People sometimes ask me why I ever wanted to go into missions. Why would I give up the potential for a high paying job, a normal life, the American dream – to work just as hard for no money, (except for what was given to me), in a foreign and possibly dangerous culture. For years, I’ve had to justify my dreams to friends and family who simply didn’t understand why I wanted to study missions rather than engineering or education. Some of them probably think I’m throwing my life – my potential – away.
But I simply can’t see it like that.
There’s something to be said on the concept of “calling.” Since I was about twelve years old I’ve felt “called” to become a missionary. At the time, I had absolutely no idea what that meant. I pictured myself on adventures in African jungles, in spiritual battles with witchdoctors, building houses in impoverished areas, and playing with adorable, malnourished, children. My twelve year old imagination drew fascinating but terrifying pictures.
And I still knew nothing about what missions actually was.
When it came time for me to choose a college, I still didn’t have any ideas about how I could pursue this calling in today’s world. On a whim, I searched for schools with missions programs and discovered Asbury University – and the rest is history. I graduated last May with a degree in Music and two minors, one in Spanish and the other – in Missions.
While I was in school at Asbury, loving every minute of it, I paid close attention to every discussion on the concept of “calling.” Repeatedly, chapel speakers and professors talked about how all Christians share a common calling – to love God – and that the rest, the specific jobs we do, are vocations. And I was confused – why was it, then, that pastors and missionaries talked about their “calling” into ministry?
At one point, I asked my pastor a similar question: how did he know that he was called into the ministry and that it wasn’t just his own desire? His answer was a simple one but it has stuck with me to this day: he knew that it couldn’t have been him because he would have never come up with it on his own; it was too crazy, too unconventional.
Once, a professor told an introductory ministry class: “If you can picture yourself doing anything else, do it.”
This struck me hard. Could I picture myself doing anything else?
I’d always wondered how much of my desire to go into missions had come from my thirst for adventure; from the restlessness I’ve always felt in staying in one place for too long. I certainly couldn’t picture myself at a desk job. I might be able to pull off teaching. But, then again, education and missions aren’t exactly mutually exclusive. Performance might be fun for awhile but I certainly couldn’t keep it up for very long.
Could I picture myself doing anything else? Not really, no.
But I also wasn’t sure I could picture myself in full-time missions. I’m not sure I can, even now.
But, I suppose, that’s where faith comes in. If we had a road map of God’s plan for our lives, we would either run screaming or, worse, think we could follow the path on our own. So He doesn’t give us the details; doesn’t even necessarily give us the outline. But He does give us enough to trust that He will lead us the rest of the way.
And even though I can’t see past this next step, I know that I’m following the path as He leads me – and it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
But I’m also excited to see what’s in store. The next year of full-time ministry on the mission field is the beginning of what I’ve been preparing for; the first step in a new journey. And I am beyond elated.
But I still need your help. I’m about 24% of the way to my fund-raising goal thanks to several generous donations but I can’t start work on the field until I reach 100%. To those who’ve already given – thank you so much! I’m incredibly grateful for your support. Words cannot express my gratitude. To everyone else – I encourage you to join me in ministry, particularly if you’re not already supporting missions in some way. God desires all of His Church to be involved in missions – and this is an opportunity for you to do so; to make a difference in the lives of native people in the American southwest. To spread the Gospel in the desert and on across the mountains!