We are called Separately and Together
These are our accounts of god's call in our life which lead us to this place
[As told by Elizabeth]
I [Elizabeth] am from a small town in Northwest Louisiana where my family faithfully attended a local Baptist Church. I have to confess that I had a reputation at that church. I was the one who slept through nearly every sermon. However, I recall being a young teenager sitting in the pew on a particular Sunday when my body and my spirit were awakened. A missionary came to share her story about how God was working in and through her in Africa. At that moment, I knew that is what I wanted to do. I came home that Sunday and shared this exciting call with my family, but they did not share my same enthusiasm. My dad is a man of deep faith, but Africa seemed a little to far for his baby girl. (He recently shared a memory of the first time we were together.. He looked into my newborn baby eyes and told God that I belonged to God. Perhaps this is the true genesis of my call story.)
Life went on a usual. My family assured me that my call would best be lived out if I completed my education. So I spent four years getting my bachelor’s degree at Centenary College of Louisiana. Then I was ready to go to Africa….except, I was dating this really cool guy [David] and maybe I needed some more education. So I spent the next four years at University of Louisiana at Monroe in pharmacy school. After graduation, I was ready to go to Africa….except, I had this new husband, and mountains of student loans, and it seemed like I should be saving for retirement.
Through the years, I had opportunities to do short term international mission trips. My soul felt fully alive during these trips. It was like the space between heaven and earth was very thin. It was interesting to me because many of the places we went were so impoverished but it was not at all hard to find the presence of God there. David and I found this type of work to be a very tangible expression of our love and faith in Christ. We talked about making this our life’s work and dedication, but we always saw the barriers…..those student loans, fear of leaving family, uncertainty of what life is like away from our life of privilege and luxury.
We struggled with an unsettledness. We had been given so many opportunities to succeed. I can not claim that our advantages we enjoyed were our own, but because people had helped us out along the way. I kept thinking of the verse in Luke 12 that says “To whom much is given, much is expected.” At this point, our life reflected a worldly success. We had a comfortable home, a car, secure jobs with benefits, and two beautiful children in great schools. But the question persisted. How could we continue in this lifestyle when so many in the world and our own community struggle with basic needs?
Life went on as usual. Our small group was doing a study by Jen Hatmaker called “The 7 Experiment” that encouraged a practice of fasting. I had never truly fasted but decided to give it a go. David and I approached the fast with a request to God. We were looking for divine direction…or at least a little clarity. By the end of the study, there was no road map to life delivered to my doorstep. But I was moved by the Spirit to address my excesses.
Then, softly, there seemed to be a whisper to go to the mission field. I thought this was a call that had been left and lost in my 20s. David and I prayed and talked and prayed some more. During this time, I came across this scripture found in Isaiah 61 and Luke 4: “The spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good new to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” It felt like a gift of confirmation in our call to the mission field and we decided to apply to be missionaries with the United Methodist Church.
Nearly 1 ½ years after submitting our application and having interviews, we received a very vague email. Global Ministries, the sending agency for missionaries in the UMC, may have positions for us in Mozambique. After we searched Google maps for Mozambique, we kinda flipped out. A few months
later, we got our job descriptions: a pharmacist and a hospital administrator for a 200 bed hospital. We kinda had another flip out moment as these are big jobs. But then we remembered our call….that the spirit of the Lord is upon us. That God has and will continue to equip us for the work which we are called to. And that in our weakness, He is strong….and it is all to God’s Glory.
So we ask you to join us in this calling, as we are all called to be agents of change and reconciliation for Christ. Be with us in prayers and giving, as we are all called to be instruments of God’s love and peace. Also, I encourage you to ponder how the Lord calling you. What passion has God set in your heart? What are the tangible expressions of your love and faith in the living God?
As you seek answers, be reminded that The Spirit of Lord is upon us all.
[AS TOLD BY DAVID]
I [David] was born into the United Methodist tradition. Being introduced at a young age into the workings of Vacation Bible Schools, Church Acolyte, and confirmation. In high school, through my involvement with the United Methodist Church, I had opportunities to participate in short term and weekend mission trips. It was during these time when I first began to earnestly feel the Holy Spirit moving within me and stirring in my life in a direction of service.
After graduating High School, I attended a local Methodist affiliated college, Centenary College of Louisiana. There, however, I choose to focus less on serving others and more on serving myself. It was in my final year at Centenary, on a quite literal mountaintop high, when I began to feel the urge, the pull back into a community of faith. Slowly I reintroduced myself to involvement with the church.
At my home church, I began to get involved in the youth and young adult program. Through these groups I had the opportunity to lead and mentor future pastors and searchers of the faith. It was at this time I also met a woman who had not only a deep faith, but also a heart for missions.
It was with her I completed my first international Mission Trip to Honduras. Little was I aware it was her final test of me to see if I was marriage material. Fortunately, I passed and we are now married with two beautiful daughters.
Life went on as usual and we began to accomplish the worldly success. We had affordable housing, good jobs, and good schools for our children. However, we were being lead to a different path. We began volunteering with a local charity in an impoverished area of town. Through this group we helped to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the infirmed and imprisoned. We worked to end homelessness and we barely scratched the surface of the need in our community. It was during this time when that familiar and comforting stirring of the Holy Spirit was renewed within me. More so than feeling the Spirit inside me, I could see the Spirit in the faces of those who we came in contact with. It was this reason, along with small group studies, fasting, and a discernment period, we choose to apply to be missionaries.
We felt and found a call to the live outside of our regular routine and comfort level. We felt the call to work towards a life along side our fellow man and woman. Through this call, we have found our place in the community of Chicuque and Maxixe Mozambique. God has lead us to this place for God’s glory in our actions.
I am not a pastor; I hold no degrees of higher education in religion, theology, or philosophy. I come only with a love of God, an example of Jesus, and a heart to serve along side my brothers and sisters as we work to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth. My call to ministry is to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God.