I have a question and I would love your perspective. Just a bit of a background about myself: I am a college senior who has recently been given a heart for both local and global missions. I believe the Lord has given me the gift of teaching. But before any of those were revealed to me, I began to have the desire to marry in my sophomore year of college. I am not currently seeing or interested in anyone, and I'm trying to make sense of these matters on my heart. How do I know where God is leading me?
I have a heart for missions, but I want to be a wife and a stay at home mom, yet I love to teach and disciple. I'm trying to understand if any of this fits in. And I get frustrated when I try to talk about it with other women at my church. They seem to not understand and are pushing me to go off and pursue another degree and/or be a long term foreign missionary. While those are not wrong in and of themselves, I don't want for anyone to push me to do things that I don't necessarily feel called to. I feel like I don't have support when I talk about wanting to be a stay at home mom and a man's wife...they treat it as though it isn't good enough and that I could be doing much more with my time.
I know this is alot, and I'm not even sure of what I'm asking!
Dear “Anonymous,” I am Jack's wife and he has asked me to try and answer your good questions, since so many of your longings are so much a part of my own story
Like yourself, I too had (and have) a heart for missions at home and abroad. I, too, wanted to disciple and teach, and if the Lord led me into marriage and gave us children, I too wanted to be a "stay at home mom." Your question as I understand it is: how can all those things fit together? The short answer is: they can, but not necessarily all at the same time. Here is my story:
As a new Christian, I chose to go to Wheaton and was discipled by a mature and Godly classmate. In my sophomore year I felt God's call to read through the whole of the Bible for the first time, asking Him to show me His will for my life. When I got to Isaiah, I felt and read God's clear call to missions especially through two meaningful
chapters: 42 and 49. I shifted my major to better prepare me to serve the Lord at home or abroad.
When Jack and I met, part of God's confirmation on our relationship was that we shared a similar call and had similar values, but we had no clear sense as to where that might lead us. What we did to do was to ask God to guide our relationship and to show us what He wanted us to do with our lives. We also decided to prepare ourselves spiritually and educationally so that we might have more to give at home or abroad. That decision took Jack to Seminary, and I completed a degree in nursing.
We married, and during Jack's last months at Seminary God's used a fascinating cluster of circumstances to call him to plant a church in a brand new town in Eastern Quebec, a Canadian home mission project. By this time we had two small children and when we moved to the wilds of Eastern Quebec, I was very much a happy and fulfilled "stay-at-home mom." At the same time I was able to use my budding teaching gift teaching Sunday school in our church plant and co-leading the youth group in our home along with Jack.
Sometime during our fourth year in Quebec with both felt an increasingly strong call towards overseas Missions, yet with no clear direction at first. God gently led us to Toronto, where Jack served for two years on the staff of a large downtown church and I continued on as a "stay-at home mom." My first year there was one of great loneliness and suffering for me. We now had three children and for one whole year they went through most of the childhood diseases known to man, one at a time! Jack was often away, since he was commuting to a downtown church. My need drove me to Jesus and in the end, the days of struggle became a time for spiritual renewal and growth. My quiet times deepened and I had a powerful and personal experience with the Holy Spirit. God also deepened our marriage and in so many ways prepared us for the life He would soon call us to in Latin America.
God again gently led us, this time to the Latin America Mission and into student work. I was again able to stay at home when my children were small and then when they were school age, I studied in the National University in Colombia so that I could better witness to students on the inside of the campus. We opened our home for Bible study lunches and students began to come to know Jesus. I had the joy of discipling many precious women who are in ministry today. I also taught in our student group and realized like yourself that I had a gift and interest in teaching.
The years passed, and when our children went to college, I joined them and went to Wheaton Grad School and studied counseling, teaching, and theology. When national leaders took over the student movement and Jack moved into Seminary teaching, to my surprise I was asked to teach too and was now prepared to do so. I enjoyed 10 years of teaching as a full time professor in the Biblical Seminary in Medellin and ten more as a part time teacher, serving with Intervarsity, but going to Colombia year by year.
In your letter you wonder aloud about how you could possibly combine your heart for missions at home and abroad, your longing to be a wife and "stay at home" mother, plus your desire to disciple and teach. As I write you, it is Christmas. The ancients wondered how the prophecies about Jesus could ever be fulfilled in one person: a Nazarene, born in Bethlehem, a descendant of David and yet "to be a son called out of Egypt." We know today how deftly God brought all these puzzle pieces together, just as He will bring the puzzle pieces of your life together as you seek Him, ask Him to lead you, and then listen for His voice and follow His direction and nudges. May God also lead you to a man who has similar longings and a deep love for Jesus and for you as well!
And may God bless you richly as you live into His love and all He has for you
Mary Anne Voelkel