Many people will ask, “How, exactly, did you know God called you to do this?” That’s a lot like the questions I’ve gotten over the years about sermon preparation – “How do you know what God wants you to preach?”
Great questions. The problem with them, of course, is that they’re far easier to ask than to answer. It’s also far easier to know the answer than it is to put it into words. But I’ll try.
With sermon preparation, I have always looked for the new insight, the place where God is speaking to me through scripture, as my guide for leading others in my preaching. Where He leads me, I try to lead others.
This call to missions was something new for me. I had felt for several months that God was nudging me out of the church I had pastored for 20 years. He didn’t give me a new church, or a new ministry, or really any direction. All I knew, as my wife and I prayed and talked and struggled with this, was that it was time to move on.
Before I resigned the church, there were just a few things to finish up. The last of these was a youth mission trip that had been postponed for almost a year. And so, off we went; fifteen of us to the Torre Fuerte girls’ home in Arequipa, Peru.
The name, Torre Fuerte, means “Strong Tower”, and comes from the Bible:
The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
The place is built to reflect its name and its purpose. It looks like a castle, and is a place of refuge for thirty-some girls who have been abused, beaten, abandoned, and shattered. We went to help with a construction project, but found lots of time to get to know these children. Their stories are many and varied, but most would bring you to tears. Many of these kids have been betrayed by the very adults that should have protected them. They need love, guidance, and spiritual healing.
It was here, sitting among these children, that I began to sense that God was calling me to that place. Not only was there a sense of “I ought to”, but also an unexpected “I want to”. It’s as if God was saying, “You’ll do it, and you’ll like it”. Hmmm:
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
So, as I write this, we are planning, if you can call it that, the big move. Selling the house, and almost everything in it. Learning the language. Bracing ourselves for the new adventure. Pray for us when you think of it, will you?