5 Minutes with MaryKate Morse

Urbana sat down with MaryKate Morse as she prepares for Urbana 15 to get to know her a little more beyond what’s listed in her bio. Here’s what she had to say:

When you hear missions, what comes to mind?

My thinking about the word missions has evolved. As a young person I thought it meant going someplace and doing something cross culturally, even to another people group, or in another country. But now I think of missions much more broadly, and I think of it as being part of God’s Kingdom work wherever you are. We are the incarnation presence of Christ, we have a mission to be God’s presence, God’s priests, God’s prophets, whatever it needs to be, to whomever and wherever God places us.

It’s a completely different mindset for me. I have to be on alert to the Spirit all the time. That doesn’t mean I have to talk to everybody on an airplane but sometimes I have to say, Lord, I’m willing to be present to what you’re doing in this space, whatever space I’m in. Help me to see..

I think in our Western culture we have a production orientation to our days. We’re supposed to produce things and do things. In our minds, we construct what that looks like and heads toward it. The only problem with that is we’re not really particularly attuned to what God might be doing in that space. Mission and being missional is submitting yourself to what might be going on spiritually in that very same space. I can be about my day but also be trying to listen and be submissive to what God is doing.

I think in our Western culture we have a production orientation to our days. We’re supposed to produce things and do things. In our minds, we construct what that looks like and heads toward it. The only problem with that is we’re not really particularly attuned to what God might be doing in that space. Mission and being missional is submitting yourself to what might be going on spiritually in that very same space. 

Can you share a story from your life that has been a milestone on your missional journey?

I do have one story in particular, but I will say I continue to be impressed with how the Spirit creates moments in our lives to remind us about what really matters. Often now for me it is other people’s stories.

But I think probably one of my most defining moments is… well, I fell in love and married a man (Randy is his name) who didn’t have a call to missions. And I had a very finite view of missions at the time because I think it meant to be a missionary. And I really wrestled with God whether I should marry Randy or not because he wasn’t called; he was definitely against it. But I trusted the Lord and married him. And we’d been married about two years when he came home one day and he said, “What would you think if we went to La Paz, Bolivia or Juliaca, Peru and worked in missions?”

Just out of the blue?

Yes. Out of the blue. He says, “What would you think about that?” Come to find out he had been approached by a pastor because they were having a need on a mission field in the Andes Mountains around Lake Titicaca. And he came to Randy and said, “Randy, I think you’re supposed to go there.” Randy wrestled with that for a while. But then God asked if he would stand in the gap, and Randy replied that he could and then came and asked me.

And of course, I was absolutely ecstatic. I thought I had died and gone to heaven; the universe had fallen into order. I was so happy. I was so blessed. I was just really fulfilled. Very happy. Um. And then...

We started that process, and I remember one day—I’m pregnant with my second child and I’m there in my little house. And I’m washing dishes. I’m at the sink, having a conversation with God. I said, “God, I’m just so excited to be going!”

And God said, “Well, you know, when you go to mission field, you won’t have your family and friends, so you will be up there by yourself. Are you still willing to go?” I’m young at the time, so I don’t think I need family and friends. That would have been a more serious question today, but at the time I thought, Yeah, sure. I can do that.

And then God said, “Well, uh, when you go, you won’t have any conveniences. You won’t have running water. You won’t have electricity. You won’t have these things. It will be hard. Are you still willing to go?” I thought Well, yes. I’m still willing to go. I’m still fairly positive.

And then the Lord said, “Well, uh, what about your health? You’ll be far from medical care. You could get very sick. You could ruin your health for your entire life. Are you still ready to go?” And then I’m thinking, That’s true.

He also said, “And what if you go and nobody receives this, and they’re against this, and they’re hostile? Will you go?” And it was taking longer to say yes, but I did.

Then the Lord said, “There’s still one more question: What about your children? What if they should get sick? What if they should die? Will you still go?” By then, I’m just weeping and weeping. And I’m thinking, Don’t ask me these things! Don’t ask me these things. I did say yes, but that became a defining moment in my life, when God asked, “Do you trust me? How much do you trust me?”

Then the Lord said, “There’s still one more question: What about your children? What if they should get sick? What if they should die? Will you still go?” By then, I’m just weeping and weeping. And I’m thinking, Don’t ask me these things! Don’t ask me these things. I did say yes, but that became a defining moment in my life, when God asked, “Do you trust me? How much do you trust me?”

And, you know, all those things happened. I didn’t lose a child, but I had one that was very, very ill because of where we lived. We had people throw rocks at us, shoot at us. We were separated, isolated. Not like it is today. There’s no way to get in touch with family and friends. I got sick. Everything happened. But there was a peace about me because I knew that I had stood at that kitchen sink with God. And I had this awareness that God would be with me and that in God’s plan everything will be fine. He prepared me, so when all these things went south, I was at peace.

Not that I wasn’t praying for my child to get better and all that sort of thing. But it was a completely different space. And I learned to carry that into all of my life, not just when I’m in some foreign country but to carry that into my life that wherever I am, no matter how dark or bad it is. But in everything, do I trust God to be God? Which is why prayer matters to me.

What are you hopes for students coming to Urbana?

My prayer and hope is that each person that comes will feel a part of something bigger. So not just This is my thing, I got to figure it out, but part of this great thing that God is doing. That they’ll be able to hear the voice of the Spirit for their life and that they’ll feel embraced and sent. And that somewhere in all this great feast of many, many things, they will find the little basket of things that they are supposed to take home that will help them in the next step of their life.

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