My sister-in-law, Vanessa, is a missionary that has spent time in countries such as: Samoa, China, Nepal and Tunisia. She has most recently been involved in an organization called Fount of Mercy that operates in Uganda. She has been going to Uganda for the last 4 or 5 years doing mission work and has most recently been heading up a project called CHI. This stands for Community Health Initiative and their goal is to equip women in Uganda with the skills and knowledge to improve their health and quality of life through prevention, sensitization, education and skills training.I always admired Vanessa for her work and thanked God that he was using her for such good work. I also really liked when missionaries would come to church to speak about the work that they were doing in other parts of the world that I had never visited. I was glad that these people were called to spread the Good News, but I wasn’t called, so I was happy to put a little bit of money in the love offering and pray for them.
In November of 2010, I picked up a book called Radical by David Platt and led a Bible study with some men at an IHOP restaurant on Wednesday mornings. This book changed my life, because for the first time ever, I realized that God calls everyone to mission work, not just some people. One of my favorite quotes from the book is, “Jesus commands us to go. He has created each of us to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, and I propose that anything less than radical devotion to this purpose is unbiblical Christianity.” At the end of the book, Platt lays out a plan for becoming a radical Christian. One of the steps of the plan is to spend time in another context. David says, “If we are going to accomplish the global purpose of God, it will not be primarily though giving our money, as important as that is. It will happen primarily through giving ourselves. This is what the gospel represents, and it’s what the gospel requires.” I listened to Platt’s advice and I went on a mission trip in June of 2011 to the Mescalero Apache’s of New Mexico. We spent time on this trip getting to know the Mescalero’s and served them through a family fun day at a campground near the reservation. This trip changed my life forever and it was during this trip, I realized that I did have a heart for missions and was indeed called to missions.
I had been been in prayer about where God was calling me to and I had hoped it would be to Brazil. I was fortunate enough to get to go on a peacock bass fishing trip on the Xingu river in Brazil. I absolutely loved the people and the country of Brazil. I even tried to learn some Portuguese to prepare myself to server in Brazil, but no doors ever seemed to open. I held out hope that an opportunity would present itself that I could grab to move my family to Brazil.
In May of 2012, I was given the opportunity to go to Catalyst Dallas with a group from Faith Baptist Church. This conference is primarily for church staff and leadership and I was neither, but I felt like the Spirit was leading me to the conference. I obeyed and went to the conference and while there, I was in prayer the whole time for the Lord to reveal His plans for my life. I never got my answer until the very last session of the day in which the speaker told us to “go home and be utilized by God where you are”. I took that to mean that I was to be a missionary at home and so I gave up on foreign missions.
The proper response to this would have been to go home and find ways to spread the Good News and make disciples; however, I did neither when I got home. I went home and got comfortable and did nothing to grow the Kingdom of God. I got so busy, that there was no time for that type of evangelism.
Things started to change in early 2013 when we started to study “God’s Heart for the Nations”. In this book, the author Jeff Lewis lays out God’s primary objective of making His name great to all the nations. During this study, The Holy Spirit began to soften my heart for foreign missions again and Uganda began to be laid on my heart as somewhere that I should go. I began to ask Vanessa lots of questions about Uganda. I began to see something about Uganda everywhere I turned. I began to think about Uganda. God revealed to me that I was to go to Uganda to serve as a missionary. One of the men in my Wednesday morning Bible studies even mentioned that I should go to serve in Uganda with Vanessa. I realized that my calling was to serve as a missionary in Uganda and help the men there to be men of faith and teach them entrepreneurial and business skills so that they can begin to build businesses to provide for their families and to help the economy in Uganda.
I began to struggle with how to tell Vicki that I felt called to move our family to Uganda. She spent her entire life in Archer City or Wichita Falls except for the short time we lived in Tulsa, and she loved living close to her family. We are comfortable. We live in the town she grew up in. Our kids go to school in the same school she went to and are taught by some of the same teachers that taught her. We live three houses down from her parents on the same street she grew up on. I know that comfort is a tactic of the devil, because if he can make us comfortable, we are not useful to God. I also know that growth requires stretching and often pain. I know that we were being called to get out of our comfort zone and grow and be used by God. I want to get to heaven and hear, “well done, good and faithful servant”, and not “well, I asked you do go and you told me “no””. I knew talking to Vicki about this would not be easy, but I knew I had to do it.
I began to talk to Vicki on a return trip to celebrate my niece’s 4th birthday while the girls were watching a movie and had headphones on. I explained the work that the Holy Spirit had been doing with me over the last couple of years. It was a shock to her, because I hadn’t shared much with her, because I was afraid of how she would react. She actually took it quite well and was willing to go where I led her. Her emotions went from being scared to death to excited and back to scared to death.
She was willing to follow, because the last time the Holy Spirit called me to move was to move to a different church. She struggled with the move, because we went to the same church she went to when she grew up. She didn’t understand why we had to drive past that church and drive 30 minutes to a different church. She saw that at the new church, I grew in my spiritual walk. I went from being afraid to pray in front of everyone to being comfortable praying in front of people, teaching Sunday school lessons, leading a Bible study, and going on a mission trip. She saw how much I changed that time the Holy Spirit called me to make a change and she was willing to follow this time.
Several days later, we invited Vanessa over for dinner to break the news to her that we felt like we were being called to serve in Uganda. While we talked, she broke into tears and told me that she already knew I was called because the Holy Spirit had been telling her for the last two years that I would be called. She thought she was going to have to convince me to go to Uganda to serve and was blown away by the fact that the Holy Spirit had already been working on me and I was ready to serve.
The next step is to seek guidance from some godly mentors and to plan a trip to Uganda to experience it for ourselves.