Updated: Nov 19, 2020
My nine year old self sat on the hard, wooden church pews, enthralled in their story of being rescued in Africa during a civil war. Suspense, adventure and purpose, serving the Lord overseas was just the ticket for this quest-hungry girl.
We went home after that service, and standing in the kitchen, I told my mom I wanted to be a missionary in Africa someday. I don’t remember her reaction, but my younger sister was overcome with tears, wanting me to promise I would never leave.
Fast forward 15 years, I’m married, working as nurse at the hospital, living on a country acreage we had purchased. There’s an unsettling in my soul that begins to surface amidst a season where God was leading me deeper. I was spending stretches of my morning studying and worshiping, serving in a variety of areas in our local church; He was drawing me close.
This intimacy was causing a restlessness, a hunger for more of Him, a longing to be apart of His work in the world. Yes, in the world.
Although I had never moved far from my rural prairie home, that stirring as a nine year old grew stronger now as a grown woman. I prayed, asking the Lord what it all meant, what He wanted. The question, ‘would I be willing to give up everything to go overseas?’ emerged over and over. But it wasn’t a decision I could make on my own.
I shared this growing desire to be a part of God’s kingdom work in the nations with my husband, with no small amount of trepidation.
“Let’s pray about it” he said.
The only thing I knew with certainty was that God would have to work in both our hearts, put us both on the same page, to share a heart and a vision for what the future could hold.
The longing didn’t go away, but I chose to trust God with the next steps, carrying on with the ebb and flow of ‘normal’ life through the spring and summer.
The fall season came upon us, my husband was farming, working long hours on the tractor, and God was prompting his heart. One day he came home and told me that he too felt convicted, and God was giving him a deep desire to “go,” that it was time for us to pursue what a future in missions could look like.
I was taken aback. I almost couldn’t blink. Then it dawned on me, that God was answering our prayers. I cried because of His goodness.
The questions started rising up, how do you know where to go, or which organization to apply with. We googled some info, sought the prayers of our pastors and close friends, hoping for a ‘lightbulb’ moment. A missions conference was held every year in the city, so we decided it would be a good place to meet with organizations and find our way into the world of missions. We were pretty clueless, but we strongly felt that working on a team among the unreached was our purpose.
Winter weather arrived, we attended the missions conference with another couple from our church, who God placed as companions for us along the journey, for they too had felt God’s call to missions and were seeking His will for their future. It was a busy weekend, listening to speakers, meeting missions mobilizers, and exchanging notes with our friends. The feedback we received was that we should get a bible degree first, and then apply; study first, then go. It was disheartening. The longing was pressing us and we felt like the doors were closing.
The sun set, the winter chill set in, and we were getting ready to leave the conference with the wind in our sails puffed out. We were walking by the displays nearest to the door, where Africa Inland Mission was one of the last tables.
“We haven’t visited there yet, do you think we should?” I whispered. He nodded.
We introduced ourselves to Paul, we shared our heart to serve the Lord overseas, to be part of a team, to work among the unreached. We confessed that we weren’t bible students, and would need training.
We held our breath, waiting for his response.
Paul didn't skip a beat, he went on to tell us about the Training in Ministry Outreach program, where a team is set up among an unreached people, and as you learn language and culture, you are training together on different modules, writing papers and interacting with your learning, equipping you for cross-cultural missions.
(I think we took a breath here.)
It was a short conversation, it was all we needed to know. We took home the application forms and made a date for Paul to come and visit our home the next day.
This. This was exactly what we were waiting for, and we knew it, this was the answer to our prayer, when we thought the door was closing.
"I lift my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth" Psalm 121:1-2
I remember these moments so clearly, as if it were yesterday. The confidence we held, as God graciously gave us the opportunity for a program that we both desired and needed. He met our needs, He fulfilled this longing - which had been His own prompting to begin with. What an awesome God we serve.
When has God answered your prayers for direction?
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