When I look back, flipping through the crusted coffee stained pages of my journal searching for the beginning of the story, I run across the trials and triumphs of my semi-unprofessional life and the unmistakable moments where the God of The Bible showed His face and responded to me in my time of need.
Being a missionary, we always think it’s a crazy good life in the spiritual realms where people revere you for your service to God and tell you how they have not the ability to live out such a life. We think we have high favor with God because we do the work no one else wants to do and go to the place where no one else desires to go. My worst nightmare, back in the day of course, was not being able to remain on the mission field and having to come back to the states. I had developed an unspoken disliking for the country I called home. Not because of the lack of freedom or the inability to pursue my happiness but more around the fact that God didn’t seem to be present.
Don’t get me wrong, there are pockets of Christianity booming all around the country but they never seemed to happen where I was living and that frustrated me. I came from a country where God and the Holy Spirit seemed to live down the road at every house on the corner but spiritually evicted from the country I called home and it made me sick. Growing spiritually and gaining the vision to see beyond this “lack there of,” my heart was softened and I began seeing the full potential of what a missionary life could be and I was nowhere near ready for what was to come.
I had created a standard for which I wanted everyone around me to conform to without seeing how far I had missed the mark. I was a bitter person, tired of trying to understand why those around me had not one desire to serve.
I came home on December 19th, 2013 after 1½ years of serving as a missionary in Nicaragua. God had brought many things to me that would train and equip me to be the man he had created all along.
December 30th, 2013
I’m flying to Indianapolis today. Why? I have no clue. It confuses me to think God would provide me with this blessing to see growth up close and personal. I know this will give me the skills needed to continue my ministry, in what ways I have no idea but I trust you God to lead me and guide me along this journey. Whatever You will, I’ll do.
When I came to Indianapolis, I knew it was because of Jesus. Everything He had done, He did to further His plan for my life, teaching me the skills I needed and lacked to better fulfill my calling. I had come to a point in my walk where I knew waiting was okay. It was completely fine to not have all the answers. That’s what they call “living by faith” I guess, and I learned that the hard way.
Mission Indy was a different kind of ministry. It came off to me as something that taught the gospel in a physical, hands on type of way that was more focused on teaching others than actually sharing with people up front like I was use to. This ministry seemed legit but I was still stuck in a 3rd world mindset and couldn’t break out of it to see ministry opportunities available in the 1st world. Mission Indy sought to empower those around it to better serve where they were. I was accustomed to being the one who did the serving rather than teaching other how so this can as a rather hard pill to swallow.
January 6th, 2014
Day 1. Today is the day I start my new “Job.” From what I’ve learned thus far, this is something that’ll complement me and give me new skills to carry forward with. I think I’ll be reading a lot, which is fine because I love to read. They’ve talked with me about helping me see better what it looks like to support raise as well as helping out with audio/visual. Two things I’m going to do a lot of in the future hopefully so this is good for me. As always, God you are in control and I trust you to be the light that guides me through the next 7 months.
I did a lot of reading in the first couple of months about different support raising techniques, past missionaries, global approaches to over seas missions as well as the startup problems of nonprofits. I learned about Mission Indy from both the people I worked with and the people they worked alongside. I was presented with many questions that helped me formulate an idea to what my future ministry would look like with my future wife that had broaden my view beyond the boundaries I had constructed.
I was learning the ropes of mission Indy and understanding the ways of working with people whom I had little to no experience with. With service projects on random Saturdays, weekend conferences for summer interns and spring break teams, I learned quickly what it was like to teach others to serve in an area I wasn’t familiar with as well and understand the community of which I was serving was the focus, not me!
That’s the thing that stuck out to me above everything else. Community. Community was and is a word I hear all the time now. Community to some is different than community to others as I found out. I was introduced to what community in a Christian environment looked and acted like when everyone served everyone. That was the core value of Mission Indy, “Equipping Christians to serve others,” and it has stuck with me since day one. As I grew and matured through my time working and serving with mission Indy, I’ve been given the opportunity to express my heart for missions overseas to groups of people experienced in those areas. As I changed through the responsibility instructed to me, my vision for Nicaragua and missions in general, shifted as well. It’s truly a blessing because I first left the states for Nicaragua 6 months after I graduated college and I did it in such a way to get there as quickly as I could. I never took the time to pour into my support raising techniques and Mission Indy gave me that opportunity to grow, and challenged me to approach missions from a different vantage point…with wisdom.
May 23rd, 2014
My birthday. The summer is about to begin and we’ve finished up our week of training and staying down at the mission house of Englewood. Jesus has brought all the interns here, which is apparent. I’ve prayed for a while now to express what I believe to each of them and become more like a brother that can challenge them in ways that will help them grow. Taking Mission Indy’s statement and actually apply it. They’ll look to me but to be Jesus to each of them in love as well as each team that I lead may help change their outlook on a life lived in Christ.
When the summer approached, I had a vision of what I was going to do throughout the different work weeks but as always, a need to improve showed its face and I had to become moldable. The mission field gave me some traits to use while I worked for Mission Indy as well as provide me with the insight into 3rd world missions to help inspire those here who were contemplating going on a trip abroad for the first time. Mission Indy has given me the tool needed to continue my pursuit of missions from a wise standpoint, laying out all my options and giving God the space to move. I read a book throughout my time here called, “Missions and Money.” As a missionary preparing to go back to the field, money always seems to show its ugly face when support raising is taking a heavy blow and you feel defeated on many levels do to the lack of interest from the supporter. This book put into perspective the idea of raising funds in a way that excites the people around you to begin supporting and informing them on the need of missionaries in a world slowly dying from consumption.
In short, I’ve learned a lot. Serving with Mission Indy has given me the much-needed view on life to see how a ministry functions from the inside out. I have a greater appreciation for the small things that come into play when planning for a weeklong workweek with three different teams from around the state and having it all compacted into an urban setting. Things like being on time and doing something if you say you’re going to do it. Practical things one would not assume they would need to know, but finds themselves back at the drawing board yet again asking for help on solving a problem you thought you knew how to fix. Things like, measure twice, cut once, double check the tools you have and the tools you need, start the saw blade before you start cutting to keep it from coming back on you, keep a record of everything, always double check, put up reminders if you struggle with memory, if you don’t know, ask someone who does, you’ll never be reprimanded when asking for help, know you’re not in charge, you’re the servant, it’s about God, knowing you can always make a different through love, sharing knowledge to help others grow instead of doing everything yourself, take leadership with patience, know that every second of planning goes a long way.
I’ve learned to put my faith in my Father to really guide and lead me in His ways to better impact the world around me. It doesn’t take a pulpit or being the one in the spotlight. I remember back when I first began talking with Mission Indy about coming to work with them. One thing they made very apparent to me was that I would not be in the spotlight. I had grown use to the fact that I was the one people saw when I was on the mission field. I talked about Jesus and represented Him but I wanted the glory for myself. Mission Indy, either knowing or not knowing, pushed me in a manner to live more away from the light I desired to stand in and taught me to reflect that light back towards God. It’s a way of looking at you as less and seeing the opportunity to give God more. I know this is something I can and will take with me as I leave Mission Indy to continue the journey God has called me to. It’s not about me; it’s about Christ in me the Hope of glory.
As I continue this journey into life, I will look back at the things Mission Indy has taught me and will cherish the opportunity I had to work with them. It was God breathed and God led and for that I will forever be thankful.