Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Just a Regular Person

Wow! They are so awesome! 

I could never do that. 

They must be just perfect people to be missionaries! 

And on and on in the same thread. I heard the Great Commission from Matthew 28: "Go and make disciples of all nations" often, and was glad to have met the people who did just that, because I knew it didn't mean me.

Those were my words and thoughts, maybe when I was aged 9 or maybe even 12. My family was one of those who went to church regularly, every time the doors were open. My brother and I were taken, not sent. From time to time we had visiting missionaries and if we were really lucky we got to host them for a meal or maybe even for a couple nights.

And now, I am a missionary. 

It is not something I ever planned, dreamed of, or even considered. I'm just a regular person, not overflowing with theology or words of ministry. I'm just me. 

I am not amazing and I'm far from being perfect, but God took my husband and me as we were, and molded our hearts to leave our security and normal lives. We each said "Here am I, send me" (Isaiah 6:8) and were ready to follow Him. And our lives changed in ways we never imagined!

Let me regress many years to early adulthood, nursing school, a full time job, a single life to live. It still included church and God, just not so regularly. 

Later on I was blessed to marry my wonderful husband and, together, our faith grew as we got more involved in church and in small groups. Life was good: we had stable jobs that we liked, travelled when possible, lived close to family and friends, and were completely content. 

We thought we were where we would stay until retirement.

God was watching just as He always is. I believe He was probably scheming, and maybe even chuckling, at the things we said. He knew what was next, and was slowly preparing us. We were totally unaware, just as anyone should be before any big surprise.

One Sunday someone announced a planning meeting for an upcoming mission trip, maybe to China. I was quite interested, since China was on my dream list, and a week or two sounded just right for a mission trip. China didn't work out for us that year, but we did get to go to Uganda. I was hooked then, and thought how great it would be if I could return yearly to show a relationship to the people. But no, that wasn't His plan, either. 

In the meantime, both of my parents passed away, and grief took a while to work through. The only true peace I had was knowing they were with Jesus, and I would get to see them again in Heaven. I know in my heart that God knew our bond, and His plan was to wait until they were both gone to ask me to go.

Time went on, we continued in our normal activities of life, I went on a couple more short term mission trips to various places, while Rick had no desire to go at all. Until... I was finally going to get to go to China and, through works of God, Rick felt led to go, too. The trip was only a month or so away, and was a bit expensive for something so sudden. 

I had been saving for an Alaskan cruise for our 10th anniversary. We felt the mission trip would be a better reason to use the money. (I have never been on that cruise, and my heart still yearns for the opportunity, but I have accepted that I likely never will.) We went, joining a group from Memphis, to give medical/nursing care, veterinary care, and do some agricultural work, all the while looking for openings to share God's word and love. 

China is not a Christian nation and it is not legal to worship God, even in a private home. We knew going in that the almost 1,000 Bibles in Chinese that we took in would be confiscated if found, but the way was clear when we entered the country.

While in China Rick and I worked in different locations and barely saw each other the entire time. As we got into the van to take us to the first airport, we each told the other that we needed talk. 

God had convicted both of us to give our lives completely to Him, and go on the mission field full time. It was such a certainty to us that, in His still, small voice, He called, and we answered yes. He didn't take us to China. He did a bit of a bait and switch, and led us to Nicaragua, a country we love so much.

So, we are just normal people, living in a country we love, serving a God we love, speaking a language we can't completely master, and wearing the title of missionaries. 

We rejoice daily that we were called to step out of the boat, sell everything, and move to this poverty stricken country to share His love in everything we say and do. 

We must ask for donations to support us, live in a house without air conditioning, survive without a microwave, experience cultures that seem odd to us, have water, electricity, and Internet sometimes but we wouldn't have it any other way. 

God is love, He is good, He has his eyes on us always, and we pray that we are just where He wants us to be for the rest of our lives. 

John 15:16 says "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last." That is our goal, the Bible verse that defines our mission here in Nicaragua.
Mary (a registered nurse), and her husband, Rick Irvin (a veterinarian) live and serve Christ in Nicaragua. For more information, comment below or message me. 
#misssions #disciple, MaryRickIrvin, Nicaragua