Dee didn’t plan to serve overseas until about two years ago. She was seeking a part-time ministry because she planned to return to school. At a mission conference, she met a Wycliffe worker who described an opportunity for oral Bible storytelling in West Africa. “At that point,” Dee recalls, “I wasn’t thinking anything about going overseas. That was the furthest thing from my mind.”
As she listened politely, tears began streaming down her face for no apparent reason. Once she was alone, Esther 4:14 popped into her head: “Who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” She then found herself praying, “Lord, if this is your will for my life, let this verse start showing up everywhere.”
God graciously provided that confirmation! On the drive home from the conference she spotted a framed picture of that verse in the bathroom of a gas station. During the next two and a half weeks, Esther 4:14 showed up three to five times a day. Indeed, God was leading Dee to West Africa to empower people to do evangelism and discipleship, possibly before they have literacy education or a Bible translation project underway.
Even when Dee listened to other oral Bible storytellers share about the challenges they had faced, God reaffirmed his purpose by impressing on her, “I can get you through that.”
As part of the last bit of training she needed before heading to West Africa, Dee attended the Intercultural Communication Course (ICC) at JAARS. Her experience was different from that of most ICC participants.
The year before her ICC training, she had lived with a missionary kid from Papua New Guinea and a refugee from North Sudan. The Sudanese lady coached Dee throughout the year on the kind of behavior that could come across the wrong way or accidentally offend someone in a different culture. So when Dee arrived at ICC, she was already a few steps ahead of the other students. Yet, the course was still “reaffirming in a lot of ways. It was such an encouragement to see how God had already been preparing me in ways that I hadn’t even realized.
The participants listened to an interview of a pastor in another country who had spent 60 days in prison for preaching the Word of God. This pastor described how the feeling of the Lord’s absence was the hardest part of his solitary confinement.
God was also silent for five years of Dee’s own spiritual walk, even though she did everything she needed to maintain her relationship with God. When the pastor echoed Dee’s experience in the interview, “It was really encouraging, because to a certain degree, I’d already experienced that and come out the other side and seen God’s faithfulness.” This interview reminded Dee that she doesn’t have to be afraid in these grim situations.
The month of ICC is challenging. Like a concave mirror it magnifies the weaknesses in your life. “You are having buttons that you didn’t even know [existed] pushed,” Dee explains.
Participants have opportunities to deepen their relationships with the Lord. This is key, because as they learn about fault lines in their lives, they will become better equipped to overcome those areas. Satan will lean into and push these cracks to fracture individuals or even an entire team on the field. “It’s helpful to have people invested in you and your success, pouring into you and willing to push you where you need to be pushed,” Dee says. This way, God willing, the mission workers won’t break while in their future ministries. Ministries where the Lord is placing them for such a time as this.
You can invest in the ICC participants who will be encouraged toward growth at the course at JAARS from January 22 through February 21 by praying:
- God would reaffirm his calling to each participant.
- God would guard the health of the 33 participants, 27 children, facilitators and other staff.
- God would pour his wisdom out on the facilitators, presenters, and other ICC staff.
Thank you for praying!