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How did God call you to mission?

I grew up in a mission-minded church in Australia. Missionaries visited our church regularly and all of July was devoted to mission. During that month, we had a guest missionary at each of our morning services, and often in the all-age Sunday School too. After worship, we had a bring-and-share lunch and a talk from the missionaries afterwards. I remember once, when I was about seven, being dressed up in Sunday School in a traditional Korean dress by a missionary with OMF. (I’m still in touch with this now-retired missionary and she’s one of our prayer supporters.)

Through all this I figured that ordinary people could be missionaries and had a general feeling that maybe I would be a missionary one day too. In the middle of high school, I decided I wanted to study something practical at university, something I could use on the mission field. I chose and got into Occupational Therapy.

Then I just got on with life. After I graduated from high school I moved out of home to go to university. While studying I connected with other Christians on campus, served as a part of a local church, and volunteered as a leader on youth camps. But halfway through my four-year degree it was as if God jolted me and asked (though not audibly), “So, you were headed towards mission, but what are you doing about that now?” So, I took action. I applied to go on a summer short-term missions study tour with OMF to Southeast Asia.

I think I expected a sudden bolt of lightning on this six week tour, but it didn’t happen. However, I learned a huge amount about mission and myself. I especially learned that mission wasn’t glamorous and had little to do with the child-like understanding that I’d acquired from my childhood.

I returned to Australia with a year left of my degree and then, after graduation, knowing that I needed work experience, I got an Occupational Therapy job. A very lonely job in a country town of less than 10,000 people. This was a desert-type experience that gave me an inkling of the loneliness that I would probably experience as a missionary. A wise, older friend asked me after that first year of working what God was saying to me about mission. My very spiritual response was that I didn’t want to go unmarried. His unexpected reply was that we’d better get praying for a man!

Less than a year later I began to go out with the man who is now my husband (how we got together is another long story, but we “properly” met on the short-term trip with OMF). While we dated we determined that we were both prepared to go wherever God led us, but we didn’t specifically talk about mission.

It was only after we were married and were we searching for the What Next in our lives that we ended up at a Missions Conference. There we were challenged by the speaker saying, “Is there anything you’re doing here that is indispensable?” Later that man’s wife admitted that was a slightly devious question. But it’s what tipped us over the edge. It was at that conference that we began to apply to a mission agency. I was 25.

It’s a long, rambling story. One that isn’t unusual if you ask missionaries how God guided them into mission. God gently led me for many years, whispering in my ear at key moments, until it was the right time to say a definite “yes” to missions.

The next post is about the steps I took in preparation for coming to Japan as a missionary.

By Wendy Marshall

Photo by Ush Sawada

Wendy is an Australian who has been in Japan with OMF since 2000. She’s married to David who teaches maths and science at the Christian Academy in Japan. She’s an editor and writer. In this nine-part series she answers searching questions about her experience of life and ministry as a missionary.

Read all the posts in the series:

Missionary Calling

How did God call you to mission?

Preparing for the mission field

How did God lead you into your current ministries?

What’s your ministry in Japan?

My experience of culture shock

What’s difficult about living in Japan?

How do you maintain spiritual zeal?


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