I’m Tori Randall, and this is how I’m living deeply.
It seemed like everywhere I looked, I saw young people my age -men and women- carrying huge guns to protect their country. I was on a two-month study abroad trip in Israel through Moody Bible Institute, where I was in the second year of pursuing my undergraduate degree. Nothing was the same after that trip. I couldn’t help but keep thinking about how Israeli soldiers are everywhere- and they’re mostly 18, 19, 20; my age at the time. I kept replaying how we walked through the bunkers and ruins from that country’s war for independence. All young people in Israel are required to serve out of high school. Learning that really shook me to my core because I’d just graduated from high school not much earlier. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I couldn’t see myself ever being able to do that. I deeply respect people who can.’ I was scared enough as an 18-year-old living my 18-year-old American life! But, as I turned my thoughts to life back home, the feelings I took from Israel sparked something: I realized I was developing a heart for people who serve in the military, and I thought I’d love to be able to somehow support them. Should I enlist? Should I become a counselor for veterans? I temporarily put those questions to the side for a while when I went back to school. But eventually I needed to do an internship for my major (my degree is in social work) in order to graduate. All the counseling centers had moved online because of COVID, though, and no one was taking interns. So I was sort of freaking out- I had to graduate! That was when a friend at Moody told me his parents were recruiting interns for Cadence International. Cadence is a ministry that owns what they call hospitality houses, either on or right next to military bases, all over the world. They send missionaries to live in those houses and develop ministries to men and women in the armed forces. They partner with the chaplain on each base to do this and host Bible studies, community events, and outreaches. It matched what was in my heart, so I applied for -and got- the internship.
I spent summer 2021 serving through Cadence at Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Hood in Texas. I got along especially well with the house family at Fort Hood, Ben and Melody Bloker, and their kids. They had days when the house was just open for anyone to stop by, so soldiers would come hang out to get away from the base. So many people came- they had 10 to 15 soldiers there the whole time! We just hung out and played games. Another night they held a Bible study and 70 came. We did worship, a sermon, and ate dinner together. Then they hung out with us until 11 at night after getting there at 4. When the summer was over, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is so cool.’ That was when Ben and Melody offered me a job: ‘We’re moving to Spain next year. You can come along if you want.’ Saying ‘yes’ was a no-brainer. There’s a Navy base in Rota, Spain, and Ben and Melody have a house right next to it. They have two daughters, Hope and Jess, who are 12 and 16 and still living with them. As a limited-term missionary with Cadence, I’ll be in charge of home schooling them and smoothing their transition, plus helping with young adult and youth ministry on the base. I leave November 15 and I’ll be there until mid-May. This is getting real- I finally have my visa and bought my plane ticket! And the Lord has been so kind to send people to be on my support team. I have a big heart for people who feel lonely, which so many in the military do. They’re hungry for community, and they need Jesus to make their hearts full. By serving them, I hope to get better at meeting people where they are. I want my heart to look more like Christ’s, and one of the things that sticks out about Christ is the compassion He has for His people. So I want to grow in that.
I also want to grow in my trust of where the Lord is taking me. He’s been working in such practical ways this whole journey. There have been times where I’ve had to humble myself and say, ‘Okay, Lord, I’m really discouraged that I’m not fully funded, or still don’t have my visa. What do I do with this, Father?’ And He’s been so kind and patient when I get to those places to send someone who says, ‘Hey, you’re still on the right track.’ Much of that encouragement still comes from friends at CSPC, which has been my home church since sixth grade. It was a beautiful way to grow up. The Lord surrounded me with a group of people who really loved Him, and it was easy for me to do it because everyone else was doing it so well. CSPC was where I learned how to worship, love people, and seek out the lonely. When I was in sixth grade, a couple high school seniors sought me out in the Rejoice Choir. I was small and shy, new and stressed out. Whenever I stood by myself, they’d say ‘Come join in and have fun.’ And I think that’s where I got a heart for doing that for others. And as the years went on, our choir director Jordan Cross helped me grow by putting me in positions of leadership- responsibilities that would grow me but wouldn’t crush me. So I’ve known God’s heart and His care since I was young. Now I get to experience more of that love and deepen that trust, even -and maybe especially- in the aspects of this service that will stretch the bounds of my comfort. He’s not going to give me a stone when I ask for bread. He’s an abundantly generous Father.