A Missionary Heart

Posted On September 11, 2011

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When I was nineteen years old, God spoke to me. I don’t mean in an audible voice, but if you think back, you can probably remember a time when God clearly spoke something to you, too. On that July afternoon, He spoke three things to me.

1. I would go to Bible school ( a real heart desire, but I was already at a regular university and didn’t see a way that could happen for me.)

2. I would meet my husband there. (Good news! I had been praying a lot about that.)

3. I was called to missions. ( This made me extremely happy because I had read stacks of missionary books and admired them greatly. A side note – my favorite was about Adoniram Judson. If you haven’t read about him, you must.)

Two years later, I graduated from college and headed off to Baton Rouge, LA to Bible school. It was the most surreal and happy time of my life, up to that point of my life. And yes, I did meet my husband, Dave, there…but that’s another story.

Fast forward to 1989 when Dave and I were married and moved to Teen Challenge in Colfax, Iowa. Dave had been a student of Teen Challenge himself and loved working with the students there. We started a family with normal, happy expectations. But we never quite reached that place as two of our children were born with cerebral palsy. It was quite a detour and that also, makes a whole other story. But there were many, many times over the next several years when I wondered about that last word the Lord had given me.

I had actually went on a missions trip while in school and quite frankly, bombed. The people of the country were wonderful and so hospitable. But I didn’t speak the language (big mistake to do that) and really didn’t know any of the other people I was on the trip with (mistake #2). I was homesick and had signed up for a 1 month trip (mistake #3). After I came home, I felt embarrassed that I had ever told anyone that I wanted to be a missionary.

I wondered if Teen Challenge could be considered missions. After all, it was home missions, wasn’t it? But I was home changing diapers, not really being useful in any way to the ministry of Teen Challenge, besides supporting Dave as he worked with the guys there.

Now as I’m older, I still wonder about that call. Maybe I missed what God meant altogether. I surely could have.

But now I look at my children and remind God of their futures. I would love to see them love another people and country as much as they love home here. I still think being a missionary is the highest calling.

I’ve asked God several times over the years if I made a mistake when I heard Him speak. The only thing I believe I’ve heard Him say about it is that I admired their (missionaries) commitment. Maybe I mixed up commitment with a call, I’m not sure. But whichever it is, I still love sending missionaries out from our church and will always tell stories to my kids about those who gave everything for another land. “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.” I think someday in heaven we will meet many, many people who are not well known in this life, but their names will be well known there.

College educations are a blessing, degrees are great, nice homes are nice, but giving our children something to live towards is the greatest thing we can instill within them. Maybe in that way, I can fulfill that missions call.

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2 Responses to “A Missionary Heart”

  1. Julie Waring

    Kathy, Thank you so much for the gift of your sharing your beautiful heart – born of what God instilled in you upon creation as well as the parts born out of facing ‘this’ life with an undiluted filter of faith in our eternal God, hope in HIS Word that will not/does not fail, as well as the perseverance that has clung to that which cannot be seen for that which is/has been promised. You are a beautiful woman, and one whom I feel very blessed to have been ‘exposed’. I always smile when I see you’ve posted because I know it is going to be an opportunity that God will use to plant jewels of His wisdom and insight in my heart through you – His chosen vessel for such a time as this. I, too, have had many conversations, internal conflicts with God/self, etc over what I have ‘really’ heard – what seems to have been possibly a ‘mistake’ or at best misunderstanding – and the more and more life passes on and I gain more understanding of who He really is and the Truth of His heart I have come to rest on the promise that He works ALL things together for His good for those that love Him. That being said – I can’t say I would ever tell someone God had not called them to ministry or even a specific ‘field’ so to speak – because it seems clear on some level that occurs. However, given my personal experiences, along with many stories from others I’ve heard along the way, as well as experiences shared by the apostle Paul himself – it has been my conclusion that the gifts and callings are irrevocable while at the same time we live in a fallen world where that which is not submitted to the authority of Christ by word and deed – is under the rule of the devil – and we wrestle NOT against flesh and blood – but indeed the rulers of darkness, principalities, etc So, to me it has been helpful and rest/peace giving/producing to look at the past, perceived ‘callings’, etc in light of that. An example of what that looks like for me personally is that as a young girl I felt very strongly called to full time ministry – and I believed I was called to missions – particularly Romania, Prague, or Russia, etc because at the time they were homes of many orphanages – and it was to the abandoned and destitute that I felt most called. Over the years I have wrestled with self doubt and even condemnation over other choices that for a time I was allowed to believe that had been the direct result of why I had ‘missed’ my calling. Time, and the faithfulness of God through His Word and testimony has led me to perceive it differently. I now see that my gifts (teaching/encouraging) have never changed – and either really has my calling (missions/ministry to a specific ‘large’ people group) – What has changed in spite of my sin, and the sin of others, and only God knows what other factors played in – but I’ve come to see really the only changes that have perhaps taken place have been in my perception of timing as well as ‘location or logistics’ so to speak. Currently, my heart is still for the abandoned, the oppressed, the destitute – those w/out defense/representation (not too different than working in an orphanage when you consider the elementary factors) – I still have a heart for overseas missions like you – but God has also incredibly enlarged (after He even established) a love for my ‘own’ people – and enabled me to see those around me – from immediate family members to the broader bases of adoption, single parenting, foster care, governmental programming, etc. I have little idea of how He will use me in regard to these gifts and callings He has put within me – but I know He has called me really to one thing and that alone and that is to continue to take one step at a time – each one while clinging tightly to His hand as He faithfully guides me as my eyes stayed fixed on HIM, HIS Truth (Word), work on the cross, and power through His resurrection – and I I am faithful to that one simple (childlike) ๐Ÿ™‚ task – He is more than faithful to fulfill the rest – for that is His promise – and as our faithful God in whom their is NO deceit – He can do nothing other which is another truth that is like the comfort of soothing oil after hard days in the sun and toil. I don’t know how much of this will make sense to another person – but I felt led to share with you in hopes that you would find yourself encouraged even strengthened by the Holy Spirit to continue to BELIEVE and hold on to the promises (gifts) He has instilled within you knowing He does not lie and HIs gifts and callings are indeed IRREVOCABLE. So,, please – be encouraged and know there are MANY in the body who are exceedingly grateful to God for you, your giftings, and moslty for the beauty of your faithfulness of serving Him with all you are where you are while keeping your eyes fixed on Him even when it seems at least in the ‘natural’ so much is screaming the exact opposite. ๐Ÿ™‚ We are blessed to know you. Thank you for your ministry to me/us! Julie

  2. Joy Woodard

    I think everyone, on a certain level, feels what you have expressed because our ways are not His ways. We are loved by one who not only knows no bounds but is not limited to time. I have many times struggled with what in the world God is doing because it doesn’t make any sense, but then I time and time again go back to the Bible and the many stories of the men and women who went through so much in order to accomplish (only with God at their side and faith) the wonderful fulfillment that Christ had for them in their “calling”. Joseph is my favorite story!! I strive for his level of faith and strength through Christ’ love.

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