A Missionary Heart
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.