How I Became a Missionary – Part 2

In 1979, I learned a huge lesson in the area of trusting God.  It started in the Summer of 1978, it was challenged through the Winter and Spring of 1979, and then was rewarded in the Summer of 1979 with a success so fantastic that it blew my mind, but swelled my heart with love for God and increased my  faith considerably.

Here’s how it began.  I attended a High School-Young Adult camp week at our church’s Christian Camp.  The entire week was great, but the hour session that I looked forward to the most was the daily presentation from different missionaries.  For three years at this point, I was firm in my belief that God was calling me to become a missionary.  In an earlier post, “God Spoke Through People“, I shared about four individuals that influenced my life to eventually become a Bible Translator.  But there was one more woman named Lois who impacted me powerfully at this Youth Camp in the Summer of 1978.

I think it was a Wednesday that Lois spoke to our group about a mission which she had gone on, Teen Missions International.  She showed us her pictures, she told us what the project was and what country they worked in.  But what caught my attention most was the fact that Teen Missions accepts Teenagers to go on these mission trips.  Makes sense, since that is part of their mission title.  But I had been dreaming of doing mission work for three years now, and in all that time, I never came across a mission that could really use teenagers.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

So I took the literature and was amazed to see that each summer, TMI was sending over 1500 teenagers all around the globe to more than 50 countries in the world.  Hot Dog!!  That Fall I started my first year at the University of Calgary, but I did another first too.  I made my first application to a mission group.  I was determined to go the next year into the deep Amazon rainforest and do construction on a New Tribes Mission  base camp in the jungle.

The two requirements, besides being a Christian, were to get 100 prayer supporters to stand with me on this mission experience, and to raise the financial support to pay for the trip.  The first requirement was easy as I had accepted Christ and was baptized when I was 12 and been actively part of the church since then.  To raise up 100 Prayer Partners was a challenge, but this too fell into place after I shared my vision for doing mission work with many people.  It was the third requirement that became the real test.  It tested me to see who I really was, and it tested my faith in God.

I believe the original target was for me to raise $1,450 to be on a Brazil team.  The acceptance package that I got from TMI had lots of ideas of how to raise support, and it included about 100 bookmark prayer cards with my picture and details of the project.  The info in the package explained the need to have as many prayer and financial partners standing behind you to help make this goal of becoming a missionary possible.

But at this point in my Christian life, I was not at the point that I felt comfortable asking people for money so I could go on this “Grand Exciting Missionary Adventure”.  I felt that as a strong 18-year-old, who already held down two-part time jobs along with University studies, could find ways to earn his own money to pay for the trip.  By late Winter, just before classes ended, I added a third part-time job, and after school was out, I added a fourth part-time job.  See what I mean?  I was strong.  I was able.  I didn’t need other people.  (Oops, see where this is going?)

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

And then an amazing thing happened.  One by one, I ended up losing not one or two, but all of my four jobs.  Some had been temporary, some the work declined and they let some of us go, and one job said they didn’t need me anymore.  I don’t think I was fired, but I certainly was released.  And there I was about one month away from my time of departure for the mission trip, and I was still quite a few hundred dollars short.

I was in shock!  I was angry with God!  Didn’t He want me to be a missionary?  I begged God, I pleaded with Him to help me find one more job to get the money together.  Then he reminded me about the fund-raising packet I had been sent.  I really couldn’t see how people, most of whom knew very little about me, would ever decide to support this mission trip.  But slowly my stubborn heart broke before God, and I said I would send out the materials, and trust in Him to see the remainder come in.

The instructions said to make a list of everyone you knew, family, friends, teachers, long-lost relatives, people you met even 5 years ago, etc.  I was somewhat skeptical, but I did what it told me to do.  And then I did the only other thing I could do.  I prayed, and I prayed, and I prayed.  And I found I got to the place where I really did believe that God could do this.  And in the coming days, I saw letters come back to me,  some with encouraging words, some with a cheque.  And often, the gift was only $10 or $20.  But it did start to add up and I could see the goal getting closer each day.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

And then it came down to the last week before I was to leave.  I was still about $150 short.  I laid this before God, and I said, “God, if you really, really want me to do this and begin my journey to becoming a missionary, then I am asking you to not only supply the final $150, but do it in such a way that I will never doubt your faithfulness to sustain me nor doubt my calling to be a missionary.”

It was the night before I was to leave, and still I was short some money.  Then somehow, from somewhere, I can’t remember because I thought I might be wrong about this whole thing, I found that an envelope had been put in my hands.  When I asked my mom who it was from or where it came from, she said she didn’t know.  So I slowly opened the envelope, and inside it was a cheque.  I held my breath as I slowly pulled it out.  I turned it over and almost stopped breathing.

The whole trip was about $1,450, I was short still by about $100.  I blinked twice to make sure I wasn’t seeing it wrong.  There in my hands was a cheque for $1,472.  The entire mission trip was completely covered by one anonymous donor.  Not only did God provide for my need, He did so in such a dramatic way (the last night) with such a grand financial gift, that I had no doubt that going on this mission trip was definitely His will for me.  And it was the pivotal moment that gave me my assurance of my calling to be a missionary.

Psalm 34:8  Taste and see that the LORD is good;

blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.