We left everything to join Youth with a Mission as missionaries. I left a career of 19 yrs. I left an income that supported our family. My wife left her beloved dog, cat and pet sitting business. We left our oldest daughter. We left our home. We left our family and friends. My oldest son left university. My youngest daughter left her friends who loved her so. My younger son left a 7+ yrs of travel Ice Hockey. We left our culture. We left it all to follow Jesus.
Now, we are back. I want to share 7 things I learned from leaving everything to follow Jesus.
- Just because God guides you into something, does not mean it will be easy. It surprised me how hard it was. I did not experience an unusual grace that made all the hard stuff, easy. There was abundant grace to do what we did, but it did not remove the difficulty of the experience. God’s grace got us through the hard experiences vs. avoiding them altogether.
- God does not need our talent, ability, or strength. In the last 6 months, I felt like a failure. More so, than I had in years. I was so aware of my weaknesses, my sin, my shortcomings. Yet, in my weaknesses I gave God my yes, my willingness. That was all He needed to produce fruit. Our family saw over 120 salvations in the midst of our personal weaknesses. My 14 yr old son, who never preached in his life, preached 3 times and say 55 teenagers come to salvation. We struggled with physical sickness, homesickness, interpersonal conflicts, and many other things. Yet, God partnered with us anyway to see a harvest won.
- I learned God guides as you Go. Before this experience, I did nothing until I hear God speak. I was so afraid to get it wrong! I learned God can show me as I go. I don’t have to wait months in silence for the “voice” before I step out in faith. We saw many discouraged missionaries because they did not hear the “voice”. If your 51% sure, go for it.
- God breaks fear off your life by leading you into adventure. I discovered I had terrible fears of nature. I feared tragic things would happen to my family. I was 22, when I saw my friend plunge to his death from a rock climbing accident right in front of me. Ever since, I was nervous around risky adventures. I confronted those fears with God’s help. We did things that were dangerous or potentially dangerous. I jumped off cliffs, hiked up mountain cliffs, drove down 30% grade life-threatening single path roads, went into drug-infested slums to preach the gospel, went into prisons, snorkeled in open oceans, rode dangerous waves, rode planks of wood welded to a motorcycle into head on traffic & up mountains, ate strange things and lived to tell about it.
- God is faithful to provide. I was unsure of how to move forward the last week of our mission assignment. I had no direction and was NOT prepared to “go for it” to find work. In that state, I was approached about a job the Wednesday before we came home via email. 1 week after we came home, I did a 20 mins interview for the job. Less that a week after, they offered me the job with same salary I made before. I wasted weeks and months worrying about money and it did not make a bit of difference.
- We need so little to be happy in life. The slum kids we played with are proof of this. Living out of a suitcase in small quarters or my entire family in 1 tiny room was hard but not impossible. It was nice to see my kids vs. them be sequestered away in their rooms all the time, living separate lives. We grew closer together by being physically closer together. We came back to the mainland overwhelmed with a sense of we don’t need all this stuff. Why do we have all this? Sometimes our luxuries (compared the rest of the world) actually lead us further apart and into isolation
- Jesus is worth it. Going into this I focused a lot on what I was giving up or walking away from. Would we be ok, would God be faithful to us and take care of our concerns? After I crossed the line of no return, I was overwhelmed by Jesus’s worthiness. It was my honor to give these things up for His glory. It was my privilege to have my life’s sacrifice be my praise to Him. I got such a greater revelation of what I was gaining by giving all to Jesus. I was not losing a thing. I gained more of Jesus. I gained more of his heart, his perspective, & his desires for everyone to know and experience His love. I did not lose, I gained everything. Reminds me of the old praise song “when all things that surround become shadows in the light of You”
I pray you get to experience what I’ve experienced, Jesus is worth it! Taste and See that the Lord is Good. Take your own steps to Taste and see for yourself.