When people ask me about my call to the mission field, I often tell them how I was watching TV one night while eating ice cream with bananas and caramel topping as my submissive wife was giving me a neck massage. All of a sudden, the drapes blew wildly, the lights flickered, and the TV went off. I then dropped my ice cream and I heard a voice saying, “Go to Papua New Guinea.”
That usually gets their attention and that’s what some may be waiting to hear but that’s not what happened. In my case, the LORD used a number of things to reveal His “call.” When I was saved in 1974, I had read how Jesus had sent His disciples out instructing them to trust the LORD to provide for their needs. So the seed was planted for going by faith.
Because of attending a Church that was very missions-minded, we often heard missionaries speak. I started reading missionary books like Peace Child and Cannibal Valley. I was working construction and thought I could go on a short-term mission trip and help build a missionary house but was told that wasn’t done anymore. I still had a desire to be used of the LORD. Friends of mine had met a couple who had just finished training with New Tribes Mission and passed on some literature they had. I thought it looked pretty old and outdated so I put it away in a drawer.
The song writer Keith Green was around then writing convicting songs with lyrics like, “Make my life a prayer to You, I want to do what You want me to, no empty words and no white lies, no token prayers no compromise….” Another talked about, “To obey is better than sacrifice, I want more than Sundays and Wednesday nights…”.
Keith Green also put out a publication called the “The Last Days Newsletter.” In one issue he had a quote by A. W. Tozer regarding Matthew 24:16 were Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.” Tozer explained that deny himself meant to not do what you want to do. He said that take up your cross was to do what you don’t want to do. This is what Jesus did for us. He left heaven and became a man. He prayed in the garden, “Remove this cup from me,” because he didn’t want to go to the cross but He finalized His thoughts when he said, “Not my will but Thine will be done.”
The LORD was using all these things to get my attention and one day a Jehovah witness man came to my door. I sent him on his way and a couple weeks later as I was witnessing in a park, I saw this same Jehovah witness man. Although he didn’t get saved and I didn’t buy the Watchtower, that experience opened my eyes. There are many churches and many avenues whereby a person who was seeking could find the LORD. This was in direct contrast to the tribal people I had been hearing and reading about whom unless someone hiked into their village, had no way of hearing the gospel. (Romans 10:14)
Somewhere during that time, I pulled out that literature from New Tribes Mission that was hiding in the drawer and to my astonishment, they were talking about going by faith and reaching tribal people who had never heard of Jesus Christ. After one more missions conference, I was convinced that heading for the field is what I needed to do. That evening, I asked my newly wedded wife what she thought about going to Africa. And that is a whole other story.
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