“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.”
– Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV)
Understanding your calling is a tricky thing. People can go through their whole lives and never really grasp what it is they were supposed to be doing. As adults, I think many of us have gotten good at faking it until we make it with the fear that we may never really “make it.” How do we define what our purpose is? How are we sure we are doing exactly what God has intended us to do?
I’ve faced this dilemma. There is so much to consider. Am I hearing God? Is this what I would rather do? Am I doing this because I think my wife, friends, church leaders, fellow church members would approve? All these questions swirled in my head when I felt led to serve as a missionary in Budapest two years ago; ESPECIALLY because I was considering serving as a missionary. I had bounced around from enlisting in the Air Force to working retail to being a realtor, but a missionary? That was a little out of bounds even for me.
There are a few people who know they are going to be a missionary from their youth, but for me “missionary” was a category I never saw myself in. I laugh to myself when I think about it now, but I thought—and get the impression that a lot of people feel the same—that a missionary is some super Christian right beneath a pastor or a minister. I can attest to this not being the case. I can’t remember who said it, but I once heard missionary defined as “ordinary people doing ordinary things for someone who can create extraordinary results.” Jonathan, the field director in Hungary, has said numerous times that the important thing is obedience and God takes care of the rest. Even Woody Allen said, “80 percent of life is showing up.”
That begs the question, where will each of us “show up”? In Matthew 28, Jesus says “Go” and “all nations.” The word “go” has the connotation of leaving where you are, however He doesn’t say “in nations where you are not from.” There is something to be said for those that are called to give their lives to work with people that are not of their culture, but where is it easier to reach people than where you currently live? Is it easier to show someone Jesus’ love a single time or over a long period of time?
Neither Rhoda nor I feel called for long-term ministry in Hungary and we just left the field last month after a year there, but that doesn’t mean that we weren’t supposed to be in Hungary for that year (we firmly believe we were) or at all (we plan on continuing to support Summer English Camp yearly). Life is full of seasons, and, while its impermanence can be scary for some, knowing we can count on change has a level of comfort.
God used us in Hungary. Rhoda’s gifting in administration helped her provide a streamlined process for liaising with foreign volunteers for English Camp and I was able to keep the translation of Banding Together in Hungarian on schedule just by following up with the different pieces of the process. We were both faithful in ordinary ways that allowed for ministry to thrive in our team’s setting throughout the year we were in Budapest.
All of us have a calling to ministry. It is a matter of understanding what it is and then being obedient to it. Each part of the body plays an important role. Paul deals with this topic extensively in the New Testament for a specific reason: the gifting God has given you doesn’t make you more or less loved because it has more perceived value. We are all important. We are all loved. And we love God back by faithfully doing His work. God created all of us to have interlocking purposes. Walk into your calling and embrace it. You will feel more alive than you ever have.
I write all this not to discourage those who are called to be missionaries but to make the point that we all should be participating in Kingdom work regardless of what our vocation is. We all relate to others differently and it is in those differences we can share the love of God with those around us. Where do you fit? Include this and other related questions in your quiet time with God. You may be surprised that He will reveal more than you thought. But don’t become fixated on the results you achieve. The work is our responsibility but the outcome is God’s.
-By Josh Woeckener, Former OMS Hungary Teammate