I have always had this affinity for Indiana Jones. I guess it was really more like puppy love towards him. Maybe it was because his name is the same as my home state or because Harrison Ford will forever be beautiful on screen, but whatever it was, I loved watching those movies as a kid. His life seemed so cool and exciting. I mean, he fought Nazis in the desert and escaped getting his heart ripped out by some guy’s hand. He road in a mine cart and carried a whip around. His life seemed thrilling while mine seemed dull and predictable growing up in small town Indiana. Because of this, I always imagined myself living in the jungle and machete-ing down vines and branches as I trekked across the globe on my big adventures. This was a thrilling thought pattern for a twelve-year-old.
That same year, at the age of twelve, I attended my very first summer camp with our church denomination. I am one who easily becomes homesick (why I thought I could travel like Indiana Jones does, I don’t know), but I was happy that I made it through that week without crying and wishing to go home. That week was terrible and amazing all at once, which I assume is how camp is for most pre-teens. Every night at camp we had a chapel service, and the last night, the speaker told us that God would be calling people to be pastors and missionaries. He gave what I assume was a moving sermon although I don’t remember it. But, I do remember my conversation with God at the end. I told God that I wasn’t sure if He had called me to missions, but that I wanted Him to call me to missions. I went down to the front to pray, and I just felt that God told me that if I wanted to be called to missions, then I was called to missions. I was thrilled! Finally, my adventure would begin!!!
Over the next years of teenage rebellion and leaving the church, I thought that this dream of missions would just die off since I no longer wanted anything to do with church or God for that matter. I wanted to live my own life and decide my own future, one far removed from this calling.
Yet God, in His mercy, brought me back to Him and eventually I accepted once again that I was called to
I then attended the greatest college of all time: Central Bible College, where I studied Global Missions. Here, my love of missions and culture and people grew stronger. I understood weird terms such as xenophobia and ethnocentrism. I really grew to love and appreciate those from cultures outside my own. I visited new places and found a love in the mix of New York City where every culture in the world dwells. It was a great time of fleshing out dreams and planning my life around missions. It was scary and exciting and almost like that perfect Indiana Jones adventure I had always dreamed of and imagined.
Yet, not everything seems to pan out the way that we hope, and for me this meant putting my dreams of missions on the back burner for a while. While I thought that I would be living in New York, ministering to a whole slew of people groups, God knew that it was time for me to take a different direction and pursue my Masters degree. That was not what I wanted to hear; I didn’t want a Masters, I wanted to be a missionary. I loved people and cultures and I was willing. What else could I do to be more ready? Jonah wasn’t willing to go and God sent him, but I was willing! It didn’t seem fair! But God knew the plans for my life better than I did so I packed up my life and moved back to Missouri again to pursue my Masters degree.
While living in Missouri, God continues to grow me in my personal life and in my passion for people and cultures. He continues to open doors I would never have considered before because my heart and plans were so set on New York. I have met new friends from around the world who now minister in their home nations and I get to be a part of their lives. I have grown to love new people groups who I would not have sought out before. God continues to open my eyes and fill my soul with the people He loves. My soul is filled with missions, but now I understand missions on a new and deeper level. I see how scary missions is but also how much joy can be found in spreading the gospel to those who have never heard the name Jesus before. I can’t thank God enough for this time to grow and learn, to share and give, and to just become more aware of what He has really called me to. He didn’t call me for an adventure, He called me to go where the gospel has not yet reached and to speak to those who are daily overlooked.
The Spirit also binds my soul with the desire to go where He leads me. I also do not know what awaits me when I arrive, but I know that my soul longs to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and so I will willingly give the life I have to do that. It’s a scary notion, giving everything up for this, but my soul knows no other course.
I pray that if the Spirit is speaking to you about missions, about going and sharing with people outside your own culture, that your soul will be open to receiving this. I pray for peace for you and continued guidance as the Spirit directs you. I pray that God continues to open all of our eyes and souls to see and love the people around us and continue to minister to those overlooked by the world. God’s people are missionary people, whether that be overseas or in our own backyard. May God help you see your own missionary work.