I finished my application to The Master’s Mission after two months of application in hand. I am applying for candidacy to their training program for 2012! I was stuck on one of the questions for months, now, and I finally was able to finish answering it.
The question: How do you know you are called to missionary service?
John 15:16a “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit..”
I could go on to list multiple scripture references of God commanding His people to go, share the Gospel with those who do not know, but I don’t need to do so in order to convey to you the assurance I have in the calling He has on my life.
The Lord placed a desire for missionary service on my heart at such a young age, I don’t really know that I ever thought about being anything else. Well, I suppose that’s not entirely true. I did want to be a race car driver at one point and a professional singer later in life, but God has been ever so faithful in closing the doors that would lead me away from His desire for my life.
I declared to my family at the age of four I would be a foreign missionary to New York City! For a four year old, NYC is very foreign, indeed. My “obsession” continued over the years. Every missionary I met I would shove my white Precious Moments bible into their hands demanding their autograph! Each autograph bringing me closer to the mission field, and each story helping to imprint the desire of full-time service onto my heart, even though I didn’t really understand what it all meant.
The years past, and life happened, as it tends to do. My thirst for missionary service was thrust to a small corner of my heart to which I refused to pay attention.
However, the Lord is faithful. Finishing my high school education, I began attending junior college the summer after I graduated. I began to attend the Baptist Student Ministries Wednesday lunches. Being a minister’s kid, I immediately became as involved as my schedule would allow. I found myself on the leadership council, and quickly integrating myself into the lives of my BSM leader and his family.
During the summer of 2000, I learned about the summer missions BSM supported. I also learned I would need 60 college credits to even be able to apply. I had graduated high school with 12 hours of college credit due to dual credit courses. So, I took as many classes in the summer as I could, and registered for the fall and spring semesters with overloaded schedules. I applied for the summer of 2001, and was accepted for a month long mission trip to Boston! I was excited! I spent the summer with four other students from Texas helping individuals in Boston, and the surrounding areas, begin the slow process of church planting. Knocking on doors, surveying, and building relationships with local communities was not something I would say came easy. However, God did not call us to live a life of easy, He called us to the live the life He chose for us, for the servant is not greater than the master!
I could go over every “mission” opportunity I have had, and took advantage of, since then, but I don’t really need to do so. God began to mold my heart for what would be the life He desired me to have.
He began to give me opportunities to be away from home, to learn to be independent, and to learn to be self-sufficient. Since my initial service in Boston, I have been to Kenya three times (twice by myself), Jamaica, and all over Texas (locally and regionally).
The first time I heard about our church (the church I am currently attending) participating in global missions, a team from the church was going to London. While I really wanted to participate, I knew I was not called. So I did not apply. Multiple trips to Mexico were being made, but again, I knew I was not called to go, so I did not apply. The moment I heard about the possibility of our church taking a trip to Kenya I knew I had to be a part of the team. I didn’t know what I had to offer, but I was certain I needed to be on the team. There was something in my heart pulling me toward this mission opportunity.
When it was announced a portion of the team would be doing music ministry, I was even more convinced I was to go on the trip. I applied, and was asked to be a part of the team in 2004.
I can recall, with complete clarity, landing in Nairobi after the dreadful 18 hours in the air. I was tired, sore, and ready to have a little alone time, which was certainly not going to happen any time soon. Getting off the plane I didn’t know what to expect. Then it hits you: the heat, the smell, the immediate suffocation of something “different”. I knew I was home. The feeling washed over me and took my by complete surprise. This was it. I was supposed to be here, and it thrilled me!
Traveling out to Masai Mara was quite the experience. Once there I was ready to begin work as part of the “music” portion of the team. I quickly learned the first rule of missions: BE FLEXIBLE!
I spent more time in the kitchen washing dishes and peeling potatoes than anything else, and I was glad to do so. Not only was I able to help our missionary “mother”, I was able to sit at the feet of one of the wisest women I have ever encountered. I learned more about missions, ministry, and Christ in the few days I spent with her than in my whole life up to that particular moment. I did participate in music things some, but that’s not why God had sent me to Kenya. He sent me there to begin the stirring in my heart for His ultimate plan for my life.
It took me four years to make it back to Kenya, but I did. Traveling alone abroad for the first time in my life, I spent a month in Kenya experiencing two vastly different types of ministry. Two weeks in Kijabe Kenya and two weeks in Masai Mara. It didn’t take long for me to know which I preferred, and for which I felt God calling me.
“Bush” style living suited me. It did then, and still does. The desperation and need of those who have never heard the name Jesus burdens my heart. I long to be out reaching the unreached, loving the unloved. Who is willing to go and live in nothing, to gain nothing, but to give everything? Not many, but I know that is exactly what God has called me to do, whether it be in the bush of Kenya or the jungles of South Africa or South America. Wherever it may be, I am willing to go, and I’m willing to do it alone.
You ask me how I know God has called me to missionary service, and I know because His word commands me, His word commands us all to be missionaries, He has opened doors of opportunity, and He has always provided financially. Those things alone would serve as confirmation to His calling on my life, but He also has provided support in the form of my family, friends, and church family. The full support of my parents overwhelms me, but helps to affirm God’s calling. I know not of any parents who would be willing, supportive, and excited to see their only daughter move halfway across the world to serve as a single missionary unless God had provided peace and confirmation to their hearts. Parents who are not just supportive, but having confidence it is what God has called their daughter do, friends who are not believers, yet know with confidence it is what I am to do, and, lastly, my church family, the individuals who have helped me to grow in Christ. Individuals who, are so certain and confident, are willing to stand by me and send me into full-time service, this also helps to affirm God’s call on my life.
His hand is on me, has always been on me, directing me, administering grace to me, and saving me from my poor choices. Always ready to guide me back to His open arms. I know He has called me to missionary, I know because His word tells me to go, His Son died so I might go, and the Holy Spirit constantly reaffirms I am to go through His word, His people, and the doors He opens and closes.