Gaining confidence in call and vision
By Matt and Cristellle Nicholas
Matt and Cristelle recently went on a short-term mission trip, and received confirmation that they should return overseas in a long-term capacity. Here, they share a little of how that unfolded…
As the plane began descending, we looked down through the window. Crusty old fishing boats were packed liked sardines on the water, and fog hung low over the land, not so silently hiding the pollution. “That water should be blue like the tropics,” I said to my husband. We were on our way to the Philippines. This had been a long- awaited trip, interwoven into our plans for long term mission.
Both my husband and I had felt a call to mission as teenagers. On our first date, Matt (my now-husband) had sat me down and told me that he was going to be a missionary in Russia and I needed to think through that if I was going to date him. Earlier in my teens, I had felt God challenge me to be willing to go wherever he sent me, but the journey of getting to the mission field had not at all been what we had expected.
The dream of Russia had been strong for Matt. Cristelle was unsure about that region but sought to trust God. We had talked to lots of mission agencies searching out a way to get there. At every enquiry, Russia had turned out not to be an option. With much soul-searching prayer, and seeing Paul being prevented from carrying out certain missionary plans at times, Matt started accepting the doors were closed for us there, at least in the foreseeable future. In the meantime, we had both gained qualifications and work experience in our respective fields. Matt was also well on his way to gaining a degree in theology.
Now six years into being married we were on a plane to the Philippines. God had radically redirected us to pursue this country as a mission field. Cristelle had been elated when Matt had suddenly appeared from his quiet time saying that he felt God was redirecting us to the Philippines. We had talked to our church, friends and our wise and godly parents sharing this felt understanding of God’s redirection. They had been supportive and had shared wisdom with us.
We had initially thought that we would just hop on a plane and go to the Philippines for the long stint that God was calling us to. However, our pastors and Cristelle’s parents (both previously overseas missionaries) strongly advised that we investigate various mission agencies and visit in the Philippines before we pack our bags long term. We were slowly persuaded this was a good idea. They both contributed financially to enable our trip too.
So now we were on the plane. We were met at the airport by a family friend and missionary, Pastor Alex. The heat was stifling, especially for Cristelle’s pregnant body. But we were prepared and trusted God. On the first day, Matt had wondered how we would do it. He felt the Lord nudge him, saying, don’t rush to conclusions, it is going to get better. In the next few days we started relaxing, having some great conversations about God, as well as connecting with the people and the place. We were also really encouraged by the story of Alex’s spiritual opposition in his early days coming to the Philippines.
Some of the other cold turkey meetings with missionaries we had emailed took courage but were super-duper encouraging. It was a great privilege to see different missionaries doing different things. We loved the way we could chat with each missionary about the culture and about each other’s work there. They each gave such different perspectives, and amidst these we started to get a stronger idea about what we thought and in which direction we might be best suited.
As a result of our visiting, and in line with a timely prophetic word given from NZ, we felt God directing us to apply to go with OMF. We wanted to also work alongside Alex, but unfortunately that duality has not worked out. We believed that through our short- term trip, God would either confirm his direction or direct us elsewhere, and he did.
The impact our short trip had on our church relationships and sharing of God’s story in our lives had been huge. We gained a greater appreciation concerning the value of prayers of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We learned to trust the advice of godly, experienced people more. And, we gained confidence in our sense of call and vision. Pivotal in helping shape and direct our long-term missional plans, we feel very blessed to have had this opportunity for a short-term mission trip.
This article originally appeared in our October/November 2018 edition of Serving Asia magazine. If you would like to sign up for more articles, stories and testimonies, enter your details below: