We would like to share with you how we got called to go into the mission field, and basic information about what we’ll be doing in Chad once we go out.
Sarah and I (David) had been dating through our last year of college at Andrews University. I was in the aviation program, having already finished my requirements for a French Studies degree, and Sarah was finishing up her Dietetics degree and preparing for her upcoming internship. I was at a crossroads in life. I knew that God had put the desire to be a professional pilot in my heart, I had known that ever since I was a little squirt.
As I was looking at the jobs that pilots do, however, I grew less and less interested. Commercial pilots can be gone 3-5 days at a time, and it’s a long and hard road to seniority where you get preferred scheduling. Corporate pilots may not always be gone as long, but schedules are much less predictable. I am too much of a family man to want an inconsistent job like that, especially when the pay isn’t too terribly great. I was distressed and didn’t know what good my aviation degree was going to be, so I started to flirt with the idea of going into Aviation business administration.
One day in January or February, there was a guest speaker in one of my classes: David Gates. I knew him as the man responsible for lovingly stealing away at least two of my instructors from me as I was working on my early ratings. An American raised in Bolivia, he had started a mission organization called Gospel Ministries International with operations based in Guyana. That day, he shared with us stories about what the organization was doing, and some incredible stories of miracles that God had wrought for the workers. As he spoke, God whispered to me to stay around and talk to him afterwards.
Now, I had never really been interested in mission service. DJ and Jodi Knott, my first instructor, and his wife, had both suggested that I should go into the mission field, but I had never felt called. As I told people, “I feel that mission work is a solemn duty, like pastoring. I am not opposed to being a missionary, but I know I will only be effective if God calls me to do it.” Up until God whispered in that meeting, I had not really felt a call, just gentle murmurs once in a while. But this was a very clear, strong whisper.
So I stayed. Once I got a chance to talk with “Uncle David”, I told him that I was fluent in French, and curious if there was anywhere where that would be of use. “Yes, we have a group in Africa where your French would be put to good use. Here, email Gary Roberts at this email address, and just give him some time to respond. You might have to send two or three emails before he gets back to you, but be persistent and he’ll get you set up.”
I stopped by Sarah’s apartment on the way back to campus. “I think I’m going to be a missionary in Africa,” I told her. “God called me today.” Her eyes lit up. “Really!? That would be so cool!” Unbeknownst to me at that time, she had always wanted to go do mission work in Africa. She fell in love with it when she went to Rwanda for 3 weeks on a short-term mission trip a couple years before this. With her encouragement and support, I went back to my room.
“Okay, God, you’ve shown that this is intriguing at least. But if this is really, truly something You want us to do, please let Gary respond to the first email I send him. Make Your call clear to us,” I prayed. Then I sent a brief email about myself, and that my soon-to-be fiancé was going to be a dietitian, and if I came to work in Africa, would there be work for her? Expecting an email in 2-3 weeks, I went to class.
The very next morning I checked my email, and there was a response from Gary. “Wow, so soon!” I wondered. In it, Gary mentioned that the timing of my message was perfect, as he had just gotten internet service. He said they were more than willing to take me on board, and they had just built a nutrition center and were looking for a dietitian to help staff it! Clearly, this was God-arranged in every way. We responded with a firm desire to join them, so they began to expect us. They warned us, however, that many who were interested ended up backing out because they were concerned about paying off student loans before they went into the mission field, then these people get established and end up never going out.
I had seen this before. One of my other instructors and his wife were very interested in the mission field. His wife had already spent a year in Africa, and they were planning on going, but they wanted to take care of loans first. By now, however, I don’t know their hearts, but it seems to me like they’ll never end up going, or if they’re even still on fire for God. It’s really sad to see. With that warning in our hearts, we rejoiced in our calling, and in God’s marvelous working in our lives.
Since that time, we’ve kept in contact with Gary and Wendy to make sure they know we’re still planning on coming. We ourselves have been tempted to worry about loans, and being diligent to pay them off, but God will be faithful. If an earthly company will pay for their employees’ schooling, how much more will our loving Heavenly Father provide for us while we serve Him in Africa! We are being sent out like the disciples, being commanded “to take nothing for the journey except a staff–no bag, no bread, no copper in [our] money belts.” He will supply all our needs. We will have no commitment to others, so as to not restrict our energies or resources to the work they would have us do, but will work in whatever capacity the Spirit of God gives us to work.
As we prepare, please pray for us, that we will be enabled to preach His good news to the whole world, and to work for the comfort of those who are forgotten. There is so much spiritual growth we still seek. Also, prayerfully consider ways of joining in our ministry, whether it be by volunteering to join us in our work in Chad, or being part of God’s heavenly storehouse to provide for us by donating for our needs (God will provide for us either way, we simply wish to invite you to partake in the joy of giving to His work). If nothing else, please contact us so we can share specific areas where you can concentrate your prayers for us.
We look forward to the work that we will be doing, but there is still a lot of preparation that needs to be done. God bless us all as we share in the sacred work He has given us, His followers, to do!