By: Melissa White, CVT, CVM Fieldstaff serving in India
At some point along the way, every missionary has had a “What in the world am I doing here?” moment. Mine happened on my 30th birthday in the middle of a remote desert village that I’m fairly certain had a higher population of camels than people.
I had been on the field for three years and although there had been challenges, I had never really questioned my calling or struggled with being single before. However, months of eating nothing but fatty sheep meat, having constant GI problems, little contact with the outside world, no privacy, no showers, and no one to confide in will quickly bring you to a “What in the world am I doing here?” moment. The reality had finally set in: my life was not “normal” and I was entering my 30’s with little hope of that fact changing.
As the reality of my situation set in I began feeling the waves of self-pity roll over me. “My life is so hard. I’m so lonely. I’m celebrating my birthday alone in a desert eating fat. I’m going to die alone because there is no way I will ever find a man who is crazy enough to share this life with me!” You can see how my thought process quickly digressed from merely having to eat fat to having to die alone! Self-pity has a way of playing to our deepest fears and doubts and slowly taking our focus away from God and placing it solely on ourselves.
That day I was ready to pack up everything and get as far away as I could, but in God’s grace He sent me Chimgee, one of my English students. She didn’t know it was my birthday, but she came to my room that evening and gave me a bouquet of desert wildflowers she had picked. She then invited me to take a walk with her. We ended up hiking up to a high point overlooking the village where she began inquiring about my faith. She shared that no one had ever taken the time to explain Christianity or who Christ is and she was very grateful that I had come to her village that summer to teach English.
As we sat and talked I witnessed the most beautiful sunset I had seen all summer. I felt as though the Lord was saying to me, “I see you. I care about you. You are not alone. I have brought you to this place for a reason and your work here is not finished.” Instantly the self-pity vanished and in its place was the most incredible feeling of sweet surrender and peace. I ended up staying a while longer in that village and witnessed Chimgee, along with 7 others, commit their lives to Christ and start a house church in an area that had previously been untouched by the Gospel.
In my opinion, the greatest thing that holds back those who are single from pursuing overseas ministry is the fear of loneliness and the greater fear of never having a “normal” life or raising a family. I had these exact fears when I first left for the field, and from time to time they surface again, but I am thankful every day that I have never let them hold me back from following God’s call.
Although I have had some lonely and challenging times and my life is far from “normal”, I can honestly say that in every “what am I doing here?” moment, God has personally met me and brought me to a deeper place of surrender and peace. He always seems to bring people into my life at just the right time to encourage and support me when I need it- just like He brought Chimgee that day to pull me out of the abyss of self-pity that I was sliding into. He will do the same for you if you are willing to fully surrender your fears, desires, and dreams to Him and follow Him down the path He has for you. The path He leads you on may not be the “normal” life you had always envisioned for yourself, but I guarantee you won’t regret the journey.