I’ve had lots of people ask me when I’m going to add another blog post. As I’ve said before, I’ve written lots of blog posts – in my head. But until I make time to write a new one, I’m going to post an article I wrote for Daring Daughters in 2012. So though it’s 3 years old, it’s still relevant. And it also answers another question I’m frequently asked. “How did I know I was called to missions.”
It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 15 years! I’ve been a missionary in the West African country of Niger since July, 1998. There are two questions I am often asked: Did I always know I wanted to be a missionary? Did I always know God wanted me to be a missionary? No, and no. But God knew. Here’s my story.
“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5
I was saved at the age of 7 and was raised in a Christian home by wonderful Christian parents. I’ve walked closely with the Lord since but it wasn’t until adulthood that I became acutely aware of God’s grace. I used to think that I didn’t really have a ‘story’. But a revelation while singing ‘Amazing Grace’ changed my mind. I did have an amazing story. It was the grace of God that saved me. He not only saved me from my sins, but He saved me from the powers of darkness of this world and kept me walking in His light all these years. It wasn’t my personality or my own determination or discipline that spared me from all the world had to ‘offer’. Simply put, it was God’s amazing grace. Now, the older I get, the more I see… and the more I see, the more thankful I am for that grace that saved me.
But I wasn’t just saved to be saved, I was called. So are you. My calling was to be a missionary, reaching the unreached. But fulfillment of that calling wasn’t going to just drop in my lap. I had some responsibility.
The seed was in me – as a 4 year old.
The Bible is full of instruction for our lives. There are a multitude of passages that talk about the blessings that follow us and our children when we walk in the way of the Lord.
We see in 1 Kings 2 where King David is at the end of his life and is giving instructions to his son Solomon. Solomon was called to succeed David on the throne.
“Now the days of David drew near that he should die, and he charged Solomon his son, saying: 2 “I go the way of all the earth; be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man. 3 And keep the charge of the Lord your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn; 4 that the Lord may fulfill His word which He spoke concerning me…”
Solomon’s calling came with requirements: Keep the charge of the Lord, walk in His ways, keep his commandments… Then you will prosper and the Lord will fulfill His word concerning you.
For God’s will and plan to be fulfilled in our lives, we must walk in His ways.
After high school, I attended Oral Roberts University. My sophomore year I met Neal. I was a chaplain and he was a freshman on my brother wing. He came straight from Nigeria, where he was raised as a missionary kid. He intrigued me. He was, as I like to describe him, ‘bush’. He spoke with a Nigerian accent and he thought downtown Tulsa was a huge metropolis. As the girls’ chaplain I had the responsibility of pairing the brother and sister wings with prayer partners. I did this by drawing names from a hat, but not before first pairing myself with Neal. Sneaky, I know.
A friendship began to develop into something more and on our 2nd official date Neal informed me that he was going to be a missionary. My thought?
“Whatever. He’s a business major. Once he gets going in his field, he’ll get over the missions thing.”
It’s not that I was opposed to full-time missions, I just wasn’t awakened yet to my calling. I had a natural trust in God and a desire to do exactly what He had planned for me. The seed was there, but it remained dormant.
Our relationship progressed as did Neal’s intensity for missions. I continued to trust God and prayed that if this was the man for me, that an actual desire to do missions would surface. As an upperclassman I would get frustrated when I would hear my friends talking specifically about their careers, how many children they would have, the type of home they would live in – all the way down to paint color! I didn’t have specifics on any of those things – and I didn’t really care about a white picket fence. All I knew for sure was that I wanted to do what God wanted me to do. I later realized that if I had predetermined my exact job and house color, it would not have lined up with Neal, and I may have assumed he wasn’t the one.
Here we are at ORU, the seed in both of us. Any guesses to the year? Hint: Big hair.
Our love grew and in 1989 we married. I graduated with a degree in Social Work and Neal, Management Information Systems. We both got jobs in our fields, while still pursuing ministry. We found a church home and were asked to be youth pastors. It wasn’t missions, but it was something that our hands found to do and we were determined to do it with all our might. It was preparation time. During our 5 years as youth leaders we sent kids on more than 30 summer mission trips, while patiently (sometimes) waiting our turn.
God continued to lead us and 8 years of marriage and 2 great kids later, the Lord directed us to attend Bible School to officially prepare for the field. During Bible School we received confirmation that the country of Niger would be our field.
We spent 10 months raising our support and during that time an amazing thing happened. I was sharing in my mom and dad’s church about how I had recently come across some of my elementary school papers and discovered that I had written a report on the country of Nigeria the same year Neal moved there. Coincidence? I think not. It was a germinating seed. I told also of a report I had written in junior high titled ‘Understanding Africa’ where I wrote that I wanted to be a missionary in Africa. I don’t even remember writing it, but my name was on it. The seed was there.
Later that evening my mom questioned me.
“Don’t you remember the prophecy spoken to you when you were 12? That you would be a rose, blooming in the desert?”
It wasn’t until she said that that the memory came back. Mom continued.
“What about the time I found you crying because you couldn’t understand why everyone couldn’t know Jesus?”
I was 7. The seed.
Our family in 1998, just before moving to the 10/40 nation of Niger, Africa. Trae, Danette, Tanika, Neal
Our family in 2001 with Tobi, our new addition.
The amazing thing about a spiritual seed is that it won’t die. It’s in you. Even if you haven’t been pursuing God as you should or are new in your walk with Him, it’s not too late! God’s seed, His plan for you – it’s in you. Even if it’s dormant. Wake it up! Begin germinating it by pursuing hard after Jesus and by walking in His ways. In Jeremiah 2:21 God said to the Israelites,
“Yet I had planted you a noble vine, a seed of highest quality.”
You are full of high quality seed!