Adults on Mission

Storytime: Tell Your Story

Almost everyone loves to eavesdrop on the characters of Lady Mary in Downton Abbey and Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind. The drama, the characters, the intrigue, the costumes . . . the story! So what’s your story?

Everyone has one. You may think your story is boring or embarrassing but definitely not epic. However, your life’s journey may be the catalyst to encourage someone to find God’s purpose and plan for his or her life.

As a theatre major in college, I had to play many characters on stage. More than memorizing lines, I used a character analysis sheet with questions like the ones below to delve into the character to find out what made her who she was. Not every question could be answered, but with close study of the script, I could find many inferences and facts that would help me understand what made this character “tick.”

Proving My Faith Genuine

Fear consumed me.

I spoke to my dad on the phone, sharing with him that I’d be enduring surgery early the next morning—exploratory surgery to discover the cause of my infertility. His humor sliced through my fear. “Put on your bravery button,” he said.

Bravery? I felt everything but brave.

After hanging up the phone, I buckled over, crying, my hands covering my face. Only in my mid-20s, I’d never faced surgery. Would I survive this? Would I wake up? I trembled.

I’d grown up in church and accepted Christ at an early age, but suddenly a question loomed over me—“Do you really believe?” I’d never had my faith put to the test. Life had been so easy. But I had to answer that question, for myself.

The lyrics of every song I had learned in that precious hymnal flooded my mind and soul:

  • “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!”
  • “Leaning, leaning, Leaning on the everlasting arms.”

Yes, Lord, I believe.

The Campus Calls

Growing up as a pastor’s daughter, Sarah Martinez had a close-up view of what full-time ministry looks like. Yet she never thought that would be her calling until Christian Challenge recruited her to work at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona, as a collegiate missionary.

At first, Martinez felt unworthy and ill equipped for the task God was calling her to do. However, she soon learned the wisdom of Hebrews 13:20–21 (NIV): “Now may the God of peace . . . equip you with everything good for doing his will.”

The mission and vision of Christian Challenge is to evangelize, disciple, and develop leaders. It shares the gospel and walks with students, equipping them to lead ministry and plug into local churches to utilize the talents and gifts God has given them. Martinez had no training in these areas, but God knew exactly what she needed. The hardest part came when she learned she would have to raise her own support. Her family and friends did not support her quitting her job to go into full-time ministry.

Mie’s Hope for Japan

Mie was born and grew up in Osaka, Japan; attended the University of Findlay in Ohio; and then returned home. She got a full-time job that moved her to Kobe, where she met Mark Busby, an International Mission Board (IMB) missionary. They married in 2001 and in 2003, she became the first Japanese citizen to be appointed to Japan by the IMB.

One way Mie helps Mark lead the IMB team in Tokyo is by helping the other missionaries understand the life and culture of the Japanese people. Since Mie is Japanese, it’s natural for her to talk with the Japanese women and that’s where her ministry focuses. For the past 10 years, God has used her to minister to women who have children the age of her 2 children—John and Michelle. The work moves slowly; only recently did one of the women ask Mie to pray to Jesus for her family. Once when she tried to talk to a close friend about Jesus, she cut Mie out of her life and never spoke to her again.

Making Bible Stories Come Alive

The girls and I walked into the small, empty chapel. “Let’s sit up front,” I said. I led the way, and we took our seats. I smiled, taking in my surroundings—my teenage daughters were with me at a women’s retreat. I’d just signed them up, without their permission, and they hadn’t given me any flack over it.

Through the stories of David and Goliath and the prodigal son, the speaker shared about leaving an abusive relationship and going home. Her parents had moved to Texas, and she didn’t even know their city or address. After driving through several states and passing the Texas border, she stopped and made a phone call.

Missionary Spotlight Update: Hernando Cardenas

Church planter Hernando Cardenas might say while everything changes, in many ways, everything stays the same. Families come to Chandler, Arizona; some are brought into Cardenas’s church; but after a short time, several families leave the area. Although Cardenas is reluctant to see these families leave, he knows this is one way believers take the gospel to other areas. In the meantime, new families join the local Hispanic community and the challenge is renewed.

Cardenas continues his ministry of friendship by helping local Hispanics find jobs and housing. By offering them help with basic needs, he and others show the love of Jesus in the most practical ways.

“We are adjusting to these changes and changing our mentality to see that the church in Chandler is a missionary hub for the Hispanic world. As for me and my family and the leaders I am training, we live to spread the good news of salvation.”

Cardenas continues to have chronic health problems. Pray he is able to continue his vital work among Hispanics in Chandler and Casa Grande. Ask God to encourage him and other believers as they provide a vital ministry to this transient population.

Meeting Challenges and Opportunities in Ukraine

Linda Gray faces daily challenges as she serves as a single missionary in Kharkov, Ukraine. Whether dealing with vehicle maintenance problems, overcoming preconceived notions about Baptists as a cult, or working with leadership in the churches, Gray knows where to seek help, where to give a strong witness, and where to cooperate for the proclaiming of the gospel message.

Almost 98% of Ukrainians would identify themselves as Christian because they were baptized into the Orthodox church as infants. But only a small percentage of Ukrainians are born-again followers of Jesus. Though Gray has been a missionary for 18 years, she has spent 13 years in Kharkov. In previous years, she worked with church women’s groups, small-group Bible studies, and English as a second language, but now much of her focus is helping to minister to more than 200,000 Ukrainians in her region who have been displaced by war.

The Mission of Listening

Many times I find myself completing my 84 year old Mother’s sentences. Now she is more than capable of being able to speak the words and finish her sentences. But in my rush to move on in the conversation I complete her sentences or interrupt with the answer. It’s become a habit birthed out of my busyness. Justified? No! Rude? Yes! Additionally Scripture warns not to give an answer before one hears (Proverbs 18:13).

Mission opportunities occur everywhere. Around the globe and in my Mother’s home. What is God saying to my missions heart lately? Simply this: It’s time to develop the Ministry of Listening. The ministry of listening reflects patience, love, understanding, my relationship with Christ and the ability to truly hear. In this season of care giving I have the opportunity to share the love of Christ through listening.

No matter the age there is always a new mission which God is calling me to or making me aware of. You are never too old or too young to develop the Ministry of Listening. What about you?

Thank you for Listening!

I am a Vietnam War veteran, U. S. Women’s Army Corps, stationed in Augsburg, Germany during my tenure. Over the years I have met veterans who were dealing with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). However, PTSD is not confined to those coming home from military service. It affects people from all walks of life who are dealing with traumatic situations. The good news is we’ve come a long way in being able to recognize this disorder and offer support. You and I may not be trained counselors, but we do have the same credentials—ears to listen.

Listen with your body language. Sometimes it is not about the talk, simply be willing to be there. Listen with your facial expressions. This means good eye contact, a smile, not sighing or rolling your eyes when the individual is sharing the same scenario or event repeatedly. Listen with your heart. Be patient, don’t push them to talk, be respectful and non-judgmental. Listen without expectations and remember you are not there to tell them what do or how to move on.

“Thank you for listening to my story,” may be the compliment which opens the door for you to share His story.

 

Listening: A Relationship Builder

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” It is an old quote and it holds the key to building deep and lasting relationships. One of the ways we genuinely show we care is by listening.

Offering Biblical hospitality in my home and office has generated spontaneous moments to listen and to show I care. Over a cup of hot tea served with scones or coffee served with muffins, what has started out as a generalized conversation turns into my guest sharing their most deepest needs. Once a person knows you can be trusted and that you truly care; pretenses crumble and the foundation is laid for an authentic relationship.

Everyone needs someone to simply listen. It isn’t that you hold the answers or can solve the problems, but there is something therapeutic about being able to voice our ‘whatever’ to someone who will accept us as we are with a listening ear and heart. Who in your life that needs Biblical hospitality and a listening ear is God placing on your heart?

 

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