04 March, 2012

1. What is your understanding of a missionary call?

Some time ago I caught up with a friend from primary school (US=elementary school) on Facebook, I haven't seen her since we were 12! She messaged me recently to say that she's studying at Bible college now and wondered if I'd help her with an assignment by answering some questions. I agreed (I'd much rather do this for a friend than a stranger), but now I'm faced with some pretty daunting questions and struggling a bit to find time to answer them. 

However, in a flash of brilliance, I wondered whether I shouldn't answer them here on my blog, as I'm here writing everyday anyway! So, one by one, I'll answer her nine questions. Who knows, you might even be interested in my answers!

Here are her questions (I'm updating this as the weeks go on with links to my answers to the questions):

  1. 1. What is your understanding of a missionary call? (this post) 
    2. How did you become convinced that God wanted you to become a missionary? 
    3. The steps that you took in preparation.                                       
    4. The process God took you on during your first term in Japan to lead you to your current ministry.*
    5. The nature and purpose of your ministry. 
    6. Your experience of culture shock. 
    7. Any stress factors that appeared repeatedly in your ministry. 
    8. How you maintain spiritual zeal. 
    9. What are the positive and negative aspects of your relationships with other missionaries? 
    10. What are the positive and negative aspects of your relationships with national Christians?
* This question wasn't part of the original set of nine, but as people seemed to be enjoying my story, the jump between questions 3 and 5 (as I've renumbered them) just seemed too much, so I inserted my own "question" here.

Wow, a tough one to start.

1. What is your understanding of a missionary call?

Well, for starters I'm no theologian. I haven't even completed Bible college, but seeing as you've asked, here are my thoughts:

God deals with each of us differently. Just like (except more perfectly) we never interact with one person exactly the same as any other. So some people experience God's call as a sudden voice or thunder bolt. We have a Japanese friend who kept asking us for our "call verse". Only later did we realise she was looking for her own "bolt of lightning". Neither my husband nor I were called in that fashion. It was more like gentle voice guiding us (but that is starting in on your next question).

God also leads via wise counsel of friends. Via circumstance. Via open doors and shut doors. He isn't limited in how he does this.

One thing that I keep seeing is people who cannot get mission, or some other thing that God is calling them towards, out of their heads. It just keeps coming up. It was like that for me, a long meandering journey.

We've also discovered that God's calls is a continuous action. Just because we're here in Japan, where we believe (and others confirm) God has called us to, doesn't mean that he's stopped calling us. We continue to pray that if his call to Japan and the ministries we're doing here change, that he'll make our hearts soft and ready to change.

Aside from the peace in our hearts, the other thing that helps confirm his current call on our life is his financial provision. For more than eleven years now we haven't asked anyone except God for money and he's covered all our needs. To us, and our mission organisation, that is part of the confirmation that we're doing what God has called us to do.
Now that is more than a couple of paragraphs that she's asked me to do. Thoughts, anyone?


KarenKTeachCamb said...

Spot on Wendy. I agree that it is different for all of us. Certainly God has place missions in my heart since I was a little girl, but for various reasons I never thought I'd be able to serve Him overseas. Little did I know when He prompted me to go on a short term mission trip 10 years ago that it would lead to long term service, albeit not with a mission organisation, but definitely within His will.

His protection, His provision, and above all His peace all serve to confirm that this is where I'm meant to be at this season in my life. My prayer is that I will be open to His leading as the desire of my heart is to see those around me know that He is the reason for my peace and security.

Jess@Diary of a SAHM said...

Thanks for this. My husband and I have been struggling for years to know exactly what w are called to do, or where we are called to be.
He seems to always be in jobs with no clear future, and we are always 'stuck.' we've been waiting for an open door or a thunderbolt, but maybe we need to pay more attention to the gentle nudgings.

Liju said...

Beautiful, Wendy! Just what I have experienced in life. I haven't got any 'thunderbolt' calls yet, however the continuous gentle guiding, peace, confirmation from people of God and the thought just not leaving your head have been very prominent in my life. I am not a missionary living in a foreign land, but I am seeking to God's will in every aspect of my life.
I can't wait to read more of your answers. Thanks for posting.

Wendy said...

Jess, I think that is a common misconception. Thos gentle nudgings aren't always easy to notice, but I think God loves it when we draw close to him and start to hear his quiet whispers to our hearts.

Liju and Karen, thanks for your encouragement. I wondered how these questions would go, I didn't dream my answers would touch people like this seems to have.