myMISSION

Serving in the Ordinary

buffet style snack table

It was still early in the morning when I climbed into my car and buckled my seatbelt, the backseat full of suitcases, boxes, and bags. The sun was shining brightly and I cranked up the air-conditioning to combat the end-of-summer Iowa heat. I took a deep breath as I pulled out of the driveway. This wasn’t just any road trip; this was the beginning of an entirely new season of my life.

I was leaving the comfort of home for a new adventure—serving as a semester missionary in the inner city. I was joining missionaries to serve and witness to a community impacted by poverty. My emotions ran high, made up of nervousness and excitement.

As I drove off that day, I didn’t know what to expect on the field. I had an abstract understanding of the concept of missions, but what that meant for everyday life was a mystery to me. Part of me assumed doing missions equaled constant superspiritual moments. What I found when I got there, however, was a bit different from what I expected.

Transformation in the Unexpected

Rwandan cityscape

At the beginning of January, I had the incredible opportunity to study development economics in Rwanda. For our course, we visited with government officials, nongovernmental organizations, for-profit businesses, schools, and health clinics. Throughout the trip, I got to see God work in my classmates’ lives. It was apparent that God was radically working in my friend Sydney’s life, and I am so excited now to share part of her story.

By choosing to do something new, Sydney witnessed the transformational power of God.

She said, “I know international business/missions/service is now what I am called to do. It was not until this last semester that God showed me a passion for this area that I never knew I had.

“I never would have known this passion and identified this calling inside of me if I had not tried something entirely out of my comfort zone in an area I knew nothing about.

“God had been developing this interest in economic development and service for months while studying, and going on the trip to Rwanda just confirmed it. I had never felt more alive and more confident in myself and what God could do through me.”

Moving Our Nets

man casting a net at sunset

Writing comes naturally to me. Pen on paper or fingers on the keyboard, when an idea comes to mind and I’m fleshing out an article or blog post, I’m in the zone.

What I’m learning the longer I follow God though is that He is one storyteller I will never be able to match. Try as I might to write my own story, in reality, God continually asks me to give Him the pen instead. While most days it’s hard, when I remember what He’s done, I can’t help but surrender.

I think back on how this 4-year journey that began with me coming to South Asia as a college student with a God-given desire to go overseas is ending with me leaving as an adult with a hunger to tell the gospel to anyone who has 2 ears and will listen.

God calls all of us to step out in faith and do new things so that the gospel would multiply to every nation, tribe, and language. Whether it’s across the street or across the world, the gospel is the greatest story ever told that so many have yet to hear.

New Faces, New Disciples

South Asian people

Living in a city of 12 million people means you see new faces all the time. Unlike in the United States, where I can almost guarantee I’ll run into someone I know in the grocery store, it’s a rarity to see the same person twice in South Asia.

This plethora of new faces is not just a number but people who need to hear and respond to the gospel. It’s an opportunity for discipleship to begin with those who need it most.

For example, take Priya*. She’s a nursing student whom I met a year and a half ago. At that time, my teammates and I were leading her and her first-year classmates in a Bible study on discipleship. It was our prayer that several girls from this study would want to lead the next group of “first years” in the same Bible study during the next school year.

We began praying and talked with the girls to see who would be interested in knowing more about being a leader. To our surprise, Priya was one of the girls who was interested. She was one of the more soft-spoken girls participating in the Bible study and not one we thought of as a leader.

The Rohingya: See Them, Hear Them

Rohingya mothers with their babies

I first heard the name of their people group when we were preparing to serve with them in Malaysia.

Rohingya—known as one of the most persecuted people group in the world.

Originally from Bangladesh, this Muslim people group migrated to Myanmar to escape persecution and found itself in the backlash of a Buddhist militia government. It’s estimated there are between 1 and 2 million Rohingya worldwide, yet this people group has no homeland of its own.

The Rohingya are the people no one wants. A people who are not seen or heard. Many have fled persecution in one area only to experience it in another. Most have no paperwork declaring their citizenship to any country. They are aliens, foreigners, and illegals in whatever country they enter.

They have had their property destroyed, their homes ransacked, their people tortured, and their self-esteem ruined. They usually cannot find work other than in secret because if a country’s government finds out they are there, it will usually deport or imprison them.

Trust Him as You Reach out to Someone New

young woman reaching out

With summer here in full force, maybe it is a good time to ask, “How are you doing?”

If you are like me, then you are feeling a bit behind on keeping up with the details. Or maybe you have everything planned out and are able to enjoy time with people. Either way, it is comforting to know God is in control and He has a plan.

The summer may not go exactly how we have planned, but God is bigger than our plans. And He is always doing something new, something more than we have imagined, something with potentially eternal results both in our lives and the lives of those around us. How comforting. How exciting.

Try Something New: Explore Cultures

two women sitting at table

Cultures are unique aspects of groups who share specific backgrounds or geographical locations. While some cultures vary more than others, every culture has unique customs and beliefs.

Meeting and befriending people from different cultures can be valuable and rewarding. By taking the time to get to know someone completely different from you, you may see many opportunities for gospel conversations arise naturally.

When it comes to learning about new cultures,

My (Not-So-Little) Sphere of Influence

woman on rock platform viewing city

I shifted my weight in my chair during lunch as the speaker encouraged us to consider our roles and write down our circles of influence on a sheet of paper. Well this won’t take long, I thought to myself.

My paper ended up with wife, family member, friend, and employee scribbled on it shyly and slowly so those around me wouldn’t be able to tell how short my list was.

As a young professional, I consider my roles and my routine pretty simple. I go to work, get home around dinnertime, and spend time with my husband. On the weekends, we go to church and sometimes hang out with family or friends. My circle of influence seemed pretty small.

Surely there was more going on outside my comfortable bubble.

Around that time, the Holy Spirit began to convict me about my “boring” routine and how I use my time. Conviction came in the form of Philippians 2:3–4 (ESV):

Go, Make Disciples

mother taking children to playgound

“The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed.” —Hudson Taylor, missionary to China

We like routine. Routines are good for us, for our children, and for our overall predictability of life. Typically, we shop in the same places, eat in the same restaurants, and go to church with people who are familiar to us. We drive the same routes, run the same paths, and keep a pretty consistent schedule of events from year to year.

As a pastor’s wife, it’s easy for me to find myself surrounded by believers (or those who have heard the gospel) all the time. It takes effort for me to look beyond the people of our church and in my immediate circles to see the unreached surrounding us next door.

The Book of Matthew tells of how Jesus reached out to those who were diseased and afflicted—those in need of healing and a Savior. These people were probably not a part of His normal routine. They were outside of His usual crowd of disciples.

Qualified to Do Missions

people walking across a crosswalk

When I was 16, I traveled with my church’s youth choir to Minneapolis to partner with a church in the inner city. Our purpose for being there was to help the church in its efforts to reach its community. While we were there, our group had the opportunity to participate in an outdoor cookout and concert for the neighborhood. The turnout was amazing; we saw people encouraged and loved and supported. We saw people come to Christ. The Holy Spirit was working in big ways.

While many parts of that evening were impactful, something that stood out to me was watching how God moved through my peers. I remember watching my church family serving this neighborhood and seeing how God was using each member to serve people in unique ways. I was blown away watching them be vessels of God’s love. And it was by watching them that I understood that missions is the call for every Christian.

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