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Anastasia’s Ashes

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At 23, Anastasia Sloan had a dream – to travel around the world for a year sharing the love of God. She knew that God had given her great gifts and she wanted to use them to bring hope to those who had nothing. When she talked or wrote about her dream, you could feel her passion for it: “I hav…
By Seth Barnes

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At 23, Anastasia Sloan had a dream – to travel around the world for a year sharing the love of God. She knew that God had given her great gifts and she wanted to use them to bring hope to those who had nothing. When she talked or wrote about her dream, you could feel her passion for it:

“I have been given this life to learn to love and give love just as Jesus did for us. I am so excited that I have been called by God to share His love with His people all around the world! I want to be compassionate, kind, brave.

As I sit around the table with my coworkers and some of my closest friends, they are talking about buying homes, credit scores, having children and what it is like to raise them. All I can immediately think to say is, ‘Your lives are so different than mine!!!’

Is it fair for me to stay at a steady pace never changing, never growing and remaining comfortable with who I am? God has a plan designed for my life. Would I be glorifying Him if I just stood still?”

Her friends looked at Anastasia and worried about her. But she was not one to be intimidated by a challenge. 

Yes, from time to time she felt afraid, but she faced her fears. She knew the stakes and knew that she faced an enemy who wanted to stop her at all costs.

“I’ve never been afraid of anything. Jump off that bridge into the river? I’m there! Repel off the side of the mountain FACE FIRST, I’ve done that too. Snorkel with sharks? Check. I am being shaped into the ultimate warrior for Christ. My dad shared with me this quote: ‘Warriors are not born, and they are not made… Warriors create themselves through trial and error, pain and suffering, and their ability to conquer their own faults…'”

I constantly feel like I am fighting an enemy that is holding me back from this journey. This time I am going to obey. I will be a doer of the word and not just a hearer of the word. Am I ready to pack my bag and travel across the world with people I haven’t met yet? God is our strength. He has reminded me to turn to Him when I am feeling afraid.”

Then a year ago yesterday, just two weeks before World Race training camp, Anastasia was in a terrible car accident. The call came to her family and they rushed to the hospital. Tragically, her life was cut short.

Everyone who knew and loved her was in shock. How could this happen to someone so full of life and purpose? It made no sense.

And what of Anastasia’s dream of traveling the world? Her parents cherished the dream and talked to her teammates about it: “Would you help make it happen?” They asked. “Would you take her ashes with you and scatter them in each of the 11 countries you visit? Would you make it possible for her to join you in a final journey? Will you help her realize her dream of going to the nations?”

Anastasia’s team knew that doing this might be dangerous. Insurance companies warned of the risks of going through customs in various countries with cremated ashes. What were the laws? What if they were mistaken for an illegal substance?

They discussed it. They felt overwhelmed by all that she had committed to pursue her call. Inspired by Anastasia’s life and words, through tears, her team answered Anastasia’s parents, “Yes, we will fulfill Anastasia’s dream.”

And this past year, they did just that, scattering her ashes in each of the 11 countries they visited.

Each time they brought out the container holding her ashes and conducted a service. They sang songs, prayed, and then scattered her ashes to the winds.

At the end of each month, the team moved on while Anastasia and her dream lived on in the country they had visited.

This week, Anastasia will make the final stop on her journey. Her team will scatter her ashes one last time. Each time they’ve done this, they’ve captured it on video (see Anastasia in Bolivia below). And we’ll be compiling a video of all 11 countries as a testimony to her generation.

Anastasia was compelled by the words of Jesus to “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Her life poses the question – How will we respond to that call? 

May her words and passion live on in each of us who saw her example and recognize the value of her dream.

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