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Not if, but how

An OMF associate coming to the end of three years service reflects on how God led him to long-term missions.

Hudson Taylor. Jim Elliot. William Carey. The stories of these famous missionaries’ lives have inspired many by their faith and sacrifice. Growing up in a Christian family in Germany, Tobi Krick heard the stories, too, and found them fascinating. But it wasn’t until his college years that Tobi began to think he, too, could be a missionary.

Up to that point, Tobi thought the missionary task was only for the especially holy. The more he read the Scriptures, though, the more he came to see that the task was for him, as well as every other Christian in some form.

“I believe everybody has this call,” Tobi said. “It’s just in the Bible. I think everybody has the duty to ask what way they should be involved in missions.”

‘Going for it’

As Tobi, now 26, and his wife Ena began to ask God how they should be involved, they decided to pursue a role in full-time cross-cultural ministry. The couple had recently finished their studies in nursing. They didn’t have any children, nor too many possessions yet. In Tobi’s words, “it was time to go for it.”

“We felt very free,” he said. “It didn’t feel like a big sacrifice in the moment. Looking back, it feels bigger.”

Once they decided to serve overseas, they had to figure out how to get there. The couple did a Google search for mission agencies in East Asia and found OMF. They found others, too, of course, but OMF “just responded in the right way,” said Tobi.

“OMF said, ‘We as a team will pray for you to make the right decision.’ They took it quite seriously. That was an attitude we liked, that we could go with.”

Initially, the Kricks wanted to go to Cambodia, but the opportunity didn’t materialize. They then considered the Philippines and Thailand. Since they were going as Associates (serving 1-3 years), they eventually settled on the Philippines because the language study time would be shorter and they could get involved with local ministry sooner.

Facing challenges

From the time they inquired about serving with OMF to the time they left for the Philippines, it was only a few months, a somewhat unusually fast track for most missionaries. Still, the Kricks faced challenges as they prepared to go.

Their main obstacle was getting the required medical clearance to go to East Asia. Shortly after they decided to serve with OMF, Tobi developed a debilitating skin disease. Eventually, in December 2014, he had to quit his nursing job in Germany because of the disease. Doctors initially told Tobi that it would be impossible for him to serve overseas.

Tobi and Ena, along with their church, began to pray. Tobi’s skin problems improved dramatically. In the meantime, God had used the experience to solidify the Kricks’ supporters to get behind them more fully.

East Asia bound

The Kricks arrived in the Philippines in September 2015. Their initial assignment was in Samar, where OMF was working in an area devastated by Typhoon Yolanda in 2013. After six months of language study, Tobi and Ena quickly became involved in ministry, working with the youth and sometimes preaching to a small Sunday fellowship.

It wasn’t long before the amount of work expanded. Several of their team members went on home assignment. The Kricks found themselves working with three different villages in the area, leading Bible studies for adults and children. It was a difficult time for them, but God was faithful. Tobi can now say he is thankful for the experience because it gave them a “very genuine picture of missions, not just nice fun side.”

Despite feeling overwhelmed at times, the Kricks saw God moving among the people in the Samar villages. Most of the people who first came to one of their Bible studies were women, but there was one man who came regularly, though he was very shy and seemed disinterested in the study. Over the course of two years, he slowly changed. Shortly before the Kricks left Samar, the man came to the study and brought five other men with him. Not only that, but he was also talking, praying, and sharing the gospel with those around him. “To see this guy who was so shy do a complete 180, that was encouraging,” said Tobi.

The Kricks are spending their final months in the Philippines serving at the OMF guest home in Manila. As he reflects on their three years overseas with OMF, Tobi says he now sees ministry as “loving other people rather than doing the tasks we needed to do“ and now understands the importance of serving the Lord in the way God has gifted him. In other words, “Be who you are in ministry. Use what God gave you in ministry,” Tobi said.

Perhaps the most important lesson learned is one that Christians everywhere must continually learn. In the midst of the most difficult times during their years in Samar, the Kricks were reminded of how important it is to have a deep connection with God.

“It just wasn’t possible to do it without God, even though we tried,” Tobi said. “It was too much for us. It was more than we could do, really. But God showed up and showed us how big he is, that he is greater and bigger and more beautiful than we thought.”

The Kricks will return to Germany in a few months. After completing their home assignment time reconnecting with supporters, Tobi plans to go to medical school and be a doctor. They have no definite plans to return to East Asia as full-time missionaries, but they still expect to play a role in seeing the gospel spread to the nations.

“It will be hard to not be involved in it,” Tobi said. “It’s not really about if we should be involved in world missions; it’s just the question of how.”

Will you pray for those on the journey to long-term missions?

Give thanks for how God has faithfully led the Kricks – pray he will continue to lead them  as they return to Germany.

Pray for others on the journey to long-term missions as they deal with issues as Tobi and Ena did. Pray those on the journey would find that God is at work in the waiting and in the process.

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