July, August and September all have important dates for me as far as my Christian life. I was appointed an ABWE missionary in July of 2005, saved August 12, 1987 and then we arrived in Brazil for career missions September 26, 2008.
All of them represent God's sovereign work in my life in making me who I am. We do not control where or to whom we are born. God placed me in a loving Christian household where the gospel was displayed to me since I was born. I don't know the percentage on that happening, but I imagine babies have less than a 5% chance they will be born into that type of home.
The year I was saved we lived in a house behind a church where we simply had to walk across the parking lot to get to church. After taking that short walk back home one night after church I talked with my mom about salvation and decided to follow Christ. When I was still a child my parents highlighted the importance of missions by going to Mexico for a couple weeks for health clinics (my dad is a doctor) and then two month and six month trips with their 7 children to the Amazon in Brazil. It was not hard to see that earthly riches were not my parent's life goal. They showed by their actions the importance of serving God no matter the difficulty or cost. Being a missionary is because I am a victim of my past and God's sovereign work in my life.
I love preaching on Philippians 1:6; God is completing a good work in us! I cannot forget that He is doing that in my life as well. If it were up to me I probably would have many hurt relationships due to anger problems, but fortunately God has placed people with wisdom in my path to point out my faults and how to correct them. God has grown our circle of influence by leading us to many different places whether they be churches for a day, internships for a couple months, or some cities for years. Deep relationships have developed that have taught me so much.
Different missionaries have been in my life that have taught me what to do and what not to do and they continue to be there as I continue to learn. Ed Gibson was a popular speaker for missions conferences and taught about being Jesus to the people; simple missions. Roy Seals and Doug Hodges were my missions profs in college who taught me so much and who never really left the mission field even though they were still in a position to influence college students. They both constantly re-think how we do missions and are passionate about more people hearing of God's glory. In South Brasil several missionaries showed us what starting churches looked like. I especially liked their sport's ministries. Al Yoder is a machine that goes non-stop. Chip Philips is as well and has shown me to never stop learning. Lloyd and Athena Peace have shown me true love and friendship. Now we are with Roger and Marcy Smith who have given us much wisdom in church planting. They have had to have patience with us and have calmly shown us what church planting takes.
God never intended for us to live the Christian life alone. He places a cloud of witnesses around us that show His path. We can do and do and take credit or we can listen, learn, grow and give glory to God for what is accomplished through us. I praise God that He has allowed me to be a victim of my surroundings and has sustained us where we are at today.
Never take for granted what God is doing in your life. He gives us difficult times, different mentors, and unusual ways of spiritual growth, but is present through it all with the goal of our conformity to the image of His Son. Praise the Lord for His work in our lives!