Jack, I'm not the usual question asker but I see I'm not the only mid-life missions seeker. I went on my first STM trip in July 2006. While in Guatemala, I heard from God - not a usual thing for me. I believe God is calling me to missions work. I went to seminary about 10 years ago and left just short of a Masters degree because I knew that I was not the "pastoral" type. My dilema is that I have a wife and 3 yr old son and my wife has not heard such a call. I am praying for discernment and patience and researching missionary opportunities and life. Since I am doing the important things, what else can I do to figure out if this is a true calling for our family?Thank you.
I appreciate your spiritual sensitivity, Eric, and your desire to do the Lord's will. I agree with you that you are doing important things. However, there may be more. Some suggestions:
1) Your wife's attitude: Since missions wasn't on the horizon when she agreed to marry you, I feel you have a responsibility to give her time and freedom to seek the Lord regarding the possibility of this new step. Most mission agencies would expect that both spouses have a call for mission service, or if not a strong personal call to a mission field, a strong call to follow their husband if the Lord should so lead him. Much depends on your own "couple dynamic," how you are accustomed to make decisions, talk about the Lord's will, pray together, etc.
Even though this may be a surprise for her at this time, if she is in agreement to pray with you about the possibility of this move, is willing to join you in your research, and can see a place where she might fit in, if the Lord is in this, I would expect her to find Him nudging her in this direction.
It may be that the very confirmation of your call from the Lord would be her coming to receive a call herself, on her own terms.
2) Your preparation: What do you plan to do as "missions work?" What have you done for the last 10 years, since you discovered that you weren't the "pastoral" type? Would your wife be happy joining you in this activity?
3) Your friends: I would encourage you to form a close circle of friends who know you both, love you, and love the Lord. If possible, I would encourage you to include your pastor. This group of friends need to listen to you both, learn of your vision, ask you questions, pray with you, and then give you counsel. Should you go to a mission field, this group would be your basic support group, especially spiritually, and perhaps also financially.
4) Your mission agency: Are you in contact with a mission agency? They will have significant advice to give you as you think about the possibility of this change in activity.
May the Lord guide you, Eric. Put your hand in His and He will lead you - and your wife as well.