Get to Know Vanessa
Vanessa VanCleave is an intercessory missionary, Bible teacher, and blogger whose mission is to inspire, encourage, and motivate others to connect with God and fulfill their unique purpose. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English/writing from East Central University in Ada, OK and a master’s degree in Education Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She received ministry training at the Berean School of the Bible, as well as Victory Bible Institute School of Worship. Vanessa is also a graduate of Christian Leaders Authors and Speakers Services (CLASS).
Her essay “Happy Go Home” and poems “No Place Like Home” and “Do Not Resuscitate” won the Originals (East Central University Literary Arts Magazine) award for creative nonfiction and poetry two years in a row. Her articles have appeared in Today’s Christian Woman and Guideposts magazines.
Often, you can find her reading, playing piano, or most recently, trying to learn how to play the ukulele. She is the author of Hearing AIDS: How a Deaf Child Taught Me to Hear from God. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Jeff and daughter Savannah.
Q&A with Vanessa
You are an intercessory missionary. What are some lessons God has taught you through this ministry?
That ministry unto Him in the place of prayer and worship IS real ministry. In Luke 2:37, it says that Anna “served God with fastings and prayers night and day”. Fasting and prayer was counted as service to and for the Lord! Anna was also an evangelist because the Scripture says she spoke of Jesus to “all who were seeking redemption” in Jerusalem. I’ve learned that although God’s love is for everyone, not everyone is seeking redemption or even looking for God’s love. When we spend time in the place of prayer, God leads us to and highlights those who are “seeking” and gives us anointed words that bless, heal and change lives.
I have often heard the message preached “the harvest is plenty and the laborers are few,” (Matthew 9:37) and interpreted it to mean therefore GO. But the next verse (Jesus’ next instruction) is “therefore pray to the Lord of the harvest….” Yes, we need laborers but our main objective should always be to first, pray. The prophet Isaiah saw the beauty of God in the temple, and said, “send me.” (Isaiah 6) He was then equipped and sent out but the revelation of the beauty of God came first.
Your daughter Maegan is in heaven now. What are some common misconceptions about AIDS you’d like to eliminate?
Many people share my own previous misconception, addressed in my book (Hearing AIDS), that since Jeff had been married and obviously intimate with Maegan’s mother, that he too must have been infected with HIV. It is more difficult, though, for women to transmit the disease to men than for men to transmit it to women. I also thought at first that HIV could “lie dormant” and suddenly “show up” months or years later, even after a negative test. If a person continues to test negative, however, six months after any exposure, he or she will not develop the disease unless there is another exposure.
Much more is known about HIV and AIDS since Maegan was alive. I remember being in a college class once several years ago where the instructor (of future teachers) actually said, “we really don’t know how AIDS is transmitted…” I was stunned. Uhhh, yes we do! More people are aware of how it is spread now and because of new treatments, people with AIDS are living longer. But since AIDS is not causing as many deaths and is not as often in the news, it’s “out of sight, out of mind” and many believe it is not still a problem.
There is still no cure and AIDS is still spreading with devastating effects in many parts of the world. I am hoping Maegan’s story will help she light on the continuing need for education and research, as well as encourage others to help children in other countries get the medication they need through organizations like Compassion.
You stay busy with Frontier Missions, IHOPKC, 24/7, and more! How do you find the time to help so many people?
Being clear about my personal mission and why I am here is the key! My mission statement acts like both a harness and a sword, connecting me to what is most important and cutting away what is not. In Luke 4:42-44, Jesus had been ministering and healing in a certain town. It was a good work, but after He spent time in His “solitary place”, time of prayer and communion with the Father, he told them he must leave and go to other towns because “that is why I was sent….” When we know “why we are sent”, we are able to say no to even good things so that we can focus on God’s best. I don’t say “yes” to every opportunity just because it’s something I would be good at or even something I would like to do.
At the age of 8, Maegan stated her mission, “I came here to teach people about love and about Jesus and now I have to go back home to heaven.” She knew her personal mission and completed her assignment on earth. This has caused me to spend my time discovering my own mission and helping others to find theirs as well.
My personal mission statement is “to inspire, encourage, and motivate others to connect with God and fulfill their unique purpose.” I can do this while writing a book or blog post, teaching at Forerunner Christian Academy, speaking to a small or large church group, or having a private mentoring session in a coffee shop. When I am doing this, I am “me” and I feel most alive. It also helps me to say no to opportunities that may be good things, but are not “why I was sent.” In John 17, Jesus said, “Glorify me father….. for I have finished the work you gave me to do (on earth).” Not all the sick people were healed, not all the demons were cast out, but He had poured HIs life into 12 men who would carry His message all over the world. At the end of my life, I don’t want to present a long list of good things that I accomplished, only to have God ask me, “But what about this thing I asked you to do?” I want to be like Maegan and hear Him say, “Well done.”