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DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Called to Step Out

Written by: on September 7, 2018

CALLED TO STEP OUT

When people know who they are and what they were called to do in life, it is often hard to remain still.

In the early 1900’s, reaching the lost became a major priority because they felt the imminent return of Christ upon them. Many ministers and missionaries of the gospel embarked on the missions’ field (home and abroad) with just their faith and the heavy burden of the gospel on their hearts. Some foreign missionaries were ill-prepared for the journey ahead due to lack of funds, lack of education, lack of cultural knowledge of the countries they entered, and lack of missionary strategy. As a result, the face of the great missionary movement began to shift. Instead of heading out to the mission field because of the “call”; that calling now has to be evaluated and vetted before they take their first step.

Jackie Pullinger’s Chasing the Dragon highlights some of the issues she faced as an early missionary to China. She received rejection after rejection, but she knew her call and to where she was called. She even encountered a time of discouragement since missionaries during that time were sent by a church and/or an organization; nevertheless, she did not have the commission of any of them. However, she had counsel who gave her these wise words, “If you had a job, a ticket, accommodation, a sick fund, and a pension; you would not need to trust Him…Anyone can go that way whether they are Christian or not. If I were you, I would go out and buy a ticket for a boat going on the longest journey you can find and pray to know where to get off.” [1]

Her story exemplifies what it means to trust and follow the leading of God no matter how the circumstance appears. She believed God and stepped out on the water of faith. It speaks with a began multitude of strength, resilience, and surrender which any minister or missionary of the gospel can use to strengthen the perspective on their journey.

Step of Obedience

The circumstances of life will rise against the calling and purpose of the next season in life. However, on the horizon, the promise stands in the midst of the storm.

In September of 2017, a young couple was on the cusp of shifting in their lives. Unsure of where or when the shifting would come into being, they relied heavily on the Holy Spirit and meditating on God’s Word to lead them. One particular scripture remained at the forefront of this time for them. Evangelists and prophets spoke these words over them consistently; “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”[2]

After a trip to South Africa, the couple came face to face with the shift God had prepared them for months before. The husband was told by his place of work that there was nothing left there for him to do, and due to his educational advancement, he should seek other employment. Neither he nor his wife understood the reason why but it was apart of closing the door allowing the move for their new season could begin.

Soon after, the couple began receiving calls for interviews of which neither applied nor issued a resume. Maybe God knew they were still comfortable where they were planted. Consequently, He didn’t wait for them to uproot themselves; He did it for them.

The first job interview did not work out, but the second job interview was the one. It was an interview that would catapult the couple into a region foreign to them away from family and friend but one they knew God was calling them to help take for the kingdom. This region is a mission field in itself with only 15% to 20% of the population professing Christianity or have knowledge of Christ. In the city in which they live has 17 churches with a general population of approximately 17,000 but, the largest congregation may attribute to about 4.8%. Yet, in the 1920’s the churches and streets of the city were filled with revivals from the Protestants to the Pentecostals.

God was calling them to take a step into the unknown and become like Abraham, leaving his country and people begin to go where God was sending him.

In that same season, the wife’s father fell profoundly ill and was hospitalized to the point of an induced coma as the couple scheduled an out of state for an in-person interview for their new prospected positions. She prayed and questioned if this was the right timing. She even suggested her husband go onward without her. She knew God was calling her to surrender it all to him, so they purchased the tickets and kept praying for a breakthrough. The next day in the hospital she told her mother about the interview not sure of her response. Her response was one of unadulterated wisdom. She merely said “It’s you and your husband’s time to do what God has called you to do. Your dad will be fine. God has us and everything under control.” On the day before their scheduled departure, her father opened his eyes. This word of support was the assurance need that “He (God) had told (them) clearly to go.”[3]

Lesson One: Take a deep breath and step. “You can’t lose if you put yourself completely in God’s hands.”[4]

Step in Authority

Within a few weeks of the interview, the couple stepped in obedience and moved cross country to began their next journey. They advanced into a season of repositioning for their call. Every gifting, skill and portion of anointing had been cultivating and accumulating into the very moment they step place into their new positions. As a result of their obedience, they were able to see the past fruit of their labor in previous ministries birth forth as well in the one they currently reside. They have seen lives changed. They had been a part of the process of witnessing the lost come to know Christ. They have experience healings, divine alignments and God’s provision in every area of their life.

Maybe the next time, there will be more to this story. Until then will you remain on the shore or will be a Pullinger, a Peter, and take a walk on the water?

 

[1] Jackie Pullinger, Chasing the Dragon (Place of publication not identified: Hodder and Stoughton, 2001), 35.

[2] Joshua 1:9 ESV

[3] Jackie Pullinger, Chasing the Dragon (Place of publication not identified: Hodder and Stoughton, 2001), 34.

[4] Jackie Pullinger, Chasing the Dragon (Place of publication not identified: Hodder and Stoughton, 2001), 35.

 

 

About the Author

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Shermika Harvey

6 responses to “Called to Step Out”

  1. Digby Wilkinson says:

    Hi Shermika.
    With you I was taken by Pullinger’s call to mission work and the conflict with institutional mission. I watched those same conflicts occur in our part of the world throughout the eighties. However, I do wonder about the ethical nature of God’s call when there are dependants involved. It doesn’t appear in Pullinger’s book, but the power of her call as a single woman has often motivated parents to move headlong in to the unknown with children who have no choice. Often those children bear the brunt of adult tragedy and mission difficulties that they do not have the emotional and spiritual tools to handle, yet alone their parents. It’s certainly not everyone’s experience but I have dealt with some disasters that really didn’t need to happen. It’s a strange tension between the call of God, and placing others in dangers way. Testimony surrounding the power of God can be both helpful and problematic in varying contexts.

    • mm Shermika Harvey says:

      Hi Digby,

      I call to ministry to the unknown indeed holds its tension. Though I have never been a missionary globally, I have done home missions and several church plants as a single mother with two boys. While they were younger the ministry strain rarely affected them. However, after I got married and continued to do church plants, myself and my husband included them as active participants in our ministry call. Recently, with our new move we finally become aware that if there is no outlet for the children, they will begin to fill the heaviness. As parents called to ministry, we must understand the call, incorporate and cover our children in our call; be open with them about the call and allow God to show you the avenue to birth something great in them during the process.

  2. Digby Wilkinson says:

    Hi Shermika.
    With you I was taken by Pullinger’s call to mission work and the conflict with institutional mission. I watched those same conflicts occur in our part of the world throughout the eighties. However, I do wonder about the ethical nature of God’s call when there are dependants involved. It doesn’t appear in Pullinger’s book, but the power of her call as a single woman has often motivated parents to move headlong in to the unknown with children who have no choice. Often those children bear the brunt of adult tragedy and mission difficulties that they do not have the emotional and spiritual tools to handle, yet alone their parents. It’s certainly not everyone’s experience but I have dealt with some disasters that really didn’t need to happen. It’s a strange tension between the call of God, and placing others in dangers way. Testimony surrounding the power of God can be both helpful and problematic in varying contexts.

  3. mm Sean Dean says:

    One of the things I found interesting for Pullinger is that she didn’t really understand her call until she had been in it for what seemed (according to the book) like years. Even going to Hong Kong seemed fairly random at first. In our society that is so averse to unplanned risk her stepping out in faith, given that lack of clarity, was inspiring.

  4. Hi Shamika,
    I too was greatly inspired by the recount of Pullinger of her call to minister to the lowly of this world which required her to move away from her comfort zone, and go into the unknown. It was a call to obedience and putting her faith in God despite of the uncertainities that surrounded her calling.
    Her story has so many similarities with our story of doing ministry in the slums of Mathare Valley in Kenya and the growth of the ministry from one pre-school with 50 children to the current 23 schools with over 16,000 children in multiple locations across our country Kenya. I can attest to the faithfulness of God when we take the step of faith to obey Him.

  5. mm Tammy Dunahoo says:

    Shermika, thank you for living out a walk of trust. As you described Pullinger’s experience with mission institutions I was reminded of how I often encounter the tension between the simple obedience to a call (mine or others) and the institutional processes that can seem confining, and sometimes are. I have learned that every policy and protocol have a story and were intended to safeguard people as they walk out their assignment. Unfortunately, over time the processes become institutional-isms and organizations forget why they were created in the first place and/or have lost their purpose due to change in culture, environments, etc. I had posted on Mary’s blog about having the need for a both/and perspective rather than either/or. I think this is true when considering the role of institutions/organizations in mission. Sometimes there are good boundaries provided by these to keep us from walking through challenges unnecessarily and we must discern if they are truly safeguards or barriers and have the courage to speak against them or even get outside them if they are, in fact, barriers to what God has said.

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