It’s time to let the cat out of the bag. It hasn’t been a secret, but I also haven’t been openly sharing with everyone - especially with people outside this tiny peninsula of mine. Friends, I made the decision almost a year ago to leave the teaching field - possibly for good.
May 30th will be my last official day with students. June 8 will be my last official day as a teacher. I am planning on making the rocky transition into the missional/humanitarian field, working with refugees in Europe. I say rocky because the path is entirely uncertain. This is my “plan” - but we all know what God does with our plans. I only hope I am not too blind to see how He directs my next steps. To say that I feel ‘called’ is an understatement. The idea has slowly rooted itself into my soul and lay dormant for years while living in Asia, before igniting into a fire that cannot be ignored or snuffed out. I had often kidded that I would love to go into the humanitarian sector full time if only I had a husband who could support me financially in the process (we all know humanitarianism is not a cash cow).
Well, God did not provide me with a husband. He did, however, provide me with a purpose. A purpose that quickens my heart, keeps me up at night with anticipation and longing, and makes my current ‘purpose’ pale in comparison. Two years ago I prayed in earnest that God allow me to be His hands and feet. It has been the prayer of my heart while living in Korea. I was scared of such a prayer in Thailand for the petty reason that He would take me seriously when I wasn’t sure how He’d use me. This only highlights my insecurities when I’m not in control. Those inhibitions have long since fallen away. The excuses I made for why I wasn’t ready to be His hands and feet seem ridiculous in light of who my God is. If He is almighty, He will take care of me. He is a father that will not give stones when his child asks for bread.
And so the true adventure of trust began when I released all hold on my future. I made the decision to leave teaching in August, 2017 with no plans of coming back. I purposely did not look for teaching positions abroad or in the States when October/November rolled around. I did not try to renew my contract at my current school. I did begin a fevered search for NGOs working specifically with refugees. I researched Christian organizations associated with refugees. I filled out an application to join UNHCR, despite being totally unqualified. Needless to say, I never heard back from them. And I reluctantly began exploring the possibility of becoming a missionary.
I’ve shied away from that term my whole life. I always thought missionaries were trained as missionaries. They attended seminary school, they had a deep theological background, and they were the equivalent of homeschool kids - just as adults. Images of remote villages without running water, and the sound of languages I would never truly understand caused me both panic and despair at my own feeble limitations. I consider myself an outdoors person, but I can only handle ‘roughing it’ for about a week. It is not a lifestyle choice I would willingly choose to make. But that’s not the life of a missionary, is it? Missionaries exist in urban settings just as much as rural ones; first-world nations, as well as developing ones. Missionaries are both introverts and extroverts. Some have the ability to learn languages easily, others struggle for years just to have conversational capabilities. Some work within a team, while others are called to minister alone.
Over the summer I had a list of questions God had asked me repeatedly that I always responded with a resounding NO. But by the end of the summer, I ran out of excuses. God reassured me on every point that those don’t matter if He is looking out for me.
- Am I okay with leaving the teaching field?
- Am I okay with not making stable money?
- Am I okay with not planning my future 8 months in advance?
- Am I okay with going back to Oregon while I figure out the transition into humanitarian work?
- Am I okay with an unpredictable future?
For someone who craves control, God was ultimately asking if I was willing to allow Him total control of my life. I ran out of excuses. I ran out of a life plan. The only place to look was Christ and His wondrous plan. He was still waiting for me. Waiting to begin His work in my life. Waiting to launch me on the ultimate adventure of faith. And I finally said yes.
So Oregon it is for the next six months (hopefully) as I do the one thing that missionaries have in common: raise financial support. I’m partnering with a mission sending agency and beginning a one year mission with them as I sort out what it means to be the hands and feet of God. How long will this venture last? I have no idea. But I know He has something incredible in store for me. Eight days in Lesvos was enough for Him to break through my excuses to ultimate surrender. It wasn’t torturous. It was a relief to finally say yes. Because it means I don’t have to control every step of my life anymore. As independent as I am, I get tired making life decisions, I truly do. Now He can make them for me, and I know there won’t be any wrong decisions this time.
|Skala Sikaminas harbor, Lesvos, Greece|
I realize I never got to the moment that God turned my heart around - it was on a rocky beach in Lesvos - but I will share some of my experiences in my next post. This is a huge step into the unknown for me. I am excited, cautious, and yet filled with peace. As though this was God’s plan all along, and I am just now realizing where I need to be. These next several months of limbo may actually be the hardest part of transition; what with reverse culture shock, moving back into my childhood home, and figuring out support-raising. For now, I ask for prayer. That is what will get me through everything.