I get a few different reactions when I tell people that I’m going to teach in Uganda. “Really?” “That’s great!” and/or “I’ll be praying for you!” Keep the prayers coming! For those of you who think I’m crazy or this is last minute or I’m silly to give up my comforts here, you have some legitimate reasoning. I think you need to see that God has been preparing me for this for a long time.
You seen I’ve wanted to minister in Africa since I was 12 years old after I saw a magazine picture of an African child’s face filled with joy. She watching a puppet show put on by Saddleback Community Church’s mission team. It was then that I decided I was going. Yet, I look even further back to the fact that I had an obsession with leopard clothing and accessories and LOVED big cats and “The Lion King” movie. I also loved learning a song in Swahili from missionaries kids’ who taught us during a missions conference when I 11 or 12 years olds. Then in college, I loved learning a song in Swahili in university chorale. Those things may seem silly, but in reality they were not. I guess you could say God gave me a vision or my BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal as Dr. Falwell would have said) a couple of years ago. Here is what I wrote then:
My Calling February 23, 2008
I have been wondering now for awhile, why God has left me single when marriage is the cry of my heart. I want a husband and children, yet nothing is on the horizon. And I wonder why? Elisabeth Elliot explains what to do with those longings:
“I have tried to explain it sometimes to people who are lonely and longing for love. “Give it to Jesus,” I say. The loneliness itself is material for sacrifice. The very longings themselves can be offered to Him who understands perfectly. The transformation into something He can use for the good of others takes place only when the offering is in his hands. What will He do with these offerings? Never mind. He knows what to do.” Passion and Purity p.67.
I am called to minister to children. God has put that burden on my heart for awhile now. Every missions conference I get excited and know that I will have a part somewhere in the Great Commission. I just know that my part will be different than that of many. I am a teacher and I love children, so I will not be your typical missionary. But God never said I was to be typical anyway. I have wanted to go to Africa since I was 12 years old, when I saw a picture of an African child jumping with joy that was watching a mission team from Saddleback Community Church. And that dream has not left me. That dream has only been fueled further at Liberty and developed as I am getting a Master of Arts in teaching for elementary education following completion of my degree in Family and Child Development.
Matthew 10: 42
And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
I was preparing myself for bed the other night, when I picked up my teen bible that is NKJV, not the version I usually read even. I turned to Isaiah 54 and read these verses:
1 “Sing, O barren,
You who have not borne!
Break forth into singing, and cry aloud,
You who have not labored with child!
For more are the children of the desolate
Than the children of the married woman,” says the LORD.
2 “ Enlarge the place of your tent,
And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings;
Do not spare;
Lengthen your cords,
And strengthen your stakes.
3 For you shall expand to the right and to the left,
And your descendants will inherit the nations,
And make the desolate cities inhabited.
4 “ Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed;
Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame;
For you will forget the shame of your youth,
And will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore.
5 For your Maker is your husband,
The LORD of hosts is His name;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel;
He is called the God of the whole earth.
6 For the LORD has called you
Like a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit,
Like a youthful wife when you were refused,”
Says your God.
7 “ For a mere moment I have forsaken you,
But with great mercies I will gather you.
8 With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment;
But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,”
Says the LORD, your Redeemer.
13 All your children shall be taught by the LORD,
And great shall be the peace of your children.
14 In righteousness you shall be established;
You shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear;
And from terror, for it shall not come near you.
15 Indeed they shall surely assemble, but not because of Me.
Whoever assembles against you shall fall for your sake.
17 No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD,
And their righteousness is from Me,”
Says the LORD.
These verses are actually speaking of the nation of Israel, but it makes me wonder if the Lord has many spiritual children for me instead of my own, at least for a time. That there will be so many that there won’t be enough room for them. God will be enough for me and bringing children into his kingdom is more important than building my own, at least for the present. At times I may feel forsaken, but I am not! God has plans for me and that may not include my own children, but his! To think these children will be taught by the Lord! Again, these verses from Mark encourage me still further that if I give up what I want for the Lord’s sake he will bless me! Instead of a few of my own children, perhaps I will have many in the Lord.
I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. 31But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
Jim Elliot said succinctly what I mean when he wrote,
“I am a single man [woman in my case] for the kingdom’s more rapid advance, its more potent realization in my own life. But where is that advance and that realization? I am willing that “my house on earth be emptier,” but not unless “His house be fuller”. Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot p. 160
So while I long for a family of my own, I need to live out his purposes and “Let not our [my] longing slay the appetite of our [my] living) Passion and Purity p. 160.
For after all, my purpose is this:
James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
How better to do that than forget about building kingdoms here in the land of materialism and got to a country where people have little and are happy if they only can know and learn about Jesus!
I John 2:15-17
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
Back to Now June 2010
Back to February of this year 2010 (two years later) after my BHAG was formed, I applied to teach at another international school in Africa. I was ready to take a job there, but was cautioned to wait on my decision. I did wait and these horrible feelings of dread and depression came over me. I decided not to take the job, even though the school would have been great. It just was not what God has for me. At the point, I was still hoping God would provide a job at my current school at home, Tomahawk Elementary. Things began to look dim, as there was talk of cuts being made, but it appeared that my aide position would be safe. I continued to apply to other local schools in hopes of getting a job there. Then on May 22, my job was cut and teachers were even cut, so I knew there was no hope of a job there.
By June 7th, I was feeling hopeless and frustrated and prayed as I drove to work and gave it over to the Lord. After work, I had a voicemail about coming in for an interview at a Lynchburg City School. I went to the interview the next day and things went well. In the meantime, following an encouraging conversation with my best friend, Christi, I decided to contact a college friend, who was teaching in Uganda, about teaching at the school were she was teaching. Her intial facebook message told me that they only had high school positions, so I thought well at least I know. Then two days later they had a 5th grade position. I decided to apply and filled out an application. By June 18th, I had an interview with the principal via Skype and was supposed to get my answer on the 21st. I waited and waited and heard nothing, so I emailed to check and see what had happened. I got a quick and courteous reply with the job offer on June 22nd, one month after losing my other job and just before vacation! I had prayed earlier that God would provide a job for me before I went on vacation! Meanwhile, I still had no news from the first interview in Lynchburg City. Shortly before I emailed the principal in Uganda on the 24th, I heard that I was not chosen for the job in Lynchburg City. God closed all the doors, so I would have to go through the window in this case. So, God has taken this weak, passionate, trembling, excited, crazy clay jar to use for his glory.
So this little girl, that has loved missions, but never felt like she could be a regular missionary, will soon be a missionary of sorts. Thankfully, God is using the gifts He has given me as a teacher. I like how Jim Elliott put it, “Missionaries are very ordinary folks. They are just nobodies, trying to exalt Somebody!” So you know, being normal is just what God wants, because then He can use you! “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart!” Psalm 37:4. I can take no glory for ANY of this, I’m still learning to “delight myself in the Lord,” but somehow is HIS greatness He has given me the “desires of my heart” a teaching job in Uganda!
Let me leave you with one last verse that hit me while I was trying to decide if I should take the position in Uganda.
2 Corinthians 9:8, “And God is able to make ALL GRACE ABOUND to YOU, so that in ALL THINGS at ALL TIMES, having ALL that YOU NEED, you will ABOUND in EVERY GOOD WORK.” (emphasis mine)