Hull, Iowa is a small, midwestern town devoted mostly to agriculture. This is the hometown where Ellie and I were born and raised. We were both raised in Christian homes and throughout our lives we have been exposed to solid, Biblical training in the home, school and church.
I have thought about and even at times, felt called to be a missionary. But who was I? What were my qualifications to be a missionary? After all, I wasn’t a preacher and didn’t feel drawn to that. I wasn’t a pilot. Becoming a doctor certainly wasn’t on my horizon. I ended up paying little attention to those ideas of being called except for the occasional passing thought.
Eventually, I went on a few short-term mission trips. The first was to Zimbabwe with three others. Having spent some time in Africa while during my career in the US Army, the thought of returning to the continent was compelling. I felt a strong call to go. My co-travelers were a pastor, a physician’s assistant, and a social worker. Each of them had plans for what they would do, but when I was asked what I would do, I just said that I’d help the others out when and where I could to support whatever they were planning.
During the “get to know you” session, our host found out that I had some technology experience. After that, each person who came in to meet with us would eventually ask, “Which one of you is the IT guy?” I suddenly became everyone’s best friend.
That first experience with missions was an eye opener to me. I realized that my preconceived notion of what a missionary was supposed to look like was extremely limiting. My heart for and call to missions was growing. There were a few other opportunities to go on short term mission trips and they were all wonderful experiences. But there was more.
Then, to bring the point home to me, in 2016 God began closing doors to employment opportunities. A position that was closed. Consultant work and full time opportunities were all closed off. Responses like, “We decided not to fill that position or you are overqualified”. All I could see was a long hallway of closed doors.
But way down the dark hallway was a stream of light from a single open door. A post from Wycliffe Bible Translators caught my attention (More about this in another blog entitled: Linked to Missions).
We prayed. We sought God’s wisdom, discernment, and leading. We asked other believers to pray with us to do the same. The sense of calling was greater and greater. Then, while attending our church in Sioux Falls, we heard a sermon from Judges 6. This was Gabriel’s call. When Pastor Kyle stopped and declared that someone in the congregation was hearing the call, but coming up with a resume of excuses why not to go.
God’s plan for reaching the Bibleless people of the world is using us, all of us. It was the last thing that he told the disciples before going to Heaven. In Matthew 28, Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
God desires our participation. He wants to act through us. Not around us. He could certainly do it without us, but He didn’t want to. God calls every believer to be a servant and equips each one with spiritual gifts to serve others. In whatever role we do, we do it to the glory of God.