Recently a young lady wrote to me with the following questions:
When you first found out you were being called to be a missionary? What are some steps you took to get there? What did you have to go through to become a missionary?
Below is my response:
1. After I surrendered my life to God, to do whatever He wanted, I began to look for ways to serve him where I was. I got involved in my church. I got involved with a Christian puppet team, and in an area youth association.
2. I had already been to Brazil for two months, and was feeling an intense desire to return. Not one to trust my feelings, I sought out some areas of ministry that did not have anything to do with Brazil. I even took a missions trip to Russia. Through all of this, I could not get Brazil out of my mind.
3. Since I couldn’t extinguish the burning desire I had for Brazil, I decided to pursue a short-term missions trip there. I figured that if God was going to open or close the door, He could do it then. God used my puppet skills (see #1) to open up an opportunity for me to start a puppet team at a Christian college in Brazil. From the moment I stepped off the plane in Brazil, I knew that I was home. While in Brazil, there were several things God used to confirm His calling: a) I had no trouble picking up the language. By the end of my two years there, I was speaking Portuguese like a native. b) Brazilian believers expressed to me their desire that I return. c) I saw many opportunities for ministry in which I could be involved. d) God worked a change in me to where I am more comfortable in Brazilian culture than my own. Cultural adaptation took more time and was more difficult than language learning, but God “pulled it off” in my life. d)At just the right time, God brought a Brazilian woman into my life with the same burden for her country that I had. We began dating at the end of my two-year missions trip.
4. After returning home from Brazil, my only focus in life was returning to Brazil (ok, so maybe getting married figured in there somewhere as well). My girlfriend (we were engaged in the summer of 1999) was completing her education in Brazil, and I began looking around for a good Bible College here in the States. I finally settled on Spurgeon Baptist Bible College in Mulbery, Florida (now part of Carolina University). I chose Spurgeon because its focus was on Bible training, it had graduated some very good missionaries, and it very cost-effective. The school has changed somewhat since I attended, but it is still a good place to train for the ministry. I graduated from there in 2000, and was married in the summer of that same year.
5. While at Spurgeon, I was able to associate with Fellowship Baptist Church. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of finding a good, solid church family. I cannot imagine trying to go “solo” without the support, encouragement, and accountability of my church family.
6. I took some “time out” from my quest for missions in Brazil in order to establish my family. Starting a new life on the mission field as well as a new life of matrimony would probably not have worked out very well.
7. While I was working in Brazil, I worked closely with missionaries there from Baptist Mid-Missions. This is a great missions agency out of Cleveland, OH, with missionaries all over the world. I am extremely gratefull to be a part of this missionary family. Choosing a good mission agency is second only to chosing a good sending church. Mission agencies provide fellowship, accountability, and teamwork while on the field that your home church cannot provide by itself. They also provide financial, logistical, and infra-structural services to missionaries that free us up to do the work God calls us to do. Baptist Mid-Missions was the logical choice for us, because we had worked with their team in Brazil. If you are interested, I can get you some more information about this particular missions. There are other good boards as well. I think I gave you the links to those in my last letter.
8. Once we joined the mission board, we began the process called “deputation”. This is the process where we go to as many churches as possible to present the ministry to which God has called us. Some of those churches will agree to partner with us financially. When enough do that, we will go to the field. We are looking forward to that day, but also enjoying the ministry God has given to us now.
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