“Are You sure, Lord? An AFM mission call to the Tai-Kadai Project in Southeast Asia? Now, when my hair is gray? When You called us before to short-term mission service, I was brave for my girls. We loved being missionaries even when the going was tough, but we had each other. Now that I am alone, my courage fails me.”
For weeks I struggled with the Lord. The evening before I had to give my final answer to AFM’s call, I went for a walk alone with God. Gently He led my thoughts back over the years.
I was born into a loving Seventh-day Adventist home where books, reading and storytelling ran like threads of gold through every day. Mother was gifted at transporting us into the heart of any story she read or told. Pets and bicycles were our favorite activities, but when the weather kept us indoors, my brothers and I would gather around our little record player with puzzles or coloring books and listen to Eric B. Hare tell mission stories. Those old 45-RPM records still hold a special place in my heart.
My parents were both teachers and early instilled in each of their four children a love of books. Our family-room library was ever expanding with stories of missionaries and faraway places. As the years passed, I happily traversed the pages of more mission books than I can count. Those books shaped my goals and dreams. How well I remember, at age 12, sitting with my friend on the top rail of a fence, as country girls do, in deep conversation about our future plans. “When I grow up,” I declared confidently, “I’m going to be a missionary doctor.” That dream was my guiding light through high school and into college. But the dream shattered when my health broke at the end of my freshman year of college, and I had to drop out of school far short of my medical-school goal.
Sitting here at my computer and reflecting back over the years, I marvel at how patiently and tenderly God carried me through what was to come. Would I have chosen the heartaches and broken dreams the next 15 years would bring? Absolutely not! But neither would I trade what I’ve learned—what God taught me—about mercy, compassion and forgiveness through the experiences that shattered my world. God is the Master Potter, and He knows how to create beauty out of brokenness. What looks useless to us is useful in His eyes.
Fast-forward to the late 1990s. As a busy single mom with two daughters—a teenager and a pre-teen—I once again loved life, which overflowed with work, church, school activities and helping to care for my aging parents. Although I had long since forgotten my dreams of being a missionary, God hadn’t. Through amazing providences, He led my little family to a year of service in Asia and two short-term opportunities in South America. In time, I learned about Adventist Frontier Missions and happily contributed to the launch of various missionaries. In 2010, I prayerfully joined Joelle Thea’s support team as she answered the call to the Tai-Kadai people.
Returning from my walk, my heart was still. Clearly God was calling me to move from the support team to the frontlines. Slowly, imperceptibly, He melted my fears and renewed my courage. He reminded me that this step in my life, like all those before, was about His strength, not mine. And so I answered, “Yes, Lord. I will go.”