Almost a year back from the Land of the Rising Sun and I am back into my “waiting” mode. After graduating in 2007, I sat in waiting for God to show me something incredible. Teaching 3rd-4th graders at church on Sunday mornings, and working full-time at a small, local bank…I loved the church part, but the bank, meh. I was sitting in limbo which is something I’ve talked about before with you all. It was aggravating for me to sit and wait for God to say yes when everything I offered Him was a decided “No.” Everything I thought I could pursue was shot down, and though I tried very hard to graciously submit to His will, my heart was growing tired and a little bitter.
In February 2008, I was told of a need for a teacher in Japan. I didn’t know anything about Japan, but I cautiously asked God if this was for me. He said yes in an overwhelming way and a month later, I was in Japan to stay for a year.
But this story has been told as well.
Half-way through my time there, I was confronted with a hypocrisy that I never knew existed in my heart. As one called to mission work, I threw down everything at home to run half-way around the globe to tell others about Jesus. I immersed myself into the culture there and became familiar with the many nooks and crannies of my new neighborhood. But all this is temporary. I had a deadline for my time there: one year. That was it. I made the most of my time, yes, but I realized that I never put that much effort into the homeland where I have lived for 20+ years. We barely knew any of the people on our street, where we’ve lived for only 3 years, but still…not acceptable.
This soon changed. Coming home last April (09), my mom and I began to actively pursue our neighbors. We held a couple parties here for different groups of the neighbors, and have begin building relationships with them. It’s been wonderful and we have been blessed by our new-found boldness. Coupled with an intensive neighborhood ministry started at our church, passion for the lost next door has become an over-riding drive in my thoughts and actions as well as many other members of the church.
We have been endeavoring to start a community outreach center called, The ROCK (Reaching Out for Christ’s Kingdom). We are slowly raising funds for a new building to house this multifaceted ministry, but we haven’t felt satisfied with just waiting for the building. Our pastor began to feel that if we didn’t prove to God that our hearts are ministry-minded, why should He give us a building for that purpose? So, we are striving to begin the ministries we’d like to be housed by The ROCK within the church buildings we have so far. It has become a huge blessing for us and exciting as we see things taking off.
One thing that I have been praying about for years is to start an ESL ministry. I came home from another country several years ago ready to run with it, but God stopped me. I began to realize that I didn’t have the experience to start/lead something like this. However, Japan was just what I needed! I sat in a thriving ESL ministry for a year and was able to learn all the ins and outs of management, teamwork, bookkeeping, organization, etc. It was wonderful. We collected ideas for ministries that The ROCK could start and ESL was among them. I was given the go-ahead to start rolling. AND God didn’t stop me!
And then, I became discouraged. It happens. When something good is about to begin, Satan steps in and begins whispering thoughts of doubt to you. It’s hard not to listen, and I did start listening. I had a meeting scheduled after church one morning for anyone interested. No one showed. The people I had spoken with before said that they were now too busy. Fear, or an idea of not being qualified to work, I can handle something like that, but I can’t make more time for others to do ministry. I was bummed.
I decided just to push on through. If I have to be the only teacher, I will! And to start off with, it’s not a big deal if there’s only one teacher. The point is to start the ministry and see where it goes! So, I just set it in my heart that no matter what, I would pursue what I believe God has called for me to do.
And He answered. I got a phone call from a Chinese woman that I had given my card to several months ago. She wants me to tutor her son twice a week, but also, a young woman in her restaurant wants to learn more English! Another person in church came up to me and expressed an interest in learning what she needs to teach English. People are getting excited about it. They are telling me where they have seen a lot of immigrants in our area. It’s amazing. You know, we live in a small farming town. There are a good amount of people here, but you can drive from one end of Fairfield to the other in 20 minutes, if traffic’s good and you get all the green lights. God has brought the nations to this small town though. There’s an incredible international marketplace in the city, Jungle Jims, which brings a lot of internationals into Fairfield (if they haven’t actually settled here). There are a lot of immigrants from Fujian, China. The Hispanic population is always on the rise, and we’ve been seeing a lot more immigrants from West Africa coming through.
God has put us in a strategic place and I am excited about what this can mean for His kingdom. I promise to post more updates on this ministry and about my efforts to be a missionary “at home.” I hope you enjoy it!