Where do I begin in describing our thoughts right now?
My husband, L, is going to finish his master's degree in Theology this summer. Naturally, the question arose: what comes next? Prior to this adventure into school, L was just working a 9-5 job that he didn't care much about--certainly not a long term career, just an honest way to earn a living. I had quit my similarly uninteresting job a few months earlier to stay home with our first son, A. Since high school (long before we met each other), we've both felt as though God ultimately wants us to serve Him full time in ministry. After college we had gotten a bit sidetracked, but in the past 2-3 years, that desire to give our lives completely and unreservedly to God for His work has been renewed. That's the nutshell that brings us to a few months ago when we started asking "what's next?"
L and I both love to teach. We both get energized at opportunities to communicate what we know to others who want to know it. We both also are confident leaders, although our leadership styles and abilities are vastly different. I also tend to get excited about administrative tasks, while L could discuss theology and philosophy all day. So what do we do with this and with L's education? Where does God want us next?
I've always been drawn to international ministry. Part of it may be the excitement of travel, and learning other languages and understanding a new culture. But I think most of that desire comes from the knowledge that there is just so many more needs than in the US, and so many less people to meet those needs.
L is a different story, though. He'd considered missions long ago and concluded that he could be much more effective teaching in his own culture and in his own language. He also likes to travel and such, but he just felt that it doesn't really make a lot of sense to send missionaries all over the world and spend all this extra money to fly them there and establish a new life there when ultimately a missionary is not nearly as natural as a native church-goer in spreading the Gospel in an effective way. Sure, there's remote corners of the world that don't even have the seed of a church, but neither of us feels as though the initial evangelizing of a culture is a good match for us. We're more the type to take an eager learner and give them everything we can. And for that, it seemed to L that letting local people pass on what they know is simply more effective.
But a few months ago, he started questioning that conclusion. He started seeking out people who had been connected with the international church and asking them what they thought about it. The response was overwhelmingly in agreement that there was an intense need in developing countries for exactly the kind of teaching and discipleship that we think God has prepared us to do. There are countries where the majority of the pastors don't have a high school education, let alone any Biblical training. Imagine that! The person who is trying to lead the church doesn't even understand the Bible for himself.
Suddenly, the whole world opened up to us. Why should we limit ourselves to the US when there is so much need that we are equipped to meet in so many places?!?!
So here we are. We have a number of personal connections to one missions agency, and we feel like their values and such are all agreeable to us, so we've started conversations with them. They've connected us with missionaries in a few African countries that we've begun talking to to see if the work they are doing is a good fit for us.
In the meantime, we met with one of the pastors at our church today. It was a good meeting. He gave good direction for us spiritually. I'll probably be thinking about it a lot in the near future, and therefore will probably write more about it later. He also went through a few of the logistics of the process with us. We'll apply first with the church for them to send us as missionaries, and when we get the go-ahead from them, we'll apply with a mission board.
So that's where we are right now. There is SO MUCH more that I could say about all of this, but this is getting long and I just wanted to write something that would bring whoever is reading this up to speed on what's going on. This post feels very dry and factual, but there is a lot of history to cover--I can flesh out the thoughts later.
I should also note that I feel incredibly weird writing with "L" and "A" and other anonymous nonsense. However, I just read a friend's blog where she had a crazy privacy breech and in the end had to go back and change everything to make it anonymous. I'm saving myself the potential trouble and concern of that by just starting with annonymity, even though it feels very bizarre. I expect that most of my readers are friends that I have in real life who know our actual identity, so you'll be able to fill in the blanks that I leave (and please don't identify us if you leave a comment!)
Thanks for reading and joining us in this journey!