How I Became a Missionary – Part 1

Many times I have been asked the question, “How do you know God’s will?”  This is so broad of a question it is hard to answer.  And in fact, what people are often asking is, “What would God want me to do with my life?”  The most important decision a person needs to make is to accept Jesus as their personal Saviour and Lord.  The next two most important questions for most people then revolve around, “Who should I marry?” and “What career will I pursue in my life?”

The beginning of my journey to become a Christian was shared in an earlier blog, “For My Tears, Jesus Died.” The interesting and hilarious details of how I chose Jill to be my wife will be in future blog entries.  But the third question regarding the choosing of a career, and in my case a missionary career, I think is a fascinating story and will probably take many blog entries to give you the full story.

On this post, I want to share about how God used people and spoke through people to help guide me on this quest of what I should do with my life.  I’m sure I could name many people who influenced my life, such as my parents, key friends, teachers, pastors, etc.  But as I look back at my life, I can see very clearly how four individuals very specifically impacted me, although they themselves did not know at that time the impact of what they said.

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The first person to impact my life, was a lady from Wycliffe Bible Translators.  I did not know her personally, but she was a member of my church and had been overseas working for Wycliffe.  She was giving a slide presentation on her work, and on the work of Bible translation in general.  I was 14 at the time.  I had been a Christian for only two years.  But when as I watched her presentation, a chord within me resonated, and the germ of an idea, or should I say. the germ of a vision was planted.

The second person, actually couple, were also Bible translators, living in the highlands of Peru and working to get the Scriptures into a Quechua language.  I was 16 at this time, and was also in the Canadian Navy.  (But that story will have to wait for another time.)  I got special permission from our ship’s captain to have a 3 day leave so that I could visit these people who were also supported by my church back in Canada.  During those three days, I became absolutely fascinated with what I saw and heard about Bible translation.  The seed had sprouted and began to take root in my heart.

The third person was also a Bible translator, and I met her at a fundraising banquet for Wycliffe.  I was 18 and she was probably in her 60’s or older.  (My thought at first was, “Oh great, I get stuck next to an old lady!”)  But God spoke through this saint to me.  She told me story after story about Bible translation work, and I was quickly enraptured by her stories.  Then suddenly she asked an odd question.  She said, “Are you very good at math?”  I replied, “Yes, I get 90s and 95s all the time.  I love math.”  Then she replied to me, “Then you would make an excellent Bible translator.”  Wow!  Was this a prophetic word?  And the interest within became a burning desire from that time on.

Now jumping over many years, and without going into details of the many years and places that our wandering lives and various ministries took us, finally in 1993, while living in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (PEI), we got talking to an old college friend of mine.  I had been worn down and beaten through some tough ministry experiences and did not have a drive or a passion left in me.  And this shocked my friend, who then said, “I thought you always wanted to be a missionary!”  And that statement woke me up and rekindled the fire within to pursue a missionary career.

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What value does this story have for you and I today?  First, we all need to realize that God places people in our lives at strategic moments.  And in these moments, God will send us a message, one intended just for you or me.  God wants to speak through these people and help guide us into the things God would have us do.

Secondly, this story tells us that we must keep our spiritual eyes and ears open to be able to catch the messages God is trying to send us.  Are we listening?  Thirdly, we may never realize that we are the ones who might be impacting others with a word of wisdom or the planting of a vision.  So keep on sharing from your heart whatever God lays on your heart and leave it in God’s hand to bless what you say to the benefit of someone else.

But most important of all for me, is the spiritual truth that God often will plant a dream, a vision, a deep yearning for something in our heart, and if we will remain faithful to Him, and be honestly seeking to hear His voice, then these desires of our hearts are in fact also God’s desires and He will in every way strive to see these passions of our hearts come to pass.

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Scripture itself says it this way:

Psalm 20:4    “May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”

Psalm 37:4     “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

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