was it like a long slog? Like, what happened?
Laney: Yes, I would say it was definitely longer than when I was raising support for Ocean City, because I had a bit more to do this time around. I would definitely say, “Yes, it took a bit.” There was a point where I was like, this is not going to happen. I'm not building my support team enough. Where is the rest of this money going to come from? And yes, I mean, it was scary for me because I was like, I felt so called to it and then to not see it come in.
Laney: I was like, again, am I not called to this? Like, is this not going to happen? So, I was kind of preparing myself up until like a week before to just be like, if you're not called, if this doesn't come in, then you're not going. And like kind of preparing my heart for that.
But then it was actually we were driving to the airport. We're driving to the airport. And my friend was like, “Hey, I found this money or like I forget how, but he just like had some money that he was like, I'm going to support you again.” He had already been on my support team, and he was like. But I'm just going to do this. And it was like the rest of what I needed.
I was like, like, I'm literally driving to the airport. They're like, when you get here, whatever you have left, like you pay for it. And I was like, OK. So yes, it was really cool though - looking back on it now, being okay, I did pray about it, and I did watch the Lord provide, even if I was freaking out in that moment.
Shelby: Yes, so support raising, if you're listening and you don't know what support raising is, support raising is basically where you invite other people to partner with you to financially be a part of what you're doing on a mission. The money has to come in, in order for you to be able to go on the mission.
I have found, you know I've been on staff with Cru® and now FamilyLife® for twenty something years. I don't even know how long, but over twenty years. And I've been raising support the entire time. I have found that raising financial support is often like evangelism. It's very, very purposeful. I don't know what's going to happen. God, you're going to have to provide. And if you don't, I don't know what I'm going to do.
It's actually a really good place to be, because it's in a place of need. Like when you put yourself intentionally in a place of need and you say, “God you have to show up or I'm done.” It's faith stretching. It like exercises those muscles in ways, those spiritual muscles in ways, that have never been exercised before. So, you were able to go through that exercise in support raising right before you get over to a closed country to share the gospel. Isn't it interesting that God decreases your anxiety in that time? Was your anxiety super high when you were raising support?
Laney: Yes, I cried a lot, yes. There were a lot of, a lot of tears. I feel like I was more confident though in trusting the Lord, because I watched Him do it for Ocean City. So, I feel like I still trusted Him, but then I was doubting when I didn't see it come in, in the way that I thought it would.
Shelby: As you're going into your next stage of life, you're graduating soon. You want to be a teacher, right?
Shelby: Are you in a position now where you're tempted to be Incredibly anxious about how God is going to provide?
Laney: Yes, for sure. I think there's two big things. One is looking towards the Spring and being - I'm a fresh out of college student and I'm trying to pursue teaching and it's the middle of the school year late.
Shelby: Yes that's tough.
Laney: Where am I going to find a source of income? I don't have anything for the Spring lined up. Yes, I am looking forward to next year as well. It's, where am I going to go? Am I going to go back home? Am I going to stay here and teach? Am I going to move down near my sister, anything like that? I just have no idea right now like anything.
Shelby: What do you think you could apply from what you learned in North Africa, in the support raising process, in the gospel sharing process, in the living by faith process to the upcoming months as you're going into kind of like an open space that is full of a lot of question marks?
Laney: Yes, I think it's a lot of continuing to put all of my faith in the Lord and having that be my identity. As soon as I fall into, “Oh, am I not teaching in the Spring or I'm not teaching next year, because I'm not good enough or anything like that,” and putting those worries over the Lord, then I feel like that's where like a bunch of my anxiety can kind of stem from.
But I think what I've learned this past year is really like how to put Him first. That might look different depending on what season of life I'm in. That is ultimately what I want to do, in order to build my relationship with Him. I think one thing I took away from being in North Africa was that the way I worship the Lord doesn't need to be like this set thing every day.
Because when we were there, it was a completely different schedule. Every single day I didn't know if I could sit down and actually find time to read my Bible. But I could spend time in prayer on our taxi ride to wherever it is we're going, or things like that, or like we couldn't listen to worship music out loud. So, like, how do I find time to worship the Lord?
I feel like that has been just something I can apply. I've been applying this semester, with a busy schedule with student teaching, but also in the future that what I have thought spending time with the Lord should look like isn't necessarily what worshiping the Lord can look like.
Shelby: That's great Laney. It's really good. You're exploring these kind of questions and asking them in real time. You're learning this kind of stuff in real time. Right now, is the opportunity to lean into it and you're doing it. You're leaning into your relationship with God in the midst of going through this hard stuff and that's a good spot to be. It just is.
Because, I was going to say this earlier, when you're in North Africa, my bet is that you didn't see a lot of quote unquote “results,” like tick marks in a column, where like, did anybody become a Christian, or did anybody communicate that they wanted a Bible, or did anybody communicate that they wanted to, you know, start going to a church or whatever. Am I right in saying that?
Shelby: Yes. Okay. So, if this comes back to do you remember the definition of successful evangelism? Do you remember when we talked about that?
Laney: It's something like taking a step out in faith and leaving the results up to God or something like that.
Shelby: Yes, very good, very good. Yes. It's, taking the initiative in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God. If that's the definition of successful gospel sharing, if that's the definition. If you're really are leaving the results to God, if you're stepping out in faith, you're really being successful. Well, that's like a missionary trip, that's like the spiritual thing.
But now take all of that and apply it to where you're at right this second. You're like getting ready to graduate. You're moving into a new season of life. What's the definition of successful walking with God? It's taking the initiative to trust Him in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to Him. It's the same thing. It's the same thing.
Shelby: It really is one of those things that you can move into scary things in a different way. You're not going to share the gospel in North Africa as you're going to get a third grade teaching job. You're not doing that. But you are moving into a different kind of scary thing.
Shelby: Man, I could talk to you about this forever, but I just have one more question.
A lot of people might hear your story and they might go, “I'm never going to do that.” I don't have the opportunity or whatever. If someone can't do something like a six week trip to a closed country to share the gospel, which I'd say is the majority of people, what can they do right here, right now, to help be part of what God is doing in the world to bring people to Himself?
Laney: Yes, I love the idea of just thinking about five people that are in your life, whether that's a coworker, whether that's a sibling or a family member and just starting to pray for those five people. Pray for them in whatever it may be. But also praying that the Lord would open up an opportunity for you to talk about Him with them and I think, yes, you can do that anywhere.
I've been praying about some of the teachers that I teach with and just like, “Lord, open the door so I can talk about You,” whether that's somebody else or I bring up even just the word like faith or pray, you can just throw those words in and that sparks people's curiosity. And they're like, “Why did you say that word?”
Shelby: Like, yes.
Laney: Yes. So, pick five people, start praying for them right now and pray that there's an opportunity for you to talk about Jesus with them.
Shelby: Yes, that's really, really good advice. And it's also something that doesn't seem like a gigantic mountain to climb.
I love that you talk that way practically about stuff. Because as we were talking about a six week trip overseas to a closed country, some people might go, “My parents literally would never let me do that.” Or “I can't raise money to go do that.” They might have been going, “This is completely irrelevant to me.” But it's not. Because you can do things like that. That's really, really good.
Is there anything else that maybe you wanted to say over the course of our time today that you didn't get a chance to share that I didn't ask about?
Laney: I mean, there's one story that I think could be really encouraging.
Shelby: Yes, share, please.
Laney: Yes. So, basically, when we were overseas and we would go out and we would meet people and we would talk to people, me and my friend Katie met this girl at a university. We just started talking to her. We didn't get into anything spiritual in that conversation. We were just learning about her and her culture, and what's important to her. Then she invited us back to her house and was like, come meet my family just come back to my house.
I loved telling my mom this, because my mom was like, you're just going to go to her house? I was like, yes.
Then a few weeks later, Katie and I went to her house. We got to meet her mom and her dad, and we met actually the whole neighborhood. Everybody walked by and was like, “Who are you guys?”
Shelby: What are the Americans doing here?
Laney: Yes, everybody came in to talk to us. But what I thought was so cool was that her parents didn't speak English. So, there was a language barrier there. And we ended up getting into a spiritual conversation about prayer and about how we can pray freely. We can pray whenever. We don't have to do anything in order to have a conversation with God in prayer. Where in their religion, what they believe, they have to do all of these different steps.
Shelby: Right, yes.
Laney: So, we're talking about it with her, with our friend who speaks English. Her mom, who doesn't speak English, is just sitting there smiling at us. Our friend was then able to translate to her mom what we were saying about prayer. How, because Jesus died for us, we are now able to have a relationship with the Lord and to be able to pray and talk to Him.
That for me was just so cool because there was a legitimate language barrier.
Shelby: Yes, yes.
Laney: We could not have communicated with our friend's mom, because of language and yet the Lord was still able to put somebody in both of our lives that could speak English and could speak Arabic and was able to ultimately share what we were talking about. So that was like, yes, one of my favorite, favorite stories was just being able to talk about Jesus a little bit and prayer with a legit language barrier.
Shelby: Yes, where you wouldn't have been able to do that at all if you wouldn't have met that girl. That's so incredible.
Isn't it just like God to be putting us in situations where we have to trust Him? When we get comfortable, that's actually when the danger arrives. I'm so thankful that Laney was honest about what she was going through, both before, during, and after the Summer Mission overseas in North Africa. And I think it's a great lesson to me, maybe to you as well, about what it looks like to trust God when things are quote unquote “difficult by human standards” and then when things are kind of quote unquote “easy,” here in the States where we're surrounded by comfort all the time. God wants to speak to us. Are we listening is the question.
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