Over the next several months of TEAM Ministry Updates, we’ll be sharing stories that highlight each of TEAM’s defining values. Today we’d like to introduce you to the Gooding family. Their journey toward overseas ministry in Japan is marked by the value of “God Dependence.” Here is their story.
Meet the Goodings
In missions organizations like TEAM, it’s quite common for global workers to transition from a ministry post overseas to a position with the organization’s home office. It’s not as common for the opposite to be true. But our God has a wonderful way of revealing His plan in “uncommon” ways, doesn’t He?
For Doug and Becca Gooding, the road less traveled is the one laid out before them. After serving in TEAM’s Finance department in Carol Stream, Illinois for over 7 years, Doug and his family are now headed to Japan as global workers. We sat down with Doug to hear more about how God has called the Goodings to the mission field.
Q: How and when did you first come to TEAM and what was the journey that led you here?
A: We were called to missions 25 years ago at our sending church. As mission majors at Moody Bible Institute, we had the opportunity to go to Japan, and we started raising support to go and serve there. But the Lord closed that door. Then over the last several years, we served on our church’s mission committee team and took short-term mission trips to Haiti, Germany, and Papua.
In 2015, I started working in the TEAM Finance department. Then about a year and a half ago, TEAM asked us to consider moving to Asia. We prayed about it and agreed on Tokyo, Japan as the destination.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your family. What are the Goodings all about?
A: We currently live in the Chicagoland area. We have four amazing kids, Nathan (17), Jonah (16), Tirzah (13), and Sam (11). We have been homeschooling for the last 10 years and we love the flexibility it allows our family to have. Three out of four kids are actively involved in our church youth group and our youngest participates in AWANA. Our family likes board games, hiking, camping, and serving together at church.
Q: So, then you sensed this calling overseas…explain how that happened. Did you and Becca both sense it at once or did one of you wrestle with it at first? What about the kids?
A: We were both called in 1997 (prior to dating), and it was no mystery. The Lord clearly spoke to us in an altar call specifically regarding ministry. We’ve made the kids aware of this calling from the beginning. We’ve said to the kids, “God has called us, therefore you are also called.” Missions are part of our family. We don’t think it was a shock to any of our children when we shared the idea with them.
Q: And so your role in Japan will be kind of a ‘hybrid’ so to speak? You’ll be in the field, but also still filling a staff-type role as a part of TEAM’s Global Services. What will that look like?
A: Hybrid, correct. We’ve officially been appointed and will be commissioned as global workers. We will be involved in ministry in Japan day-to-day, but also focused on serving and working alongside other global workers.
Q: How do you think your background on staff will help you in the field? Or on the flip side, are there challenges that might come because of your background on staff?
A: I think that it may help solve some of the concerns that global workers have with the home office. It also allows me to see things from the global workers’ perspective. I suppose the challenges will be managing different expectations from staff and global workers as I wear two hats.
Q: So let’s talk a little more about that staff/office “hat” that you’ll be wearing in Tokyo. What is the purpose of the TEAM office in Japan? Is it new?
A: The physical office in Japan is not new, nor is it the “hub” of globalization.* Japan is where our family fits in this globalization puzzle. The Japan office has its own role specific to TEAM Japan, managing TEAM’s properties. The office is half “western” and half Japanese. TEAM is adapting by becoming less North American in look, approach, and design. This is not unlike what missionaries have done for centuries! What’s new is partnering with multiple nations to learn from each other and best impact the least reached with the Gospel.
Q: So where are you in the process? What happens next?
A: We’ve completed the application, been appointed and placed, and have gone through all the in-person and online training. The next step is a commissioning service at our church and hopefully, we’ll be departing for Tokyo around the middle of March. Right now, we’re in the middle of transitioning and raising support.
Q: What are each of you most excited about? And the kids?
A: Being obedient to our calling and watching the Lord redeem this opportunity. The kids are just excited that we’re going on a new adventure!
Q: For a lot of people outside the day-to-day work of global missions, it’s hard to understand why there are so many moving parts – home office, field workers, sending churches, national churches worldwide, donors, and supporters. Since you’ve rubbed shoulders with all of these, how would you explain why all these pieces of the puzzle are so crucial?
A: I think it is most important to keep the main goal in mind from Revelation 5:9, seeing disciples raised up from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation in heaven. To that end, there are a lot of threads to the Lord’s tapestry. I think it is most important to understand your gifts and use these for His glory, His Church, and His Gospel. It’s exciting to see the Lord open ongoing connections and people, all with the global desire to send workers well in the harvest field.
Q: As you know, TEAM’s first defining value is God Dependence. How has this journey led you and your family to more fully depend on God?
A: We feel like there’s some opposition with everything we’ve walked through in the last 6 months. But we’ve also walked through a number of “unexplained” incidents that would not normally just happen. This has forced us to consider the calling and remember that the Lord is at the center of it. Of course, we feel ill-equipped (though we’re not actually ill-equipped). But that only further drives us to our knees. It also helps us keep a healthy mental and spiritual perspective. We need to count the cost as a family. We pray about submitting to His plans, which are always greater and better than anything we could think or imagine (I Cor 2:9).
*Globalization: the process that is occurring within the world of missions in which local churches around the world are taking the lead in reaching their own cultures and communities (and others) with the Gospel of Christ, with global workers assisting and supporting those efforts. To read more about the globalization of missions, check out this post.