When you tell people that you are going to Africa to do mission work the first thing people do is tell you how nice that is and ask if you are going for one or two weeks. After you tell them you are going for a year there is a look of shock and small bit of silence as they try and figure out if you are joking. Once people recover and realize you are serious then usually the next question is, “so how did all this happen” or “why did you decide to do this?” These are loaded questions as they require a few minutes to explain properly.
God is big and He call us all to missions, no matter if it is in a local sense or in a foreign sense. We are told to make disciples of all nations. This is a command to all Christians not just to a Steve Rodgers super missionary type. God is sovereign and uses different people and methods to move us and refine us. The people who He first used to plant a missionary seed was my cousin Steven and his wife Amanda. They might be a Captain America and Black Widow type of super missionary, though they would say they are just faithful. They went and served overseas for many years. Seeing them at a family reunion and looking over their prayer cards it must have done something in us, because we started talking about doing mission work but it would be on our time. You know, down the road when the kids are grown and gone. God works on His time and He expects us to do the same.
Fast forward a bit and my oldest daughter gets a gift from a friend at her writer’s circle group. It is a book called Kisses from Katie, by Katie Davis. If Steven and Amanda planted the seed, then this book was the Miracle-Gro. This lady, who started at 18, went and served in Uganda working with children and the poor. She broke free from an upper middle class life and went to the poor. In her book, she took older blog post and put them in the book to read. She talked about how God was stripping her down and revealing the raw need of the world. Not just for things, but for hope that only comes through knowing Jesus. As we read the book, Emma then Sara then me, all felt this desire to do more. We came to realize how comfortable we were in our life. We were striving for the American dream, nothing fancy but always better than what we had. Why were we not doing more? Why did we not sacrifice more? How could this young lady go and put God’s work ahead of her own? As I said this book rocked us.
I work with teenagers in a youth group. They are loud, fun, and spontaneous. They are imperfect and love Jesus. One day while scrolling through Facebook post I see a post by some group called Africa Inland Mission. I’m not sure how I started following this group, but there it was and it stated they had over 250 short term opportunities available. Right in the middle it said “youth ministry”. It caught my attention. I decided to check out their webpage and it looked neat. At the time, we didn’t have a mortgage and really didn’t have much holding us back. Francis Chan says we need to default to action and wait for God to say no instead of always waiting for God to throw neon signs at us. With that in mind I approached Sara with and told her I thought we might be able to do mission work for a month or so. Sara wanted to do a year.
We applied. We did a prelim app and were asked to do a full application. We did and we were asked to do a skype interview. We kept waiting for God to say no but the doors just kept opening. We did our interview and waited. Sometime later we were accepted as short term missionaries. God is amazing. You don’t realize how He will use little things to move your heart and push you towards His will. When those things align, then amazing things happen. I hope this story will give you a small glimpse of how we got to the point where we were willing to go and serve. I don’t know where this story will end or what His future plans are for us, but I do know that we want to be a part of them. Soli Deo Gloria.