I’ve felt for a long time that I was called to missions.
I know we are all called as Christians to spread the gospel, but I felt a calling to foreign missions. It was a quiet passion long before I met my husband – who thankfully shared the same passion. In the time since we’ve been married, every time the subject has come up at church and the pastor has said something along the lines of “Stand up if you feel called to missions,” we’ve never even had to discuss it. We both have stood up. It’s something that we both knew was in the future and we were just waiting for the directions.
I knew we had a purpose. I knew one day God would “send us” somewhere special. Somewhere foreign – possibly even remote.
I just didn’t know it would be here.
Every time I hear stories from missionaries or see images, that desire arises, but then I remember - we can’t go. Not right now. Not with our little girl.
Somewhere in that longing though, God spoke. I don’t know when it was. I don’t remember. I just know at some point I began to hear, “You’re already there. You’re in your mission field.”
I felt this, but I didn’t know how to explain it…or even fully what it meant.
A dear person gave me a fabulous book this past Christmas called Kisses from Katie. I just finally began reading it.
You want to read this book!
The Lord made my “mission field” clearer to me in the pages of this book, and I immediately felt inspiration to share.
While I was reading about Katie’s conflicting experiences as she adjusted to her new life in Uganda, God reminded me of this story I had shared, in which becoming a special needs parent is likened to landing in Holland when you thought you were on a plane to Italy. As I read her story, it was mine. Different place. Different circumstances — but my story.
Allow me to share, as I replace “Uganda” with “special needs parenting”:
If I had to summarize in one word my first weeks and months [as a special needs parent], it would be contradiction. The physical environment of [special needs parenting] is one huge paradox: amazing, breathtaking beauty juxtaposed against immense [hardship] and desolation. My life–especially my emotions–hung in the balance between absolutely loving my new life… and battling severe loneliness. Not a single person around me understood anything about my life, my culture, or my background. Their frame of reference was so different from mine that even the most detailed explanation hardly helped them understand or relate. Most of the people around me didn’t speak my language, nor did I speak theirs. This communication vacuum left me feeling isolated and forced to work much harder to build meaningful relationships
…During my early days here, I was learning so much…My horizons were being expanded in the most amazing ways; my perspectives were changing every day; and my faith was being challenged and stretched. All of this was so exciting to me. I didn’t want to admit that, in the midst of such a wonderful and invigorating experience, I sometimes felt tangible pangs of loneliness when I thought about how many miles away I was from the people I loved.
…Even though I cried often…I didn’t want anyone to know that I sometimes longed for my familiar home while I reveled in the newness of a country so unlike anywhere I’d ever been. I didn’t want to tell friends and family that I could dance and sing and play with children all day long yet collapse in tears at night in the privacy of my…room. I could praise God with all my joyful heart and then later pour out my heart to Him with frustration and weeping when no one could hear.
The contradiction comes when I realize that all these experiences and emotions are real. The happiness that gave me chill bumps was as deep as my loneliness. My sense of certainty about being exactly where God wanted me was solid, but just as firm was the fact that I wondered at times what on earth I was doing here. The frustration that threatened to overtake me on some occasions was just as deep and true as the unbounded joy I felt at other times. I loved my new life; I truly loved it. But compared to the life I had been living, it was hard.
There were many moments when the only way I could keep going was to try my best not to look back but to look only forward, relying on God’s perfect plan. Like so many other things, this wasn’t easy, but it was the key to conquering the mountains of difficulty that arose on the landscape of my life.
Despite the obstacles, I felt a surprising level of comfort living [as a special needs parent] most of the time. I felt I was born to be there, and in many ways, living there seemed more natural than living in my native country. I had the unexplainable feeling, a settled knowing, that I was where I was made to be. I knew deep in my soul that I was home. (Davis, 2011)
I have questioned God – “What about this desire? This calling? I thought you wanted us involved in missions.”
I kept hearing, you are.
“Yes, God – but foreign missions.”
I’ve waited for the answer. Thinking the silence meant to wait.
Today he answered. This is foreign.
This “land” is foreign. It is foreign to me, but this is different than an other “foreign” place. There are no “native” speakers or indigenous inhabitants. Practically every person that has ever “moved” here has not done so by choice. No, each one is foreign – often landing here quite suddenly and with little warning – and I get to be a missionary in this foreign land. This land where, though no one wants to live here, once you settle in, you find there is beauty in it.
Yes, I am a foreign missionary.
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” ~ Mark 16:15
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” ~ Romans 10:13-15
From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. ~ Luke 12:48
Davis, K. (2011). Kisses from Katie. (pp. 19-20). New York: Howard Books.