ml 01 calling

God’s Call

Opening thoughts by this website’s author: You will sense God’s call in a way individual to you. You do not need to copy someone else’s experience, and you do not need to be bound by someone else’s guidelines. Likewise, I hope you will not be critical of someone else’s sense of call, and if you are of age that you will not let someone else deny your sense of call, for “we must obey God rather than man.”

The word “vocation” is simply the Latin term for “calling.” In the Middle Ages it was common to reserve the term for entrance into the clergy. For Protestants since the reformation, following Luther’s lead, every station in life can be seen as a “call.” Paul tells us to “do all to the glory of God,” and in whatever call you find yourself in at the moment, you can glorify God by serving faithfully, and you can also find open doors for sharing the gospel.

I hope you can have faith that you are now where God wants you to be. I hope you believe that you are never without a call, for all we believers are under the call of the Great Commission, wherever we are.

You would probably not be reading this unless you were wondering whether God perhaps wants you to be in a different place in the future. In general, you might experience this as an “interior” or an “exterior” call.

There is no lack of testimonies of those who had an “internal” leading. The Bible has recorded the “internal” calls of Moses, Jonah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the apostle Paul. The author of this website is a good example of an “exterior” call. A group on Taiwan applied for a worker, that request came “through channels” and was presented as a request to the author. He realized he had no reason to say “no,” and accepted the call.

There are certainly valid reasons to say “no.” You may realize that you have responsibilities still unfilled to family or in your present location. I hope you are not drawn to change to a new call because of wanting to escape an undesirable condition. You would have more to offer on the mission field if you first learned to let God give you victory in your present situation. If you go overseas with these problems unresolved, they will accompany you, and you are just postponing the time when God will deal with you in the matters He is trying to teach you. Your first call is to be faithful where you are, and remember that “he who is faithful in small things will be given bigger things.”

I hope the quotes below from missionaries and textbooks will help you as you see the great variety of ways people have wondered about their “call.”

Interview with MD and SD, by LS
Sometimes the call to the mission field is unexpected. S had her first baby due and they were only 25 years old when they went. Their call came out of the blue. The call process of their time for the LCMS was different than what it is today. Pastors did not have much of a say into whether they would go onto the mission field or not, but at the seminary the professors would approach the students. Their call was to share their lives with people and to share Christ. That is what they did.

Interview with EB and PB:
If you feel the Lord wants you to be somewhere, then that is where you NEED to be. God’s call was not originally in the EB’s plan. He says that some think the only way to be a missionary is to be a church work major, but in reality, some of the most effective missionaries haven’t been any of the church work majors. This was his case. He felt that God’s call would come to an individual and that he did it on an individual basis, when God’s call is often done by his people.

You can be so convinced that God is calling you that you will not be a team player. You can also be so ready to do mission with a certain team that you go without God’s calling.

They mentioned to a pastor once that they were interested in mission work. They received their call, because this pastor found a call to Papua New Guinea three years later that he felt was for them. They felt that there is never an appropriate time to leave for the mission field. They would have to leave family in America. Their three kids (age 5, 10, and 15) and his job at the university made it not an appropriate time to leave for the mission field. You really have to be certain the Lord is directing you or people will discourage you. He felt that in most ministries the men feel more called than the women and that a good role for wives on the mission field hasn’t been found yet.

He said that you take the call first, even before things are in order. When you say yes you believe that God will solve everything. Otherwise there can be no end to excuses.

Professor F added in to this conversation by saying that worries don’t have anything to do with it, but that the question is, are you the right person. The other things. like being poor or finding education for your kids, aren’t part of the decision making process..

Interview with EB, missionary to Nigeria:
EB was told at seminary that they thought he would make a missionary, they thought he ought to go to Africa and they thought Nigeria, he was ready to sit down and talk about this and was asked, you mean you would take a mission call and EB said if it is God’s will and then he was told that was all that was needed to be known. Then he got call to go to Nigeria as missionary. In those days you got a call and you accepted it. For missionaries you were just asked if you wanted to go to the mission field.
In those days there was a deeper sense of call. Call to God and a call to do what he wanted you to do. Now it is thought as a profession. You choose this job and you want to do well in your profession rather to serve the Lord.
God revealed his will piece by piece and built into EB flexibility so that although he wouldn’t know what would happen many years into the future, but he would know the next step.

From a student: How do you know when God has called you? By researching this topic, I discovered that I have a huge misunderstanding of what being “called” is. Being called is not about having a vision or miraculous experience. All believers are called to serve the church the question is finding out the spiritual gifts God has given you and ways you can use them. In Scripture, all people are called to salvation, holiness, full time ministry, and specific assignments (what is God obviously laying out for you to do?). Recognizing a call is finding a mission that you want to do, understanding why you want to do it, and putting your faith and trust in God to guide you through it. SN

From interview with Dave and June D.  They found Interest in working in the mission field on a trip to South America. They joined the Lutheran Bible Translators and then were sent to Africa. Sometimes interruptions occurred and it seemed to be a struggle but it is all part of the job of a missionary.  God does call people to a work but is is not necessarily a life work From a young child J had desired to go into the mission field. Senior year heard about bible translations and was drawn to that field. Expectations continually change but there are reasons for what happens. God’s call gets you to the mission field but the devil wants to continue keep you down but what God has shown you in the light (getting you to the mission field) showed not be questioned in the dark (when depression comes)

Quotes from books:

Info from textbook Missions: Biblical Foundations & Contemporary Strategies by Gailyn Van Rheenen-
Making plans while praying and searching for God’s will is not a denial of divine sovereignty but an acceptance of the fact that God works through faithful servants. 141

From Stepping Out P.106 – Be a Barnabas: Just as first-century Barnabas played a role of tremendous significance in the life of the Early Church by encouraging Paul and John Mark, so you, too, can have an impact on the lives of countless missionary co-workers by your positive praise and consistent affirmation.

Stepping Out P.89 – Brokenness: For us, brokenness is humility’s response to the touch of God.  We break and say, “Lord, You’re right, I’m wrong. Your word is right; my idea is wrong.”

Stepping Out P.23 – Does it Work: God is behind a lot of efforts that, though they initially may not look all that strategic, are somehow part of God’s process.

Excerpts from interview with Tim and Kathy R: How did you know God wanted you to venture overseas?  When Tim was young he found Japanese culture to be interesting.  In college a man named Roger Buck talked to Tim making mention that he should consider teaching in Japan.  Well Tim did his Alaska internship and he remembered an article from the Report about going to Japan to teach English, which awoke in him the desire to pursue this opportunity.  Tim told his wife and asked her to commit.  Kathy remembers answering ok but was not for sure this was something they should do.  They went to prayer seeking out guidance.  Tim mentioned he had no feelings of road blocks that where keeping them from going – no children, they where young, and there was a sense of adventure.  Tim saw only positives so he applied and was accepted.  What resulted was teaching and witnessing, which where exciting.

Did you see a distinct call or plan before going, during your time in Japan, or after you came back to America?  Kathy’s reply – It was not until a year in that she felt yah this is where God wanted them to be.  Teaching was a new job and it was very difficult – but as a second term approached there was not any difficult in staying.  Tim’s reply – never before leaving did he think he was not suppose to be there.  Though during his time of teaching he questioned whether he was effective.  People didn’t seem to be coming to Christ.  Though after leaving there where people who came to Christ.   Throughout the time the full extent to reaching people for Christ wasn’t seen but in hindsight it becomes clear.  Some people are called to sow, fertilize, or harvest.  Paul the Apostle got experience in these different roles and Tim said it was helpful to recognize this giving him encouragement.  When looking at what Tim and Kathy did well, Tim saw he was good in the relational role and Kathy was gifted in learning the language which equipped them to different roles leading to the same plan of a relationship in Christ.  Tim also made mention that their life was very highly looked at “life in the glass house” truly just daily living is used in God’s plan.  Kathy made mention of a story that involved her coming of a bus with a smile on her face and a woman that she knew saw her. The woman was simply affected by that smile which led to the desire to check out why Kathy was happy.  There was no definite reason why Kathy was smiling but it was clear to the woman that there was a unique reason behind it – a relationship with the one, true God.  In being here in America the call to keep in touch with the people from Japan seems to be present.  Tim and Kathy send Birthday cards to friends.

Excerpts from interview with J C: How did you know God wanted you to venture overseas?  J’s  main goal in being a student was to be a parish worker and doing ministry here in the United States.  One day though a Professor dropped the idea to J of going overseas.  So J went home and asked his family what their thoughts were as well as prayed about the possibility.  During the call process J saw that nothing was really keeping him from going overseas so he made the decision to go and had his name given to the mission foundation offering to go wherever.  Befriended some West Africans and ended up in Liberia

Did you see a distinct call or plan God had shown you before going, during your time in Africa, or after you came back to America?   A big confirmation for J was in the fact that after coming to the decision to head onto the mission field things started to happen.  J saw how God brought people into his life West African people whom he would eventually be going to their homeland.  So in having this relationship established J learned a lot about the cultural make up as well as found a desire to reach these particular types of people.  J also saw how his personality allowed him to flourish in this particular culture.  The West African culture is a laid back society and one that is very open, which fits well with who Jack is in his personality.  J was given confirmation from the people that it was nice that he and his family where very open allowing for a more real relationship to occur between him and the natives.

From interview with EB: Many people feel that missionaries need to be either pastors, dco’s, doctors, or teachers but this is not true.They had been farming for ten years when they felt God calling them to be missionaries. He decided to return to school to gain a degree in agricultural education.

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