Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My call

In June 2004, after my first mission trip, I was called to serve our Lord overseas. I spent almost two weeks in Jamaica with a group of students from First Southern Baptist Church in Bryant, ministering to physical and spiritual needs. God changed my heart in Jamaica and I knew He had big plans for me to leave the comforts of America and go out to make disciples of all nations. I love sharing the testimony of God calling me to be a missionary and the best way I can do this is chronologically.

- June 2004 – KEITH, JAMAICA. Mission trip with FSBC students where we prayer walked, assisted in building construction, held worship services in the streets, personal evangelism and more. After returning to Arkansas I knew God was calling me to missions but I had no idea where to start. I began praying through this call and felt God was leading me to return to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to complete my bachelors degree.

- January 2005 – reenrolled at UALR and began the first of five semesters to finish my degree. I prayed the Lord would provide the means for me to go without having to increase my student loan debt. He was faithful and provided a scholarship from my church.

- June 2005 – TECPAN, GUATEMALA. Served with a prayer walking team from FSBC in the mountains of Guatemala with Peter & Theresa Cunningham, ISC missionaries with the International Mission Board. The Lord taught me about pride during this trip.

- July 2006 – BANGKOK, THAILAND. Served with a university ministry team from The Summit Church at San Dusit Rajahbaht University in Bangkok. We built relationships with students and helped them with English. The Lord reminded me of how lost the world is and the darkness that covers so many peoples and need to hear the fundamental truths of Christianity – the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

- March 2007 – LAS VEGAS, NEVADA. Served with a student ministry team from Summit in North Las Vegas to assist Grace Point Community Church in distributing promotional material for their Easter Service. The Lord reminded me of how lost Americans are and that I can be content if He leads me to serve in the US in the future.

- May 2007 – Graduated from UALR with a BA in Journalism.

- August 2007 – WINDHOEK, NAMIBIA – Served with a team from Summit where we did children’s ministry in the townships on the outskirts of Windhoek (VIND-hook).

Upon returning to the states from Windhoek, I could not get Africa out of my thoughts or heart. I would wake up in the night thinking I was still there. One night I had a vivid dream of running through a building where a chaotic scene was unfolding. There was fire and people screaming and I was at a near panic knowing there were children who needed rescuing. I ran into room after room, scooping up kids and rushing them to safety.

One night not long after the dream and many sleepless nights, I decided to look at the IMB’s website to see what opportunities there were. I found a job in Zimbabwe that caught my attention but that was the extent of it at that moment. I went to sleep but soon found myself wide awake. The Lord brought to mind a recent message by my pastor, Bill Elliff, from Proverbs. Bill said the Holy Spirit would often wake him during the night and lead him to the Word where he would always find “nuggets of truth.” The last thing I wanted to do was be even more awake and read my Bible, I just wanted to go back to sleep. Sleep was not coming.

I opened my Bible to Proverbs and began reading. Chapter one…chapter two…chapter three…and the Lord stopped me as I moved on to chapter four. He guided me back to chapter three, specifically to verses 21 – 27:

“My son, preserve sound judgement and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble; when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared. Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.”

I read this passage several times until the Holy Spirit made clear to me what was happening. I reflected on how God called me to missions in 2004 and the first step in the process was the finish college. I finished college four months earlier, went to Africa and now He was telling me it was time. Sleep came and it was sweet, just as He promised me in His word.

The next morning I started the application process with the IMB. A lengthy ordeal, I finished the application in January 2008.

- April 2008 – I attended the ISC/Journeyman matching conference at the International Learning Center in Rockville, Virginia.

- June 2008 – WINDHOEK, NAMIBIA. Led a team from Summit back to Windhoek to do children’s ministry and traveled through Johannesburg where I met my future supervisor, Wade Coker.

- August 2008 – moved to Rockville, VA, for two months of Field Personnel Orientation at ILC.

- October 16, 2008 – left the US to begin my first missionary term serving in Johannesburg, South Africa.