The Ordinary Project understands that regular people are the ones truly leaving their mark on this crazy world–marks of courage and hope, selflessness and sacrifice, love and faith.
And, while we will never be able to acknowledge every single unsung hero, my mission with The Ordinary Project is to do exactly as the name suggests: recognize and honor those ordinary people who are coloring the world a more beautiful place, simply because they believe it should be done, typically without any promise of reward or even acknowledgement.
I have a small list of ordinaries whose stories I hope to share, but I would be honored if you chose to send me the names and contact information of ordinary people in your own life that deserve to be known! You may do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, today, it is with great pleasure that I introduce to you: Madison Millikan.
Madison and I actually grew up together. We were in the same class from preschool through high school graduation, and when we were five and six years old, we took dance classes together. I still remember playing dress up with our Beanie Babies™ between school and dance, and my heart is so happy to see how God is using her for His glory!
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF. (HOBBIES)
I love anything to do with journaling or calligraphy, I’d like to think I’m perfecting my handwriting.( it’s a very long working process) I also love playing volleyball or any sports. And if I had it my way, I’d spend my days on the beach!
WHAT IS THE WORLD RACE?
The world race is a mission trip for young adults. It sets you up with a team of other missionaries. From there you are sent to a country and set up with a host that has ministry opportunities for you to help serve. Ministry can look from anything like construction to hospital visits, teaching in schools or VBS, evangelism, to feedings. Whatever the need is, you’re there to serve in the best way possible.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN ON THE WORLD RACE? AND WHEN WILL YOU RETURN HOME?
I am on month 7 of my race and return home at the end of month 9! I left in August and I return in the beginning of May!
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE AN ORDINARY HERO?
I think an ordinary hero is someone who goes out of there way to help others. They put others need before there self.
WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A HERO? WHY OR WHY NOT?
No, when I think of the word hero, I think of someone saving others. I don’t think I’m a hero because honestly I’m just following Gods call for my life. He told me to leave and be a missionary and I said yes. It was almost that simple. God has called us to love His people and that’s really all I’m doing.
WHAT COUNTRIES HAVE YOU VISITED SO FAR? WHAT DO YOU HAVE LEFT?
Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia, Macedonia, Greece, Philippines, South Africa. I have none left. South Africa is my last!
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF THE RACE?
You are constantly being asked of. You’re constantly giving every part of yourself; spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental. You are called to speak life and love into others at every possible moment. You are asked to be constantly aware of your spirituality and being willing to freely give. You are called to basically be Jesus to a hurting world, and it is exhausting as a mere human. Your tank is almost constantly being drained, while it is so hard to be refilled.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST REWARDING?
Being the hands and feet of Jesus in some of the most poverty stricken areas of the world. We are all called to love Gods people, to make disciples and to spread the gospel but it’s always going to look different in each life. In my life, God has called me to do these things, be his hands and feet across the nation. I get to feed starving bellies, clean small hands and feet, touch hearts with prayer and love people like Jesus would have and because of that I reap the rewards of that calling. And honestly there is nothing that compares. There’s nothing that compares to the smiles and laughs, the gratitude you receive or the genuine love, hugs and kisses.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY?
My favorite memory happened just a few days after landing in South Africa. We were doing street evangelism at a local grocery center and God showed up in so many ways that day. We first met a lady named Susan, she was passionate for the Lord and her peers to know the Lord. After we prayed over her she asked us to follow her and pray over her friend Johanna. So we did. We followed Susan around the back of this grocery store up the stairs to a break room. Where we met Johanna. We prayed for healing and family restoration over her and when we were finished we turned around and hands started to rise. We prayed over 15 to 20 people in a grocery store break room in South Africa! For healing, restoration, success, and multiple other requests and tears flowed and prayers were answered. I have never felt the holy spirt so present before, it was the most incredible encounter. It continued to show me how faithful God is, and how He showed up when I gave him the space to. I’ll always treasure and never forget that experience.
HOW HAS IT STRENGTHENED YOU AS A PERSON?
I think in one area I’ve been strengthened as a person is having to leave all comforts and rely fully on the Lord. Leaving home, family and traveling in third world countries for 9 months is hard. When things get hard and uncomfortable at home, you have close friends, family, your favorite foods and coffee shops (Starbucks) to go to. But when I was living life in the Philippines and got diagnosed with a tropical disease during Thanksgiving, and was super homesick, I didn’t have my comforts to turn to. I didn’t have mom to take care of me, but I had the Lord. I’ve learned that He is a source of more comfort than I have ever known and He is the source of all my strength.
WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO BECOME A WORLD RACER?
I’ve always had a heart for missions every since my first mission trip to Puerto Rico. God broke my heart for the need around me and opened my eyes to so many things. After that trip I was determined to make missions part of my life some how some way. Then junior year of college came around and I was restless, I could feel my heart longing for something more but I don’t know what. After all I had two more years of school. But in those months God spoke amazing things over me. He told me I was restless for a reason. That there is something so much bigger out there for me to experience. And I prayed for God to give me an answer, a call of some kind, and He asked me if I would go? And saying yes at the time, little did I know it would be 9 months! But I’m so glad I said yes to following Gods call to put me on the world race because it’s changed my life in more ways than one.
WHATS YOUR FAVORITE QUALITY ABOUT YOURSELF?
Intentional. I love the act of forming and building relationships. I love being intentional in friendships and with people and truly trying to see them for where they are in life. My favorite part about being intentional is getting past the luke-warm surface level questions and being able to speak life into each other, pray over each other’s needs, and share deep life happenings. I also just truly love seeing and knowing people. There is no better way to be able to be a light in someone’s life than to truly know them well.
WHAT IS A QUALITY YOU HOPE TO WORK ON? Why?
Confidence. I’ve never been a person whose walked with a lot of confidence. Ive always second guessed myself and had a hard time trusting my first instinct. Even when I feel like I have some wisdom to share or the Lord has given me something I continue to doubt myself. I want confidence to be something I take ahold more. I want to walk in boldness not meekness. I don’t want to be afraid to share what the Lord has put on my heart but be generous in sharing. I want to walk in the confidence that the Lord has called upon me as a daughter of the King.
WHAT IS YOUR LIFE MOTTO OR LIFE MOTTO YOU HAVE BEEN LIVING BY THESE PAST MONTHS?
“Great people don’t do great things. God does great things through surrendered people.” –Jennie Allen
I love this because it’s not about who we are or what we have to offer but how much of ourselves we are willing to let go and let God take control of. Ultimately nothing is done by our power but His alone when we give Him the space to move in our lives.
WHAT DO YOU FEEL MOST GRATEFUL FOR AT THIS POINT IN YOUR LIFE?
I am most grateful for the love and support from friends and family. To be on this trip I had to raise 14,000 dollars! That’s insane! My friends and family first had to be willing to say yes to financially support me and then God used them to provide in crazy ways! Also, I’ve been gone for 7 months, I’ve seen hard things, deep poverty, I’ve been homesick. My friends and family have been amazing prayer warriors and great emotional support on days when I just can’t take it any more, they are there to listen and support. I honestly could have never made it this far without there love, support, and prayers.
WHO HAS IMPACTED YOU MOST AND HOW?
Karlette Yoder [side note: Karlette and her family will be on the blog later this week!!]. She was my high school youth leader, now my friend and mentor. She impacted me in so many ways. When I was in high school, God wasn’t my first priority and my faith wavered a lot. But she was always a constant source of encouragement for me. She saw my hurt but she also saw my heart. Karlette was always that light and that truth that I needed to hear. I am so grateful for the love and depth that she shared with me, without her vulnerability I wouldn’t be where I am today.
IF YOU COULD LEAVE A LASTING IMPACT OR LEGACY WITH THOSE WHO KNOW YOUR STORY, what WOULD IT BE?
I want people to look at my life and see Jesus. I want them to think “wow, she was the Lord’s servant, and she lived in His will!” I want to be known for loving God’s people well, for making His name known and making disciples. I want my story to carry no doubt, that people will just know that I loved the Lord and His people till the end of my days.
IS THERE SOMEONE IN YOUR LIFE YOU WOULD LIKE TO HONOR AS AN ORDINARY HERO?
My mom. As long as I can remember my mom has put others before herself. At home she puts her children way before herself at work she put her patients and coworkers before herself. As I’ve grown up and watched my mom from a distance I’ve seen how selfless and incredible she truly is. My mom brings a peace wherever she goes, she embodies strength, she has a heart for all and she walks with the Lord. She’s an ordinary hero in my eyes.
May we all be ordinary heroes, right where we are.