Today I’m going to do something that I almost never do. I’m going to shamelessly promote a friend’s blog. Adam and Sarah Quinn are friends of ours who are raising their funds to come as missionaries to Costa Rica. Hopefully they will be arriving next spring. They have been coming down here on missions trips for ages, and the bug finally bit them, so to speak. Anyhow, for the past 15 days or so they’ve been posting an interesting fact about Costa Rica on their blog once a day. I thought those of you who are interested in travel and cross cultural adventures would be amused at some of the details that have captured their attention. So scoot on over to Adam and Sarah Quinn’s blog and read their Crazy Costa Rica Facts… and feel free to send them a donation if you feel so inspired. Tell them I sent you . 🙂 Chao!
This week I’m going to walk you through a bit of our personal story about how my family and I ended up on the mission field. I hope you enjoy our story and find encouragement and inspiration for your own journey.
I grew up in a Christian home. As a matter of fact, when I was in 4th grade, my Dad was hired as the Youth Pastor at our church. As a preacher’s kid, I was in the church every time the doors were opened. But my favorite times, by far, were Sunday nights when missionaries would come with their tables spread with snake skins and bobbles from far away lands. I love their costumes and slide shows. I loved their stories and their altar calls. I can’t tell you the number of times I have responded to the plea of “who will go?” My little heart was like a hand waving desperately from the back of the room, “ooh-ooh pick me! pick me!!” I couldn’t wait to grow up so I could be called by God to go somewhere- anywhere.
I had Sunday School teachers and girls’ club leaders who read aloud exciting missionary stories of miracles and dangerous escapes and prayers answered and visions and angels and spiritual show-downs in witch doctor infested jungles. Oh the adventures! The thrilling adventures kept me coming back for more. I searched the library for missionary biographies. I collected the little picture prayer cards that the missionaries left in the back of the church lobby. I studied maps and located the countries that I was interested in. (I was the weird girl who lined her bedroom walls with maps instead of boy band posters.) I couldn’t get enough of the world!
Time progressed and in Junior High we started studying languages. I chose French. Four years later I was a true Francophile. I was convinced that someday I would live in Paris. I was sure of it. My teacher said I had a pretty accent.
The years still continued to slide along evenly, yet too slowly for my tastes. When the Berlin Wall fell, I remember standing in front of a newspaper stand near our home in a suburb of Chicago and looking with disbelief at the first photos of people embracing across the span of that horrid barrier. I remember thinking, “I should be there! I was born too late. I should be there by now.” My Europe was changing without me. And I didn’t even have a drivers’ license yet, let alone a passport.
College came. I fell in love with a Youth Ministries Major. I schemed and plotted and maneuvered until he caught me. 🙂 The only problem was, Josh was kind of a home-body and I had the itch to travel. Before we got married I looked at him and made him promise something. I said, “Promise me someday we’ll do missions.” Of course he confessed later that he just wanted to get married, so he said Yes. But God heard.
For 8 years we worked as youth pastors at the same church where my Dad had been youth pastor. Life was coming full circle for me, but I longed for what was outside of my circle. Every other year we took our youth group kids on a missions trip overseas. This trip was the highlight of my year, and I would beg, borrow and steal to make it happen. Once it meant I weaned my nursing baby earlier than I wanted to just so I could go on a missions trip. I was serious about this! In 8 years, we visited Panama, England, Thailand, and Mexico in addition to a personal trip to the Czech Republic just because I’d always wanted to go to Prague. For me, those trips were scratching the missions itch. For Josh, each one was a stretching exercise. In each country he would ask himself, “Could I live here?” and each time, the answer was No.
To be continued tomorrow…
“A missionary plods through the first year or two, thinking that things will be different when he speaks the language. He is baffled to find, frequently, that they are not. He is stripped of all that may be called “romance.” Life has fallen more or less into a pattern. Day follows day in unbroken succession. There are no crisis, no mass conversions, sometimes not even one or two to whom he can point and say: ‘There is a transformed life. If I had not come, he would never have known Christ.”
These are the words of Roger Youderian as he struggled with his role as a missionary just a few short weeks before he committed to Operation Auca and lost his life at the end of a spear with Jim Elliot, Nate Saint and the other men.
We are tools. Missionaries are just tools in the hands of the Master. A lot of what we give our daily lives to is nothing more than positioning. We are just waiting in a position to be used. It’s our job just to be available for the Master whenever and wherever he needs us. He should be able to set his hand right down and find us ready and waiting to be used. And that readiness is unromantic, un-dramatic, daily and boring.
But when the Master reaches for his tool and finds it exactly where he placed it, ready to be used… BAM!!… Look at the dramatic impact the tool can make in one moment. One hit of the hammer, one strike of the match. One moment of usefulness leads to generations of brilliance! This man and his companion missionaries went to their deaths in a blaze of usefulness! They were matches lying in the box, waiting for the one strike that would set them aflame. Who had ever heard of them before they died? No one, but hundreds, maybe thousands of young people heard of their deaths and felt called by God to go into full time service. Workers sent out, tools now positioned and available to be used whenever the Master has need.
If you have children you very likely know the quote from the movie Toy Story were Woody tells the other toys, “Com’on Guys, it doesn’t matter how much we’re played with. All the matters is that we’re there for Andy when he needs us. That’s what we’re here for.” That’s what our true mission is: to be available for God when he needs us. Which might mean a lot of waiting in the bottom of the toy box or the matchbox or the toolbox. Waiting for when the Master has need of us.