“God is closing in on some of you. He is like the ‘Hound of Heaven’ who means to make you far happier in some dangerous and dirty work. Missionaries and ministers of mercy don’t come from nowhere. They come from people like you, stunned by the glory of God and stopped in your tracks. Sometimes it happens when you are going in exactly the opposite direction.” -John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life I was working as a therapeutic aid in an elementary school classroom when I first read the above quote by John Piper. I felt as if John Piper was speaking directly to me. I had an idea of what a missionary was – WHO a missionary was- and I knew I was not that person. Yet while reading Piper’s words, I felt God nudging my heart to the possibility that it could be me. I felt God reassuring me that He would qualify me, He would help prepare me. I knew that I just needed to be willing. To be completely honest, setting out to be a long term missionary overseas was very scary at first. It’s still daunting! I know that God will give me grace and strengthen me for what He has called our family to do.
So, truly experiencing God has been and will be an ongoing experience for me. I trusted Christ as my Savior when I was a very young child, but throughout my adult years I have made my faith my own, and have spent many seasons in my life experiencing God in very deep ways. I specifically saw this during the process of preparing to move to Japan, and I still do – in my daily struggles in a new country.The times I feel the presence of God most strongly are during times when I’m taking risks by sharing my faith, or going through a difficult season.
C: What is one thing God has been teaching you this season of your life?
There were times leading up to the move that were very uncertain and scary for us. My husband lost his job after we had our second child (because he was moving overseas and they wanted to train his replacement) and that was difficult. It was right before Christmas. The Lord met all of our needs plus some. It was so scary to go through that season, and literally trust, week to week, where our income was going to come from. I realized then that having a job isn’t any more secure than not having a job – in terms of true, absolute control. We have no idea what our lives will be like – and what will happen to us. We had to trust God to meet our needs. That season helped me a lot when we transitioned to being missionaries, because our entire income is based solely on the generosity of others. The month before we moved to Japan we were staying with my husband’s sister because we already left our house in Pennsylvania. We were living out of suitcases, we gave away or donated 85% of our belongings, and the rest of our things were on a boat to Japan. That was a little scary. One year before that we had really great jobs, and then suddenly we gave it all up to move. That process really helped me trust in God and to receive my true security from Him. He alone is our Provider.
C: How do you keep your eyes fixed on God when storms come your way?
To be honest, this has become more difficult since moving to Japan. I don’t get in the car and turn on Christian radio, because there isn’t any. I ride my bike 95% of the time, and unless I think to stream the music, I sometimes forget to turn it on. We attend a church in a language we don’t yet understand. We left our support system and families in America. We have to work harder and fight for time with God. I have learned to be diligent about being in Scripture. I have to seek out ways to be fed spiritually, it doesn’t happen naturally. Something that helps me is praying when I’m on my bicycle, hanging laundry or just doing chores.
C: What are some verses that you often cling to as a reminder of His goodness?
The #1 verse that helped encourage me as we worked to come here: Ephesians 3:20-21 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
C: If you could encourage those out there who are fearful of letting go and trusting God, what would you say?
Sometimes it’s easy to look at someone else’s life and think “wow, I can’t imagine doing that”. The Lord gives you grace for the day – for YOUR day. Not for someone else’s. He will give you strength and provision. When I made the decision to become a missionary, the Lord gave me grace for that day. He didn’t give me grace for a day 15 years later. I can look back now at the years leading up to the move to Japan and see how everything came together to get us here. I have to remember that, because honestly, moving here was the easiest decision, and as I write this, I pray that I will be reminded to trust God with today. So for now, I trust God with my Thursday.