Hello Jack, God called me ...

Sydney asked:

Hello Jack, God called me to two things at the age of thirteen...missions and engineering. I have over the years participated in local mission opportunities and short-term mission trips within the United States.

As for the engineering, I am currently pursuing a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and plan to also get my M.S. in Mechanical Engineering. I have worked three engineering internships: one in academic research, one in project implementation at a nuclear power plant, and this summer I worked in a corporate setting doing research. None of those jobs seemed like what God wants me to do long-term. I don't really care about making money. I have a huge heart for people in need, both their physical and spiritual needs. I think God has called me to help these people. The question I have been wondering is "Where"?

I am positive that God is calling me overseas, but I don't know exactly where overseas.

I am currently dating a wonderful Christian guy who is an international student at my college. He also believes he is called to missions, specifically for the discipleship of the "lukewarm" Christians. He is from Peru and believes that he will ultimately end up back in Peru.

My boyfriend and I prayed and listened to God a lot before we changed our relationship from friendship to dating. We both believe that our relationship is a God-blessed relationship that might very well lead to marriage. But my boyfriend has encouraged me to make sure of where God is calling me before we really think more about marriage.

We both are very firm in that God comes first, and our relationship comes second when it comes to order of importance. I do not believe in coincidence. I believe that God allows or makes everything happen for His purpose. So I have wondered if God is revealing to me where I am called to through this relationship with my boyfriend. Maybe He is calling me to Peru? But I want to make sure that it is a desire from God rather than just a desire to be with my boyfriend.

Can you give me any advice on this?

  • How can I know for sure where God is calling me to?
  • What if I don't feel a calling to any particular location?

I thank you for your time and advice.

In Christ,

Sydney

Jack Answered:

Thanks, Sydney, for sharing so openly aspects of your personal life.  I admire your constancy in continuing to pursue the call you received as a young teen-ager.  Also your determination to invest your life in serving God rather than just making money.  It’s refreshing to “meet” a young couple obviously in love, who have put a higher priority on finding God’s will for their lives.  Convictions like these are fundamental in finding God’s will.

I am curious as to how you received the double call to engineering and missions.  How did, and do, you see these two working together?  Were you impressed with the need for people skilled in mechanical engineering as a foundation for cross cultural mission?  These questions are important in terms of understanding what you see yourself doing one day as a missionary, possibly in Perú.

As for a place of service, I really think this is a secondary matter.  The first record of missionaries specifically called by God to leave a church and engage in cross-cultural mission is found in Acts 13:1-3.  The five leaders of the young church in Antioch heard the Spirit telling them to “set apart for Me Paul and Barnabas for the work to which I have called them.”  The call was to the Lord Himself and His service, not to a specific place, and as the record continues we discover that they end up serving in many places.  However, they knew to whom they were responsible and what they were to do.

For this reason, the primary call for both of you is to the Lord. What you both plan to do is also important, however, and that is something He wants to show you.  The place, I feel, is secondary.  (And following the pattern of Paul and Barnabas, it is interesting to observe that Barnabas took Paul to his home island as a starting place!)

Therefore, it would be of interest to me what your boyfriend plans to do when he returns home and how your interests and training will combine with his to give you a compatible if not a united ministry.  (What is he studying? Does he have a specific call?)

Since I would assume that you expect to have a spiritual ministry as well as possibly exercising your knowledge of mechanical engineering, it may be wiser for you to spend a year or so studying Bible, Theology, Missions, and even anthropology (to prepare you for fitting into a new, foreign culture), rather than immediately moving on to a graduate degree in Mechanical Engineering.  If you go to Perú, and it becomes obvious that a graduate degree would open doors for ministry (such as teaching, where you would both have prestige as a professor and also an opportunity to meet and interact with students), you could always either do so in Perú (where it would be much less expensive and more relevant to the local context) or return to the U.S. for a kind of “furlough”.  By then, you both may have decided that other studies would be more relevant.  Bible, Theology, Missions, and Anthropology would always be relevant.

I have observed many cross-cultural marriages, including that of my daughter who married a Colombia physician.  Some women, particularly, have found it helpful to observe the man they have fallen in love with in his home culture before getting married.   Since this issue wasn’t part of your original question I’ll not say more but would welcome questions if you would like to pursue this subject.

Blessings on you both!  May the Lord continue to guide your relationship and lead you to “the work to which He has called you.”

Jack

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