In November 2014, I was in a classroom that had a piano with a wooden cutout of a sheep leaning against it. It was as if the sheep was cautiously peering around the corner of the piano.
In that moment, I thought, I don’t want to be like that sheep. I want to be the kind of sheep that goes charging around the corner if I think I hear my Shepherd’s voice.
Have you ever been that sheep, longing to follow the Shepherd, thinking you heard His voice, but hesitating because you’re not quite sure?
I have — many times. But I think the Shepherd would rather see us running after Him in trusting abandon than stopping at every corner until we’re absolutely sure we’re going the right way.
I certainly hope that’s what He likes to see because, over the last two-and-a-half years, I feel like I’ve done a lot of running around one corner only to find that it leads to a dead end.
Three Applications. Three Rejections.
The same fall that I saw the sheep, I applied to teach English with a missions agency in East Asia. The exhausting application process took several months. And for all that, I wasn’t accepted.
I decided to take a break from pursuing missions, but about a month later, two different people brought the same opportunity to my attention. I thought, OK, God, I’ll try this again.
So, I started the TEAM application process for a position in East Asia. A couple months later, the team in East Asia decided they didn’t need the position after all.
I was back to square one.
My missions coach started looking at other opportunities for me, and I started tentatively looking at an opportunity in South Africa. That’s when the East Asia team told me about their sister team in a nearby city. I talked to the workers there and decided to pursue a position with them.
I was several months into that process and convinced this was where God had been leading me all along. And then I found out TEAM’s Counseling Department had decided not to approve me for that position.
I was crushed. I took about a month off from my application process.
Maybe God is telling me to stay in America, I thought.
A Last Ditch Effort
Despite my discouragement, I couldn’t shake the burden I felt for unreached people. So, I decided to go to TEAM’s website and start searching the opportunities … again.
This time, I typed “Children’s Ministry” and “Unreached People Groups” into the opportunity search engine.
Only one opportunity showed up: It was something called Launch.
Launch is a two-year program in France that gives aspiring missionaries the chance to experience life on the field as they work with Muslim immigrants from North Africa.
I had never considered going to Europe, and I knew absolutely nothing about Muslim ministry. But I thought, Well, clearly God is capable of closing doors I’m not supposed to go through, so I’ll just head for this door until it closes.
The Launch door stayed open — like, really wide open — through applying, through training and even through fundraising.
I started raising support in July 2016 and was trying to leave in December. All my support came in with time to spare. Once again, I was convinced this was where God wanted me.
Then my visa got denied.
One Small Step
Launch invited me to come to France anyway. They said to come on a 90-day tourist visa, experience what’s going on there and try to discern if God might be leading me to North Africa.
Thankfully, God had clearly confirmed for me that He wanted me to go to France, so I felt good about taking that step.
I got on a plane to France two months ago, and now I’m beginning a month in North Africa.
After that, I don’t know where I’ll be, but I’m trying not to obsess over that. I want to focus on being where I am and trust God to make the next step clear at just the right time.
After all, deciding where to go is not my job. Destinations are the Shepherd’s job. The sheep’s job is just to follow.
“And the Lord will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” Isaiah 58:11 (NASB)
Are you ready to explore your calling to missions? Launch helps aspiring missionaries like you gain the insights and education they need to find their place on the mission field. Click here to learn more about this unique opportunity today.