Long-time ACE volunteer Tina Gerke shared the following story with our team after her recent trip to Jamaica.

It’s been almost 23 years since I first stepped foot in Jamaica. I would have never believed all the changes and lessons that I was to learn along the way! Being so young in leadership, I thought I knew a whole lot. My passion did not match my wisdom though, and God was so patient in molding and pruning me. 

Not often do I stop and take a good long look back. But my last two weeks at ACE have given me that exact opportunity. A look back at hopes and dreams, some that have been realized and some that were shattered, walking a road that I could not even see when I first started saying yes to Jesus! 

What I didn’t realize then was that God had plans for me that involved crossed paths with Allen, Marla, and the whole ACE family. People that became family and mentors long before I even knew I needed them. I have watched for decades as they have, without fail, remained steadfast and obedient. The lessons I have learned watching them, learning from them, and seeing them walk out their faith is reflected through our ministry and how God has molded me to be.  

God doesn’t always do what we want. I am hard headed and always had to learn the hard way. I wanted my way and even thought that my way was surely right and better. 

I had a dream of speaking and writing a book of devotions one day. I used to dream of having audiences sitting at the edge of their seats listening with anticipation of jumping up in surrender and it was all because of what I said! Dreaming of people loving me and my ministry. And in the ugliness of my pride, God started pruning. I found myself softening and listening more than talking. And my passionate speeches actually turned into passionate prayers. I have been walking a road of getting older with not as much energy or capacity to keep up with my 20-year-old Tina expectations. 

BUT what I have fallen in love with is the fact that my expectations of myself aren’t even close to what God actually wants to use me for. Once I started truly surrendering, I realized that He has been developing me into someone I wouldn’t have even recognized two decades ago! Someone who now is blessed beyond words to pray over people. I have been beaten up enough in life to know that it isn’t Tina’s words, or Tina’s actions that will ever save anyone. Tina can’t defeat an enemy on her own, one that won’t ever stop warring against her God. BUT GOD CAN! And not only can He but HE WILL! 

I sat on the rock this past month reflecting on all of the places God has allowed me to go and see and the people He has brought in and out of my life. How so many of our stories intersect right there on that tiny island in one of the poorest areas we will ever visit. Surrounded by more joy and love than most will ever feel. 

ACE has given me such a gift in allowing me to glean from every area of their ministry. To not only become lifelong friends with so many, but family! 

Just this past trip, I got to witness a young man become overcome with the Spirit moving that after praying over D’Vaun, he sprinted to the rock and fell on his knees before the Lord. 

I have seen kids cry out to Jesus to heal, break chains, and use them! I have kids and adults come face to face with sin and fall on their knees before Jesus. So much healing, so much life and so much love! 

People used to ask me why I keep going back to the same place, and my response will never change. You build relationships with people and show them along the way in addition to telling them about Jesus. And that changes everything. 

Thank you, ACE! Thank you, Allen and Marla, for being the obedient servants that have prayed over a community, land, island, and people for decades! Because of your obedience, you have been able to use your place for more than Jamaican ministry, but also for a host of Americans whose lives will eternally be different! Mine at the top of the list.

Tina Gerke