In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6 WEB)
When Beth and I moved to Kentucky to continue my education, we were not interested in mission work. The word missionary was not in our vocabulary nor was it one of our desires. I attended bible college since we were sure the Lord called us into the ministry. However, I jumped to the wrong conclusion and studied for a pastoral ministry.
I learned about preaching, preparing sermons and the wonders of becoming a pastor. With the pending arrival of our first child I went back to work as a radio engineer. I held the appropriate license, had the experience and it paid the bills.
I worked in radio, studied for the ministry and waited for our first child. Daily life kept Beth and me busy. Along the way a number of missionaries from around the world crossed our path and we discovered they were people, just like other people, only living and working somewhere else. As I studied the Lord made it clear we were not to be in a pulpit ministry. One of my homiletics professors after he heard me preach asked, “Are you sure you want to do this for a living?”
With an engineering background an uncertainty from my homiletics class and a need to determine where God was leading, we decided to at least take a glimpse at mission work. I figured the mission field didn’t need engineers so it was a safe step. Wrong! God showed us several ministries very interested in my training and abilities. Finally we were ready to give in and consider missions. I put my last request before the Lord, “Father, if we are going into missions, I’d really like to stay in the United States.”
I’m convinced that God has a great sense of humor. Guam, as you may know, is a territory of the United States! We got what I prayed for. God moved us into missions and kept us in the “USA” . . . sort of! What a hoot! Here we were headed to Guam, a small dot in the Pacific we could barely find on a map.
I never really liked to travel. My first airplane flight was at the age of twenty-one. I flew from Florida to Cincinnati to attend the wedding of a close friend from high school. It was quite an experience which I’ll never forget. It was during this flight, sitting in an airport terminal, waiting for the next flight that God spoke to me and called me into the ministry. I should have figured there was going to be some relation between airplanes and the ministry.
Compared to that short jump across the US the flight to Guam seemed endless. With two children in arms we traveled seven hours to Hawaii and then another seven hours to find Guam. I think it’s amazing a pilot can locate such a small chunk of rock in the middle of nowhere. I’m reminded of the verse from Revelation, “The sky was removed like a scroll when it is rolled up. Every mountain and island were moved out of their places.” (Revelation 6:14 WEB) Think of the startled face on a pilot flying toward Guam after that happens!
It was still dark when we arrived. Our first glimpse of the island as the plane made its approach revealed a massive number of lights twinkling in the darkness. We couldn’t remember a place with so much wattage devoted to nighttime. We gathered our baggage, departed from the customs area and wondered how anyone would find us. We didn’t know anyone on the island. We didn’t know anyone on the staff. None of the Guam staff knew us. We approached the exit and saw smiling faces holding up a copy of our prayer card.
We walked outside into the tropical night for the first time. Describing the humidity, heat and weight of the tropical climate doesn’t do justice to the impact we felt after hours in the dehydrated atmosphere of the airplane. The relief to find friendly faces, helpful hands and to walk again on shaky legs, was an encouragement as we struggled against the needed sleep and jet lag. We never knew what jet lag was until we crossed fourteen time zones!
We rode down the strange paved streets. They really did have paved roads on the island. The cars appeared normal and there was even a McDonald’s restaurant! The children were thrilled. It was soon clear our meager information concerning Guam was outdated. We envisioned dirt roads, grass huts and half dressed natives with bones in their noses. Instead we found asphalt, island shirts, concrete houses and modern conveniences.
A field of visions whisked by the car windows. We were pleased to find an apartment with a view across the graveyard to the Pacific Ocean. It was beyond our wildest dreams. The mission even provided a temporary car for our use. The new adventure began with a good night’s rest.
Whoever views the Christian life as calm and quiet hasn’t lived long as a believer. Change abounds everywhere. We discovered this on the mission field. What we expected was different from what God provided. It was worth the risk, if we considered following God a risk, to step forward and follow God’s lead to see where He put us.
Guam was not what we envisioned, it was better, far better. God knows what he’s doing. We just need to walk forward, wait and see!