The Messenger :: Discernment of a Call
God continually uses, redeems, rebukes, and redeems again our brokenness. Through that brokenness shines the light of His truth and love.
God’s joy and delight is in reconciling the world to Him through a messy people. That’s God’s mission. That’s a mission we are called into—to surrender our brokenness to His redemptive power that will bring all nations to know Him.
For February's Messenger, we continue the conversation about a disciple maker's call. We’ve asked Chris Shelby, former missionary to Rwanda to talk about discerning your call. Our prayer for this month is that God’s redemptive work be all the more present through your weakness and brokenness as you pursue His call to bring the Good News of His reign to all peoples .
P.S. We always love to hear from our readers, so drop us a note and tell us what you think .
Better Together: Addressing Disciple Maker Resiliency and Attrition
Discernment of a Call
“Then Abram journeyed on by stages …” (Genesis 12:9 NABRE)
“I want to quit!”
“I can’t take this anymore.”
“There is no reason for us to be here!”
These were all thoughts that flew through my mind (along with many others) after a particularly frustrating day in Rwanda. God had called us to a people that I couldn’t understand, I couldn’t connect with, and frankly, at that point on the journey ... I didn’t really want to anymore.
I was done emotionally and pretty dry spiritually. If I could have jumped on the next flight home, I would have. But something wouldn’t let me.
In time, the emotions ran their course. I probably found a candy bar or some other taste of home that made me feel better as the day went on. The Lord continued to pursue me and fill me with His grace and kindness. My teammates were great, my wife understanding. And I pushed through to better days and ended up seeing God do more than we could’ve asked or imagined in our seven years in Rwanda .
Have you experienced something similar on your journey in missions? Believe me, you’re not alone. I’ve talked with countless others who have had bad days, even traumatic ones, and it never ceases to amaze me that so many of God’s sent ones stay. Why do we do it? It has something to do with the remarkable experience of being irrevocably called by God to do something.
“The call” can be an elusive term and is subject to many different interpretations. You can describe it as simple obedience, a supernatural anointing, or something in between—but so many of my missionary friends believe that God tapped them on the shoulder to engage the brokenness of the world and to do something about it. And they intend to see it through.
Many days, a missionary’s call is all that holds them in place. It is a grace from God to be touched in this way. It binds and unites your heart to a people and a place you really have no business loving.
Nothing really makes “sense” in the Kingdom of God, especially the idea that foreigners who are literal babies in culture, language, and experience could ever share anything worthwhile with their new neighbors and friends. Because this is what God does, it works time and time again. And every day more and more people are coming into the Kingdom because God’s sent ones stay .
I remember riding in the back of Sam and Nancy Shewmaker’s Landcruiser on our first day in Rwanda, driving though the narrow streets of Kigali, completely overwhelmed by the faces that flew past me. I saw hundreds of people on the streets and all I could think was “How in the world am I ever going to be able to do this, God?”
And I think when God heard me whisper this into the midst of all those faces swirling past me, He smiled and said, “You can’t right now. But don’t worry, we’ll take this by stages.”
One encouragement I want to leave you with ...
Just like Abram who was given a massive call to bless the whole world, you are going to journey on in stages . You can’t do today what God has called you to. But that’s okay. One day, you will.
That first day in Rwanda I didn’t have the faith, the prayer capacity, or the skills to do what God had sent me there to do. But each day that came after the other, each language class completed, each word I mangled among my laughing neighbors, each wedding I went to, each street kid I met, each disciple making leader I engaged—they each took me further and further on the journey and represented the stages of living into the calling God had placed on me.
I don’t know where you’re at on the journey in your calling. Know that what God has asked you to do is exactly that—a journey. Whatever stage you find yourself in, embrace it, stay present, and know that your Father is with you and is preparing you to go onto the next one.
Stay. Engage. Relax. Work hard. Rest and love your family well. Pursue your calling one stage at a time. KEEP GOING. And when you get to the end, you won’t believe what God will allow you to see and accomplish.
It is breathtaking, the Kingdom of God coming. And you, called one, are in its very midst .