“Trust and wait.”
We serve a God who knows each heart. As you speak with other missionaries, do not be surprised that his guidance is different for each life. My husband and I were both children when we caught a vision for China. God gave us a heart for China and we knew that someday we would be there. We met about fifteen years later, began a friendship, and later married. But it took another ten years before we arrived in China. Why did it take us so long? I have no idea, but when we went, it was so right!
Pray each day about your burden for missions. God will speak to you through his Word, through the Holy Spirit in your times of prayer, and through other Christians in your life.
Answer from Karin, who served as an English teacher in China for five years.
“Wait on God to confirm his direction in multiple ways.”
We believe that big moves require big confirmations, and God is faithful to provide that. We must have a heart assurance of God’s direction to endure the inherent difficulties and sacrifices that come with missions.
This process will be more mystical in nature for some than for others. Though a mystical sense of God’s leading in our hearts is desirable, doing something as drastic as becoming a long-term missionary on only a whim or a feeling often produces disastrous results over time.
Take incremental steps in your inquiries to your church, friends, and mission agencies, trusting God to open or shut doors as he sees fit. Look for specific and obvious answers to prayer concerning your move. Often, circumstances will line up in an unusual and revealing manner, indicating God’s favor toward a specific move.
In our case we wrote down all the small, circumstantial “miracles” that God did to get us to Spain; for example, the way our house sold. By the time we were in Spain there were twenty such confirmations which we kept on file just in case we ever began to doubt God’s hand in this assignment. This assurance was a source of strength, comfort, and peace. God is good to us, and being a missionary is a great honor well worth any sacrifice for him and worth the time it takes to hear his voice.
Answer from David Nelson, who served for thirteen years in Spain planting churches with Elim Fellowship.
“Wait for God’s peace to fill your heart.”
I began to look into long-term options for ministry in Russia. Although organizations were eager to have me join, there was a restraint in my heart, and I just knew that this wasn’t what God wanted. I became so confused about God’s will and where he was leading me that I was fed up. Maybe it is at times like this that many people give up on the whole idea of missions. I certainly was very close to that point! I didn’t have a clue what God wanted from me.
I decided to spend some specific time praying and fasting to discern God’s will. I asked God to speak to me specifically, and at the end of that week, he did. I was just reading through the Bible as I did every evening. As I turned to the next chapter in Judges, the peace of God just filled my heart when I read chapter 18. The situation with the Danite tribe was the same as my situation, and I nearly laughed at how specific God was! I knew that God wanted me to go back to Russia with the same agency. It was clear, and after that I never questioned God’s call. I just took him at His word and went for it.
I have been in Siberia, Russia, for a couple of years and am really enjoying life here. These past years have been some of the hardest of my life, but I can honestly say that I ‘ve never experienced God like I have during this time. I am looking forward to what he has in store for me this next year!
Answer from Adele from North Ireland.
Note: Answer excerpted from the book Scaling the Wall: Overcoming Obstacles to Missions Involvement by Kathy Hicks of Operation Mobilization.
“Embrace what you’re doing now as God’s preparation.”
I have found that with a willingness to serve, God often finds wonderful ways to prepare us for the calling that lies ahead. Often, our idea of our calling undergoes modification. Many times the preparation that we went through just out of willingness turns out to be the exact preparation we need.
Answer from John, director of In His Image Physicians in Missions.