I’m getting ready to celebrate Decision Day 2014 next week. I’ve had a lot of things racing through my head lately and I’m working them out by writing about them. Thanks for “listening.” I’m doing a “fun” post tomorrow, promise. I first found this letter by accident on my hard drive around the time we went to OR. It was too painful for me to do anything other than skim and then close the window, but I’m not tiptoeing around this anymore. I asked God for a life’s work. It was bigger than I thought it would be.
To remind you: this is my friend, Mr. N. I wrote the letter to Mr. and Mrs. N – they are JJ’s maternal grandparents and I would invite myself over to “The Farm” in OR to visit them twice a month when I lived there. It was such a huge blessing to have the N’s as resources to help me think through the ramifications of such a decision.
August 2010 – to Mr. and Mrs. N
…As you pointed out last Sunday this is a BIG decision…seeing as how I’m not quite ready for social security yet :). (July ’14 Update: The US gov’t decided I’m ready after all and I am grateful to be on Social Security Disability) That’s why I appreciate your prayers so much. I did read that article in Missions Magazine and have been collecting more and more information from books, other missionaries etc. Over the past several weeks my heart has been gradually filled with peace regarding this matter. The questions you asked/suggestions you laid out in your note have been very helpful, Mr. N, and I’d like to write a few thoughts concerning each:
- Does any other avenue look as good? Would I be as content at Intel as in Bujumbura?
I am definitely grateful to have a good job at Intel, but when I think of what I would like my life’s work to be, working in Corporate America is not it. My personality has always been work-driven, i.e. I work hard and long, seeing good work as a way of maintaining one’s testimony and honoring the Lord’s name. But my greatest satisfaction at work has always been sharing the Lord with co-workers and seeing Him draw them near to Himself, and He has given me a heart to love all kinds of people –security guards, secretaries, executives, associates. The idea of being able to serve the Lord “full-time” fills my heart with joy. Since the beginning of the year I have been asking the Lord to give me some special service for Him and that if it was not His will that He would take the desire away from me. Well, the desire has only gotten stronger (and to borrow a phrase from CMML’s Global Strategy) “What once seemed unattractive and impossible, now seems delightful and compelling.”
- Find a Scripture
On the night of August 13th I was lying in bed thinking of Burundi and worrying about the fact that I’ve never been to Africa and if I could really “handle it.” The Lord brought to my mind Christmas of 2005. A very very dear lady from my chapel, Aunty Sila, was dying of multiple myeloma. I went to visit her on December 23rd. It was apparent that her condition was deteriorating rapidly (so much from even 1 week before), and that she would be going home to be with the Lord soon. Her husband, Uncle B(W) , needed help, and I wanted very much to be able to stay with them that night, but was nervous that I might be indulging my propensity for what Isobel Kuhn calls “missionary heroics.” So I called my mom and dad, who are very good at keeping me accountable, and consulted them. They loved Aunty Sila too, (everyone loved Aunty Sila!) and said that yes, if I wanted to stay, it would be a good thing to help Uncle Bill. So Dad came over to Uncle Bill’s apartment with my toothbrush and pajamas, and brought Dr. M, (Clarification: my favorite endocrinologist, as opposed to “guitar boy”) another one of the elders, with him. Dr. M sat me down and said that he knew I wanted to stay, but he was concerned because he didn’t think I had ever seen anyone die before, and that I should be aware that it could be scary. I remember at that moment I just looked him in the eye, and said “No, I haven’t ever seen anyone die before, but I’m not afraid. I want to stay.” And I did…I stayed and watched with Aunty Sila for 2 days and 2 nights until she went home to be with the Lord. I had no idea what I would be called upon to do during that time, and if I had maybe I would have gone home with Dad! But I will always recall watching with Aunty Sila and attending to her in her final hours as one of the highest honors of my life…anyway, I know that I stayed with Aunty Sila for a weekend, whereas now I’m talking about a potentially long-term/permanent move to Africa, but my point is that I was not afraid because I knew that the Lord would give me the grace I needed when I needed it, and that the underlying motivation was LOVE. I loved Aunty Sila so much…so as I recalled all of these events as I lay in bed the Lord brought 2 Cor 5.14-15 to mind:
“For the love of Christ compels us, having concluded this, that one died for all, and if one died for all, therefore all died, and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”
- Look at circumstances
The biggest circumstance that I see pointing towards my going to Bujumbura is simply that J&J have asked folks to pray that the Lord would provide someone to help with the financial aspects of the ministries there. For the first time EVER I do not just have a generally benevolent wish to “serve the Lord,” but an area that I am trained in and could fill a true and specific need. Also, my job is a rotation program, meaning that they expect me to move on to another job within Intel within the next 6-9 months. So the environment at Intel already includes the assumptions that I will be moving on soon, and that they will need to hire a replacement for me. I have not communicated my desire to go to Burundi to J&J yet, but have corresponded in more general terms with them and received a very kind and encouraging note from them this week. I will wait until I speak more with my parents, and Lord-willing, speak with the Elders at W (my OR church), and at my chapel in Maryland, asking them for their prayers and counsel…