If you tuned in last week and watched the devotional, “My Heart for Missions,” then you now know why I have a heart for different areas of our world. Hopefully my story gave you insight into my desires to visit foreign lands and meet people in distant places.
This week I want to share why that very first experience to Chiang Mai, Thailand changed the way I saw the world after returning to America. I want to explain to you why reaching our world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ is so incredibly crucial and why it is time for each of us to get out of our comfort zones.
When I came back to America after spending a month in Thailand, I could barely function. My desire to go back into a 9-5 work environment was low. Now remember, at this point I had been working professionally for only one year. You see, when I first learned sign language, I was excited to get as highly certified as I could and make a lot of money. That was my main goal. Now, less than a year of professional interpreting on my resume and one international trip, I could not stop thinking about the other “why” I had really learned ASL. It was now crystal clear to me, God needed me to utilize my skill to share His story with those who could not hear.
For the next three years, each summer I prayed about opportunities to travel and told God I was willing if He asked me to “go.” Each and every time I went overseas, God brought specific deaf people in my path and every time my mind was blown. God knows what He is doing. To be completely real and honest, sometimes I doubt that. Then I think about the encounters of my past and I am reaffirmed in God’s greatness over my life. All of us doubt God is able when it comes to various points in life, the key is not to stay there. Satan puts doubt into our minds, but if you think long enough I guarantee you will think of some moment in your life when God’s greatness awed you.
International travel by way of worldwide missions changed every aspect of my life. I no longer looked at deaf people as “clients,” but looked at them as real people with real needs and real struggles. I came to realize ASL was a gift God allowed me to succeed in and it is not just a “fun” job to help you earn a paycheck. It is to connect me with people who have dramatically changed the way I think about everything. It was at this point in my life I realized a career in interpreting for the next forty years would never be enough. God created me for something more. It was not a radical change overnight. I travelled to four different countries over the span of four years before I began to pursue a path for full time missionary service. Although it made sense for me to pursue this path, God did not open any doors for me. I contacted several companies handing them my life saying, “Send me anywhere!” But God was not saying yes. It was frustrating.
In the midst of it all, I met my husband and we wound up in The Federated States of Micronesia for a year. My husband and I were gifted the only deaf person on the island to be our student. Ironic? I hardly think so.
In Romans 10:13 Paul says, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” In verse 14 he begs the questions, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”
In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus tells the disciples to, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Psalm 96:3 says, “Declare his glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples!”
Scripture is constantly speaking to the fact that we are to declare the Lord to all the nations. It is commanded and the desire of our Father’s heart that all may come to know Him.
It is easy to think this way when we are on a trip with that specific intended purpose in mind, but our world is our mission field. Anytime I am out in public, that is my mission field. The grocery store, the airport, the walk to the mailbox when I see my neighbor, those places are our mission fields.
The biggest takeaway I have from my international travels is looking at the world with intentionality. There are lost, hurting people everywhere. We come into contact with them daily. I need to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and follow in obedience to reach those who need Him. That is our purpose and missions has taught me that is my greatest purpose.