An Unexpected Turn of Events

5 Mar 2020

Heading overseas with graduate qualifications and years of experience in healthcare, I was certain God would use these skills in the developing world.  Little did I know that the Lord had other plans… from the time that I touched down overseas, He slowly but surely began to steer me and my family into an entirely different ministry.

Yes, healthcare was a start to my journey. But to communicate with the people I was working amongst, I first needed to invest in learning their language.  My high school interest in learning German and Russian gave me the perfect background to this language study and I immersed myself in it.  I was motivated by the desire to communicate the Good News in the heart language of those to whom I was called.  This language study, together with experiences teaching my own heart language to those desperate to travel to the West, planted within me seeds to re-qualify in the linguistics field. An initial 1-month CELTA certificate opened the doors for five years of teaching experience, which eventually led me to undertake a Master of Applied Linguistics.  This higher qualification presented opportunities to work closely with those relocating to countries such as ours.  After another few years of teaching in a university overseas, my family followed the migration route ‘home’!

On arriving back in Australia, we found the Lord had perfectly prepared (gifted) us to reach university students from the same region we had been serving in, but now living in our homeland.  As their teacher, I can form natural connections with the international students.  In their eyes, there is legitimacy to our relationship, which is invaluable for establishing trust.  My personal experience and knowledge of their language, culture, and home countries are added gifts from God, gifts which enable me and my family to build genuinely warm, trusting relationships with people who so often feel unwelcome here.

Sometimes it is easy to feel like we don’t have as practical or useful a ‘gift’ to offer as someone else, but my story shows that even a hobby or casual interest can be the beginning of so much more.  If we are willing to give what we have (even the smallest gifts and abilities), and are open to His guidance, He will multiply our offering.  Our Father truly does know the plans He has for us (Jeremiah 29:11).  I thought I’d prepared thoroughly for healthcare work, but He used a simple enjoyment of languages to launch an academic career that would open the doors to a completely different demographic group.

So how about you?  What pastime or ‘hidden’ talent might you have that you never imagined could be any more than that, something that only needs to be entrusted to the Lord for use in cross-cultural ministry.  I still don’t feel particularly gifted, but after willingly going, I have experienced the Lord’s ‘upskilling’ for the task at hand. As we give ourselves to the Lord’s work, we can expect Him to connect us with those He has been preparing to win to Himself, for His Glory (Ephesians 2:10).

– P, a Pioneers worker serving at university level.

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