Thursday, November 6, 2014

Team of the Week: Tropical Fisherman

 Do you have a passion for sharing Christ, and like to have fun? You will be sharing the gospel and making disciples on campus, meeting students, letting them practice & improve their English, playing sports with them, going with them hiking in the mountains or a volcano or swimming in the ocean, visiting their boarding houses, etc. As you build relationships, make them thirsty to know Christ and how they can know Him like you do. Influence them to become followers of Christ.

IMB Job #: 110159  More info!!
Location: Philippines
Team size: 10 students needed (male & female)
Field expense:  $1678 + round-trip airfare, travel insurance, passport costs, etc.

Dates for Summer 2015:
April 1: Deadline for applications
May 28: Member orientation begins
June 2: Teams travel to the field
July 28: Teams return for debrief
July 31: Students return home

Monday, November 3, 2014

I don't know if I'm "called" to missions... but I'm going

I have been chewing on these thoughts since mid-August, coming home from another country which claimed my heart, after experiencing the hardest most beautiful summer I have ever endured.  

I feel hesitant to call this blog an explanation; but maybe it is. And I am okay with that. I desire to convey and condense my thousands of thoughts on this subject in one blog to answer the questions it seems I’ve been given (and even been asking myself) for months now. This is my confusion, my back and forth, my journal entries, my crying out to God for answers, and these are the answers it seems He has given me. 

First, let’s define a few things. 

Called

If I am being totally honest here, I have grown to really dislike this word, and maybe this is because of its usage and possibly misinterpretation in Christian circles.
 

The day I became a Christian is the day I became a disciple, a missionary, a teacher of the Word, a devout follower of Jesus to the ends of the earth. So imagine my confusion being a part of many different ministries and hearing that someone has recently been “called to the ministry”, “called to be a missionary”, etc. 

Wait.
That’s a separate calling from becoming a follower of Christ? 


We find in Matthew 4, Mark 1, Luke 5, and John 1 the calling of Jesus’s first disciples. He calls them and it says immediately…immediately they follow Him. It isn’t that somewhere along the way of following this Messiah they finally come to the realization that they were called to do what they were already doing. It started in the moment they got up and left what they were doing, their families and loved ones, their own hopes and dreams. Of course, they messed up. A lot. The disciples are known for getting a bad reputation in obeying and understanding Jesus while He was in their very presence, but they still followed. All bets off, all decisions made in simply standing up and following Him the first time He called. The ministry is not reserved for only special Christians. 

I was called to the ministry the day my eyes were opened and I realized my need for a Savior. I was called to share and live and die for this faith the moment I found the Truth worth sharing and living and dying for.
And so were you. 


In a flood of nostalgia, I am back in the place where God broke my heart for the voiceless, unclaimed, hopeless, destitute, orphans of the flesh and of the Spirit. I’m back on the dusty prayer room floor scribbling out a journal entry I am still going back to to this day. It’s where I wrote to my God that I would follow Him anywhere and everywhere, no matter the cost, no matter the sacrifice. 

To get to this place, God didn’t have to come down riding on the clouds and in a thundering voice command me to be obedient. Three years ago, I realized the need to experience and share with another people, so I went. And when I saw it face-to-face, when I stood in a crowd of hundreds who had never heard, when I found friendship in the most unlikely of places and the hopeless became dear to me, I knew I could never be the same. My perception of a calling could never be the same. 
I could never just come back and live the American dream, hoping to finish college, get married, have kids, live comfortably and attend church two to three times a week, waiting to see if this God would awake me in a dead sleep and in a booming voice tell me that He wanted me to be a missionary in another country.
And I’m convinced this rarely, if ever, happens.

Going
Let’s just define this as “doing”—putting effort forth, trying, making plans and waiting for God to say no. 

Wait. What?

So many believers are so quick to say they are “willing” to go, but they are only making plans to stay. This doesn’t really add up. What if we were planning to go, but only willing to stay? Meaning we make every effort to go, to take this News to those who have never even had a chance to hear, knowing fully that God is sovereign, and that if He in fact wanted us to stay, He would stop us. 

Now we get to the sticky part. Does God need us? To which, I strongly say absolutely not. He’s God. He holds all the power. I have not a single doubt that Yahweh could take the Gospel to every nation without us and fulfill the beautiful picture of Revelation 7:9 where every tribe, nation, and tongue is before His throne. But that might be the utter beauty of this life and my purpose. 

I get to open up my mouth as He opens His lips to whisper His redemptive story over His beloved Child for the very. first. time. I’m not sure why anyone would want to miss out on that. 

It might mean not getting married, or not getting married to the person you always thought. Or not getting the job you have dreamed about since you were 6. Or seeming like the “rebel child” of the family. Or having to explain yourself over and over to your family and church, the people who should understand. But I know one thing for certain: It is worth it because He is worthy.

In Acts 1:8, He commanded all of His children to take the Gospel to every place. I see thousands upon thousands of Christians here and none in so many places. So I am going to try. I plan on being strategic and intentional with this life I have been undeservedly given. I am planning to get to a nation(s) that has never heard of the hope I possess. I am planning to apply to seminary, to get a masters degree, so that I can apply through the IMB, to do everything in my power to obey, knowing fully that if that is not His plan, He will surely disrupt my plans and stop me. And that’s where I’m only willing to stay.


I do not have some special call that God has given to His chosen few. There are already too few going as it is. 

Okay so I know that not every single believer is supposed to go and live in another country. But I do know more people should be going than who are, simply because of the statistics of thousands of people groups who are not only unreached, but unengaged.
 

Nobody is even trying to take the Gospel to them. 

So, to answer the questions of my family and friends and anyone who has been confused about my plans: I have no idea what I am doing or what my future holds.

I’m just going to follow Jesus with every day. That might mean spending my whole life in another country and dying there. It might mean never stepping foot on foreign soil again if that is His plan. Or it might mean years in the U.S., years in a dangerous country, back to the U.S. for months, following weeks with an unengaged people, to Mexico, to the Philippines, to Thailand, to China, to Iraq, to North Korea, to Antarctica, back to the U.S. 


I’m just going to try. 

Because just like you, I have been called.

-Ashley

Read more from Ashley's blog at  http://ashleynicoleyates.tumblr.com/post/101625595101/i-dont-know-if-im-called-to-missions-but-im-going