Something I wrote a couple years ago about my calling to missions:
At the end of my junior year of college I felt the Lord calling me into missions. I spent a summer in Bangkok, then led an international Bible study at my college during my senior year.
During my senior year of college I was considering going into seminary or going abroad doing missions. A mentor-type at the time suggested that I get ‘life’ experience before I go into seminary. That was great advice, & I’m thankful that I took it. So I looked for opportunities to do missions. I was introduced to a missions’ organization out of a church in Maryland that set me up with a teaching job in Emperor City, China, in eastern China. So in August 2005 I moved to China.
Growing up I had the blessing of being in a family that was pretty globally minded. In high school I took a trip to Israel and another trip to Europe. My sophomore year in college I studied abroad in England for a year.
So when I became a believer in college, it was almost natural for me that I’d have a pull towards missions, because I’d had so much international experience before that. I actually enjoyed living in other countries.
I had an engineering internship set up in Philadelphia for the ’04 summer, but during the middle of that year, my junior year of college, the Lord changed that plan. I was discussing with a friend about predestination and free will. I was supporting predestination and my friend was supporting free will. Unfortunately, I couldn’t think of any related verses off the top of my head to defend my side. So the next day I stayed home all day and looked up all the verses in the Bible that supported predestination and all that supported free will. Definitely it seemed to point towards predestination but I was still a little confused on the topic.
At the time I said, “I’m still not sure on what the Scripture says on this, but I must conclude that either way we are called to reach the nations with the gospel.” So I felt like the Lord was calling me to spend the summer doing missions. I looked on Google to find missions opportunities in Southeast Asia. I found a random link on a website and eventually got in touch with a missionary-run English school in Bangkok. So I told the engineering firm in Philadelphia that I wasn’t going to be able to intern there in the summer. I instead was going to go serve the Lord in Bangkok for three months.
That was my first missions’ experience. After that during my senior year of college I started an international Bible study at my college. It was a good time doing outreach, but I didn’t see any fruit from it. I started thinking about doing missions work long-term upon my graduation. The Lord moved my heart on Christmas Day of ’04 as I completed reading Jim Elliot’s journals called Shadow of the Almighty. Through Elliot’s journals the Lord convicted me of the need for workers and the Lord confirmed me going overseas as an ambassador of Christ. So I decided to go through a missions’ agency out of a church in Maryland that would put me in a job teaching English in Emperor City, China.
So that was what I did and I moved to Emperor City, China in August ’05. I previously never had any specific burden for China, but once I stepped foot off the plane in North Capitol, I felt like the Lord was telling me that I was going to be there for a while. The Lord almost immediately gave me a huge heart for the people, the history, the culture, the food, and the language. I didn’t know exactly how long I’d live in China but after a week of being there I wrote in my journal, “I’m going to dread when I have to leave this place permanently.”
I stayed in Emperor City for three years. For those years I was the leader of our team, leading teams of 3, 17, and 25 people, respectively.
I can see how the Lord used even the decisions of the godless Communist party and the university president for his good, that I’d be kicked out of that school and have to move to another school. During the year in the second school in Emperor City I started to think about moving west.
One early morning in February 2008 the Lord woke me up at 2 am and sent me into prayer for several hours. I was walking around beating my drum and crying out to the Lord like Samuel in 1 Samuel 3. Finally, that morning the Lord confirmed to me that he wanted me to move west. So I told the people in western China that I’d been talking to that I was going to move there in the fall. I told my boss in Emperor City that I was going to leave Emperor City and head west. Around that time I was greatly encouraged reading the autobiography of John G. Paton. He had a successful ministry in Glasgow (like I thought I felt like I had in Emperor City), but he felt like the Lord was calling him to go to the New Hebrides islands to minister to the cannibals living there, and he ended up seeing much greater fruit there than he could’ve imagined. The Lord was calling me to do the same by going west. My heart grieved to leave my friends in Emperor City, but I was excited to see what the Lord had in store for me.
During our time in Baoji, the Lord also put on our hearts to go further west. So we took several trips to provinces further west in China. We saw a great need for the gospel in those places, as the region was spiritually dark with many Muslim and Buddhist strongholds. So we started our own missions agency that focuses specifically on sending workers to cities in NW China.
This is the calling the Lord put on my life a few years ago: “God gave me grace to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the [Chinese], with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the [Chinese] might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:16). My wife & I both hope that the Lord will grant us many more decades to invest in the Chinese for the sake of their sanctification. When I first arrived in China, I didn’t have such a clear call from the Lord, other than just to be there. Now I’ve served in China for nearly ten years. The Lord has really granted me clarity over time on what my purpose shall be for his name.
My wife & I know we’ll be doing long-term overseas missions work for the rest of our lives, Lord willing. We are very excited to raise a family overseas. We are committed to bringing more American workers to NW China. We also have a huge heart for mobilizing Chinese believers to go further west into the nearby Muslim nations (Central Asia, Middle East, N. Africa, etc.) in the 10/40 window. So long-term any way that we can help out with that, we will do it. This is a way for the Chinese church to be sanctified, that they would be effective ambassadors of the gospel to the Muslim nations.