Recently I had the privilege of introducing a new missionary, Luke Aubrey, as part of my “New Missionary Focus” series. It was so much fun the first time, we’re going to do it again!
I recently had a chance to conduct an e-mail interview with Jessie, and I’d like to share some of our conversation with you now. There will be a second part to this blog which I will post in another week or so. I hope you enjoy the chance to get to know her, and that you might share her story with anyone who could give her some prayer. Also, as a retired missionary, I’m not embarrassed to remind people these young missionaries can always use some additional financial or material support if you feel called to give. I’ll include information on how you can contact them for prayer or material support later on. Enjoy!
My mom used to read missionary stories to my brothers and me on our way to and from church on Sundays. I always thought I would love to be a missionary someday, but didn’t think I had the gifting for it as I was shy, awkward around people, and terrified of them, to boot. But when we read several Wycliffe books about missionaries who translated the Bible, I thought maybe that was something I could do. But nothing came of that until much later when I was in my mid-twenties.
By then I had graduated from college with an accounting degree and had been working as an auditor for four years. At this point in my life I had finished school, completed a degree, had my own apartment, and had a great job with good benefits. Except for a boyfriend/husband, I had obtained everything we are told we are supposed to be striving for in life, and yet I felt completely unfulfilled and empty. So I decided to take a good hard look at my life and my goals in order to figure out the reason for my unfulfilled feelings.
I soon began to realize that everything I was striving for in life was because the “church” had told me that those were things I should be striving for. In particular the “church” had told me that as a Christian woman I was supposed to be a wife and mother, but since graduating and getting a job there was nothing at all happening in that department. As a result, I realized that I had been subconsciously putting my life on hold for the past four years thinking that my life as a true Christian woman could not really start until I was in a relationship. But since that was not happening, I was left feeling purposeless and empty, wondering what the point of my life was. As I kept digging into the cause of my emptiness, I realized that I had thought I was striving for what God wanted me to do with my life, but in reality I was actually just doing what the “church” had told me God wanted for my life. And it struck me that I had never actually asked God Himself what He wanted me to do with my life. And so I decided to stop allowing the church to be a go-between between God and myself and ask God directly what he wanted me for me.
However, I ran into a slight obstacle. If I was going to ask God what He wanted me to do with my life I needed to be ready to follow whatever it was He had for me. This thought scared the pants off me! What if He asked me to do something I really truly hated, or something I couldn’t do, something I was too afraid to do, or something I didn’t have the gifting or ability to do? But I asked myself, is this really the kind of God that I serve? One that sits up in heaven and ask us to do the impossible and then laughs at us when we can’t do it? What kind of sadistic view of God did I have? Or did I serve a God who deeply loved me beyond any love I could ever imagine? He was a God who would never ask me to do something I could not do without then providing me a means to do it through Him, and not just a means to do it, but a means to thrive in it and to succeed completely at it. And what if He did ask me to go through some hard times? If He really was a God that loved me as deeply as the Bible said, then wouldn’t He only be asking me to go through those hard times for my own benefit so that I could be more and more like the amazing woman God designed me to be? And would He not use those times to draw me amazingly and unimaginably close to Him so that through those experiences I could come alongside others and be able to show them God’s incomprehensible love through me? Could I ask for anything more than to be used by God in such an amazing way?
And so I decided to go ahead and take God at His Word and surrender to Him all my hopes, goals, and dreams, knowing that in doing so, I would need to be willing to give up those dreams and hopes if that is what He would ask of me, but also realizing that surrendering would not necessarily mean that he would ask me to give up those dreams since so often it is God himself that plants those dreams in us in the first place. But what it did mean was that I needed to be willing to turn over control of those dreams to Him. And wasn’t that better than having the weight of the responsibility of those dreams on my shoulders anyway? How freeing it was to instead put the responsibility of leadership on Him, who knows so much better what truly will give me peace, joy, happiness, and fulfillment, better than I could ever know myself.
So with these thoughts in my mind I gave control of my life goals to God, knowing that whatever he asked of me, be it small or great, easy or hard, at least I would be fulfilled and at peace, knowing I would be in His will, fulfilling the perfect plan that He had for my life since he first imagined me, his beloved child, into creation.
And so began my journey into missions. Once I had turn over all control to God, he began guiding me towards overseas missions and into Bible translation with Wycliffe, fulfilling the seed he had planted in my heart so long ago as a child listening to my mother read those missionary stories.
What is your favorite Bible Verse?
My favorite verse is Genesis 12:11 which says, “It came about when Abram came near to Egypt that he said to Sarai his wife, ‘See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman.’” I know that this sounds like a strange verse to be my favorite, but growing up my father always use to say to me, ‘pretty is as pretty does’ or in other words, the true beauty of a woman is in her actions, her character, her Christlikeness, her kindness, and her true love for others. When I get to heaven I want Christ to lean down and say to me, ‘See now, I know that you have been a beautiful woman.’
I’ll publish the remainder of my email interview with Jessie Wright next week. Stay tuned!