I wrote to Tim and Marsha last week and asked them what I thought would be a very simple question. You always hear of people stating that they have been "called" to go to the mission field. I posed this question to Marsha and ask her if she would respond. I think that so often we think it is typically that exact moment that you will never forget but I have discovered that we have all been called. I have been raised in a Southern Baptist Church since I was in utero and on the Craddle List before I was ever born. Missions is a part of me. It always has been and always will be. When Marsha wrote me back, it was an "Ah-Ha" moment for me. As we focus on our Foreign Missionaries this month, please be praying for them and the work that they do day in and day out. Please read below and continue praying for Tim and Marsha.
“A call to missions” is an interesting term. From one perspective, there can be a clear call to a particular place or a particular work. You know what I mean – a moment in time! From another perspective, the call can be to live a life of giving of yourself no matter where you live. This person is one who is always available to “go” to anyone regardless of the need – no matter where they live. My call to missions was somewhere in the middle of those two perspectives. I sensed for many years that God would send me outside the United States. There was never a moment in time when I heard God and responded to “go”. I clearly heard the “go” of the Great Commission and I responded with a resounding “yes, Lord”. For years, “go” meant short term trips to India, Nepal, Brazil, Ecuador and Ukraine.
In 2007, Tim came to the decision that God was calling us to Ukraine and I didn’t question it. It had been a process and we could see where it was heading. No one was really surprised. But, I also didn’t feel a particular call to Ukraine. I kept hearing people say that you needed to “be sure of your call” or the difficult times on the field would make you doubt whether or not you should be there. A couple of times I asked the Lord if I had missed something. I trusted Him. I trusted Tim to listen to Him. And, I had committed to obey the Lord and follow Tim.
My first call is to Christ. Next, my call is to be Tim’s wife. Christ has called me to be a helper for Tim. He’s asked me to support him and pray for him and make a home that allows him to do what God has asked of him. I’ve taught women for years that their first call after their call to Christ is a call to their husbands. Through this move to Ukraine, God has given me the opportunity to live out every truth that I’ve ever taught. And, I have had the privilege of seeing that if I’m true to Christ, I can trust Him to lead my husband.
During our training, we continued to hear people say you “must be sure of your call”. I’d hear that and wonder if I was “sure”. Almost immediately I knew I was sure, but still no moment in time for me. Then we had several days of training on spiritual warfare taught by Dr. Jerry Rankin, President of the IMB. Dr. Rankin gave us his testimony and shared that he never received a clear call or a moment in time when he knew he was to “go”. But, he put into words the thoughts I had repeatedly thought myself. I had an almost identical experience to him in regards to “a call to missions”. My call was to Christ and the Lord was revealing His will for my life one step at a time.
I’ve now met hundreds of missionaries. I’ve listened to their stories. Everyone has their own story of how they were called to missions. Through their testimonies and my personal experience, I’ve come to believe that our call matches our spiritual “leash-length”. (I think in visuals and this has been a visual I could understand.) Consider that I’m on a spiritual leash with Christ at the other end. God keeps the ones that He can’t trust very close so they won’t wander too far. He allows others to hear His voice and gives them a little more leash-length because they can be trusted not to wander. (That’s Tim). No doubt, someone like Billy Graham can be on a very long leash! Not so with me. For whatever reason, the Lord needs to keep me on a short leash. A short leash reminds me that I’m following Him and doesn’t allow me too much opportunity to choose my own way or wander off. (He tried putting me on a long leash years ago and found out that I’d fail Him every time.)
We’re all called to do particular works (Eph. 2:10). That’s my life verse. But, the ultimate call is to Christ! My call is to Him ….. to be lost in Him …….. to be His hands and feet wherever He leads.
Am I sure of the call to missions in Ukraine? Absolutely!
Have I had times of doubt? Absolutely!
Have I had moments that I questioned Tim’s call? Absolutely!
When things get hard (and they do), I question everything …… everything, but my Lord!
My call is to Him. My prayer is that He will find Tim and I available to be used however and wherever He chooses. At this time in our lives, we have been called to serve the Lord in Ukraine. We do so humbly, with complete certainty that He has brought us here.
A call to missions …… we all received one! Read it for yourself in Matthew 28:19-20. One clear thing I’ve learned is that every nation on earth has its share of lost people who need to know the good news of Jesus Christ. The U.S. is in great spiritual need today and your call may be right where you are! If you’re married, pray for your husband to know God’s will for your lives. Do all that you can to allow your husband to hear from the Lord. Guard his quiet time as much as you guard your own. God will speak to both of you, no matter how long your leashes are. But, when we allow the call on our lives to line up with the authority God has laid out in Scripture, we can be sure of our call and we can go, fully trusting God to lead and provide wherever He sends.
Thank you so much!!!!!!!
Loving and Praying for You,