Every journey to serving in missions is unique. It may be a “lightning bolt” moment or a certainty that grows out of an experience. Some have sensed God’s leading to be involved in global mission at age 5 and some closer to age 65.
What does a missionary look like? Are you ready to consider that a missionary may look just like you?
I knew from the time I was 11 years old that God had called me specifically to missions. I remember standing up and coming forward to the altar during our local Wesleyan church’s missions conference to say “yes” and commit my life to serving the Lord as a missionary.
The call was not revealed all at once; rather, my heart has been shaped by many small yeses. Saying yes to opportunities to love and serve people through youth mission trips (local, national and international) instilled a healthy scope and sequence of the Great Commission. Saying yes to teaching experiences in both a Native American reservation school and in a public-school setting set a foundation in my career field and revealed the possibilities of using teaching as a catalyst for tent-making ministry. A two-year volunteer opportunity in the Caribe-Atlantic area permanently solidified the call to use my gifts to go to the ends of the earth. But first he (God) asked that I say yes and pursue a master’s degree in special education in order to equip myself more fully for long-term ministry.
As the story continues to gradually unfold in my life, God is revealing his use of the yeses, both big and small, to lead me to the point I am now. I am leaning in, ready and willing to launch long-term and go to the ends of the earth. I am finding that incremental and seemingly insignificant steps of faith lead to incredibly big things. Send me, Lord. Yes, I will go.
In August of 2018, I came to Cambodia to serve a six-month term to see what ministry overseas was like. Those six months were the most eye-opening, exciting and challenging months of my life. I saw a new form of persecution in an East Asian country where new believers are fighting a battle between their cultural family and true faith in Jesus.
When I came back to America, I wanted to take some time for prayer and discernment on God’s calling over my life. After several months, it was obvious my heart was still in Cambodia. God has put on my heart the desire to disciple youth and to help them understand that making the decision to follow Christ is worth the cost. I pursued this calling and committed to becoming a long-term missionary in Cambodia with Global Partners. I am now nearing the end of my first year on the mission field, and I have never been so confident that I am exactly where God wants me!
One Sunday evening during my first year of college, I sat in the cool sanctuary of my newly adopted church, listening to the speaker lay out the command for every believer to join in God’s mission. I was the consummate church kid, and this was nothing new for me. The speaker laid out the options, challenging us to be praying and giving, and “Some of you,” he said, “need to be going.”
As he reached that last point, suddenly my heart began to pound, and I felt a very clear sense that it was I who should go. Me — the introverted, fearful, small-town, directionally-challenged freshman — and God wanted to send me to distant places?
For a few moments I sat, wondering if this truly could be God’s direction for me. But the Holy Spirit compelled me to take those first steps and I rose and went forward to pray. I felt a peace and certainty after praying that night that only grew in the weeks and months that followed, as I began to study missions and then months later boarded my first flight to join a short-term mission team for a youth camp in Russia. When it was tempting to be overwhelmed by how much I didn’t know, I discovered that my desire to learn was a quality God could use. In mission trips and as I got to know international students, I found my reluctance to take center stage helped me to be comfortable to wait and listen to others’ stories and build trusting relationships, even with language barriers. After serving 18 years overseas with my family and three years helping equip others to go, God is still showing me new and unexpected opportunities he has prepared for me to join him in his mission.
I have never seen myself as the perfect missionary candidate. But God keeps reminding me he doesn’t need me to be perfect, only willing.
Luke 10:2 tell us that “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Would you be willing to pray that prayer with an open heart? Maybe God is talking about you.
Global Partners missionaries