I grew up in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa. I was incredibly, even painfully, shy. It was hard for me to talk to people, even to my own grandparents, aunts or uncles. I was bullied in elementary school and middle school, and both my parents had drinking problems. There was a time in my childhood when I had said the “sinner’s prayer,” but my relationship with God felt distant because of the struggles I was facing.
In 2007 I traveled to Australia on my first missions trip. To be honest, I signed up just because I wanted to go there, not because I wanted Jesus to transform me. I encountered God on an Australian mountaintop, where the Holy Spirit took hold of me and challenged me to commit my life to Jesus. In the years since, I’ve taken three short-term missions trips and spent two months working alongside missionaries in Zambia. There I felt the tug to pursue full-time, cross-cultural ministry.
One of my most memorable trips was to Jamaica in 2010, where I experienced life at an infirmary. Hundreds of disabled and elderly people were sent to live there because of the burden they placed on their caregivers. The place was filthy and the people, mistreated. I will never forget the smell of the place and the sound of the patients moaning in pain and misery. This was a turning point for me, the moment I realized the Lord had laid a burden on my heart. I was to bring the gospel to orphans, people with disabilities and those marginalized in society.
While driving to our destination during a missions trip in the Central African Republic, my heart was torn to pieces as young, emaciated children along the road begged me for food and water.
In April 2015 I talked to John Fuller, senior pastor of multisite Prairie Lakes Church, about my call to missions and what steps I should take to pursue being a missionary. He told me about Converge and their missions work in Africa. I connected with Ivan Veldhuizen, executive director of International Ministries, and ended up joining a Converge team on a trip to the West Coast of Africa last February. As on previous trips I had taken, I saw among the people a deeper hunger to grow in their faith and to reach their own people. After leaving Africa, I knew it is where the Lord wants me.
My dream is to never stop learning and growing in my understanding of the world around me and to empower others to do the same. I desire deeply to create awareness in the church of the world’s vulnerable populations and our responsibility as Christ-followers to care for and speak up for them.
I will be working in Togo, West Africa, for five years. I will build relationships with members of Togolese communities, encourage local Christian leaders to care for the vulnerable in their community and incorporate them into the local church, and eventually send those leaders out to reach more vulnerable people in additional communities.
I can’t wait to serve in Togo. All of their lives orphans, the disabled and the marginalized have been told they are worthless. I can’t wait to see the look in their eyes when they finally realize they are sons and daughters of the King, made in his image – and are loved and worth dying for.
Azlyn McCarthy, Missionary
Help Azlyn as she works with her team to bring God's Light into the darkness through a church planting movement in Southern Togo.