A song that often runs through my mind is by Seventh Time Down and some of the lyrics are “God is on the Move, on the move, Hallelujah!” And it’s true, God, is on the move. What I like about what is implied here is that it’s continual and happening now with future effect. It was a thought along these lines that inspired me to ask our missionaries to talk to us about how God used past missions experiences to influence them eventually becoming a missionary; or more simply put, how God moved in their lives to guide them to become missionaries.
Here are the answers some of our missionaries gave:
“I am a missionary today because of a short term mission trip. While working overseas on a (long) short-term mission trip, I fell in love with global ministry. I saw, first hand, that mission work is not all glamorous and adventure, but also hard work. I saw the fatigue culture can put on life and the joy of new believers wanting to learn more and more of their Savior!
I learned so much during that time and it opened my eyes to a whole new way of working and serving God. It also taught me the importance of being prepared for mission work both physically and spiritually. Being well equipped to handle cultural differences as well as to teach theology were tools I knew I needed before heading back to the field full time.”
“1. Short-term missionary (August 1970-July 1971) – Gave me a heart for missions, love for Bolivia, friendships and contacts with missionaries. This carried into our marriage and through y years in the pastorate.
- GMI Board member – During my time as pastor of Bethesda Church, I was invited to serve on the GMI Board and eventually chair of the board’s Latin America Committee. It led to Cathy and me visiting Bolivia with Sam Vinton (January 1992) when we saw the need for someone with pastoral experience to work with existing pastors and teach our theology.
- GMI missionaries (January 1993-August 2004) – Ministry with pastors and leaders, building relationships, teaching classes through a theological training center (Centro Teológico Bethesda).
All of this was the groundwork which enabled us to return and enter quickly in the ministry today. The need at this time was to reestablish a training center to prepare a future generation of pastors, Christian leaders and, Lord willing, missionaries. We came with relationships and a level of respect already established, a knowledge of the language and the culture, former students who are now in leadership.
The government laws have changed, making this a much more complicating and costly process than we had anticipated. But God has prepared us for this as well, again because of our past experience in the country and my experience with the GGF. We clearly see the hand of God using each passage of our lives and ministry – even the trials we endure – as building blocks for what lies ahead.
This is brief. Each steps has many details, but it all has impacted the ministry we have been called to do at this time. To God be the glory!
In His grace, Frosty”
“I would have to say that the generous spirit of so many Puerto Ricans I know, especially in our church circle, has ministered to me in ways I draw on, particularly when I’m feeling low, as I have many times during these long months since Hurricane María. And the glory and the praise for that, too, is definitely a gift from our mutual Lord, and is reinforced virtually every Sunday. I have unofficial mentors here, even without them knowing it!”
– Greater certainty about how to prioritize effort
– Not as easily distracted or side-tracked by disagreement, passive-aggressive behavior, or emotional outbursts by over-worry whether a cultural norm had been violated and recognizing immaturity for what it is, even across cultural lines.
– Better able to recognize the reality of spiritual warfare across the spectrum from whispers in the ear to the bizarre and openly frightful
– A greater confidence in God’s protective hand anytime, anywhere, any level of threat
– Joy and anticipation at seeing the big picture of brothers & sisters from less-developed world catching up to and in some cases, outpacing first world mission efforts
- When arriving in Bolivia I remember feeling like I was home. It’s kind of strange to think about, because I grew up on the mission field in Japan. It was totally different from Bolivia and yet I felt like I had come home. Because of my upbringing on the mission field, being a missionary is a very natural life style for me.
- Growing up in Japan helped me to realize that people in different cultures do things differently. It doesn’t mean they or we are right or wrong. It just means we do things differently and that’s okay. On the mission field we need to be sensitive to the culture that we are ministering in. We often think we have better ideas and methods but we need to listen, watch, and get a clear understanding of their culture and then we may not be so quick to think that we have all the answers.
“In a sense, my past ‘missions experiences’ had little influence on my current missionary role. With the exception of course being when Naomi and I took an intentional vision trip to discover where God was calling us to carry out our call to missions work. Other ‘missions experiences’ like mission trips, surprisingly, didn’t really form my understanding of missions or directly move me closer to pursuing a calling in missions, which is the place I am currently in. More so, I was impacted by being educated and informed of what missions is from a very biblical perspective and also hearing about what God is doing around the world amongst the people who need the gospel brought to them the most.”
“When I was younger, meeting missionaries at church made me want to visit the mission field and when I decided I wanted to be a missionary at the age of 8 years old that was a huge influencer!”