Most of you know that both Casey and I went to Ozark to be trained as missionaries. We both have degrees in missions and intercultural studies. We love the nations. We firmly believe in Jesus' last recorded command on earth, found in Acts 1:7-8. Yet, even though we are debt free, we are not on the field. Not only that but we're not support raising or even currently in talks with churches or missions organizations to go. So, what happened? Let's start with an illustration...
On multi-gear bicycles, there is what's called a derailleur. It's primary purpose is to respond to the shifting mechanisms to change the gears so you can change the difficulty of the ride. When it's fully functioning, the change from one gear to the next is smooth and almost unnoticeable. When it's not in tip top shape, you will definitely start noticing a difference. Sometimes, you will try to shift, and it will not budge. Conversely, you will move into another gear, and it jumps to a completely different gear. If you are not prepared for this, it can cause you to lurch, or even to crash, depending on the severity.
Likewise, sometimes the derailleur of life does not seem to be fully functioning. You're cruising along, even picking up speed as you head toward graduation. You're in an internship, which you'll finish a few months after crossing the stage. You've been talking with KontaktMission or NMSI about post-graduation plans. Things are getting exciting as you go to shift into high gear, and then it happens. Not only does your chain skip that gear, it goes all the way off the assembly, catches, and brings you to a halt. You get a phone call in the middle of the night asking you to adopt. (Or you get a call from a huge supporting church to tell you they're pulling out. Or...you get the picture.)
For me, that phone call elicited a few internal responses. Among them, anger, fear, and confusion. What about graduating? How will we afford being parents? What if I am a terrible parent? The questions went on an on and finally, What about missions? As many of you know, a few years ago I dealt pretty badly with rejection from another attempt to prepare for the field. I knew who I was much better than I did then. My faith and being was not shaken. However, I still had the questions. This adoption, would it completely derail our missions future, either temporarily or permanently? Would we be able to continue our internship? There were many other questions, but here are the answers I know:
No, we would not be able to continue our internship. Finishing school, beginning to adopt/be parents, and doing an internship all while working full time were nigh impossible. Yes, our missions future would be derailed temporarily. The answer I don't know yet, and the one my heart still longs to know the answer, is whether or not we are no longer bound for the field in the future. You could definitely say the derailleur of our life was malfunctioning.
I, however, have come to terms with this situation. Just as I came to terms with the rejection a few years ago. In a way, I feel like Job. I have come to realize that I have no right to question God's reasoning in the direction He sends us. I, perhaps errently, have come to believe that this was His plan all along. After all, He is the Father to the fatherless, and I have become a father to a fatherless. Not only that, but I am at a job where we are being well provided for. (I fully disagree with the prosperity "gospel", but at the same time understand it is my duty to provide for my family.) Excellent starting pay, great insurance benefits, and even tuition assistance.
That last point again makes me think this is God's doing. Just yesterday I began my first Spanish class. So far, I know this: Hola, Buenos Dias. Soy Karl Mitchell! Y Usted? Ah, mucho gusto! Encantado. Don't expect me to be making much conversation anytime soon. However, as we are living back in Albuquerque, free Spanish classes (which, eventually will allow me to take calls in Spanish) is an amazing way to open up more ministry opportunities. This is especially true considering the quandrant of the city in which we live. Where I grew up, on the other side of the city, it was predominantly non-Hispanic. On this side we are definitely the minority. Therefore, Spanish seems apropos to finally learn.
Perhaps for the time being our global outreach is on hold. However, God may be trying to teach us a thing or two where we are, if only we open our hearts. Are you open to what God is doing in your life? Are you ready to be used, wherever you are? I hope so.
Grace and peace, mi Amigos.