Wooed by God to the Mission Field
The first inkling of change
I remember the television images of 9/11, the household events of that day, and the eventual call by then President Bush to service (not just those in the military, but everyday Americans).
That day was pivotal as I sat on a comfortable couch, recalling the year my husband, Brian, and I spent in Pakistan long ago. I realized that, since returning to the U.S. in 1991, we had accumulated material possessions, put down roots in the beautiful Southeast, and were living a comfortable North American lifestyle.
I prayed that day that God would use me -- a homeschooling mom and nurse -- in some way to redeem human suffering in the world.
I explained to my three young children, as best I could, the events of 9/11, and we had a fundraiser in our driveway for the Red Cross. We thought we had helped, at least a little.
Steps toward life change
Brian and I became foster parents in 1996, after realizing our children needed a ministry they could take part in. How better to introduce them to service and the needy of the world by loving and caring for infants as they awaited their permanent placements in other families. Our family served together and learned to love unconditionally and deeply. We sometimes wept as the babies we loved went to less than optimal situations. Then, we decided to adopt, growing our family in a marvelous way as we taught our children that God made us all in His image.
But we still lived the American dream. We moved to a bigger house, and our roots grew even deeper.
God knew what He was doing, though. He was using our everyday lives to prepare our family for what lay ahead.
I went back to graduate school after being led to a website for Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing more than once while answering emails and shopping by internet, way before it was popular! This was during a particularly low point in my life, and when I asked my husband what he thought, he encouraged me to apply and see what transpired. Of course, God’s hand was in it all and less than six weeks later, I was headed for the on-campus, out of state orientation to the community-based,distance learning program. The family cheered me on and stepped up to many of the demands of running the household. We continued to homeschool our children while I was completing coursework and eventually taking 24 hour call on maternity wards in metropolitan Charlotte and coordinating clinic time in metropolitan Charlotte, Greensboro and with a Native American population in Oklahoma.
It was part of God’s plan. I was blessed to welcome 43 new babies into the world, to empower women in one of the most intimate experiences in their life, and to personalize each one with a pink or blue birthday cake. I saw that my world was vastly different than much of society, and that just listening to their struggles provided peace and not being able to fully communicate with all of my clients in the same way was frustrating, though as many were either Hispanic families and spoke Spanish, or Native American with dialects foreign to my ears. I knew simple words of greeting and body parts, a pig Latin sort of Spanish gained on the job in an emergency room in Houston, Texas. Those seven years of French were frustratingly useless in Native American and Hispanic contexts. It left me a little disappointed. Was it possible to cross those language and cultural barriers?
We’d soon find out.
A growing pull towards missions
Individually, members of our immediate family served on short-term teams to post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans with EFCA TouchGlobal, and we took a vision trip to Latin America with EFCA ReachGlobal. God was wooing us ever so slowly back into the world of missions.
Only God, the Master Creator, could weave such a unique tapestry through our everyday lives, careers and family life to prepare us to willingly step out in faith to serve cross-culturally -- first in the U.S. with peoples of all nations passing through our workplaces, foster babies of all ethnicities, and hosting a foreign exchange student from France, in New Orleans post-Katrina relief, working as a midwife with Native Americans in Oklahoma, and finally serving overseas in Latin America.
Who does God use?
When I left North Carolina four years ago (wondering how God could call a family of six from comfortable suburbia to be missionaries in San José, Costa Rica), I was just an average North American woman. I was not a Bible scholar nor a church planter, but a chocolate-craving, Target-loving mother and wife.
And yet, I desired more than anything to alleviate human suffering in the world.
Some days that means serving a friend by providing refuge from culture shock. Other days, that means providing health care to indigent women.
You may be living an ordinary life… but God can use you to accomplish something extraordinary. A seminary degree and proficiency in a foreign language are not required. A willing heart, a teachable spirit and the placing of one foot in front of the other as He leads will do.