I grew up with a vivid picture of doing something special for God. My husband and I have always held missions close to our hearts. In fact, we wouldn’t be living in the Middle East if we hadn’t felt God had given us a unique opportunity to help others who serve in this region.
Yes, we packed up almost everything we own--which isn’t much, since we haven’t been married that long! My husband found employment where he could contribute to a Christian institution. We settled into the challenges of a different culture, a different world, and the rewards of making a difference to the people around us. Isn’t that mission enough?
Yes, it was enough for us to begin an adventurous journey, but it wasn’t all God had in mind.
One day my husband and I came across an intriguing talk online about the tremendous potential of New Testament tentmaking. Of course, I knew the story of Paul and his business. In fact, my husband and I had always been very supportive of our many friends who had committed themselves to serving God even as they made a living. But the presentation spoke directly to him.
He felt called to be a tentmaker himself!
He heard the need for committed families to launch deep into the indigenous community, and he wanted to respond. He felt a calling to be fully immersed in the lives of those who would never know about Jesus unless someone went to live among them!
So, after research, prayer, and long discussions together, he applied to numerous jobs in different countries in the region. Only two responded—both in the same, closed country, with big changes for us, our families, and our work.
After an encouraging phone interview, we decided to visit the organization where he had applied. It was a great visit. We felt the city was very livable and my husband connected well with the organization. He accepted their offer. We saw God leading us in very clear ways. We shared our decision with our families back home.
Then I got cold feet.
I started to worry about where we would live. About learning another dialect of an indigenous language. I started to worry about being isolated. There was no church in the city where we would be living. I especially like interacting with fellow belivers.
My worries seemed to snowball.
I shared my concerns with my husband one morning. We prayed earnestly together. But I knew these were things I needed to wrestle through personally with God. I decided to fast and pray for the rest of that day for God to confirm His will in our decision to launch out as tentmakers.
To feed my mind with some godly perspectives, I began searching for something to read. God led me to the following quote in Christian Service by Ellen White:
“If families would locate in the dark places of the earth, places where the people are enshrouded in spiritual gloom, and let the light of Christ’s life shine out through them, a great work may be accomplished. Let them begin their work in a quiet, unobtrusive way…” (pg. 183).
It was reassuring. It gave me direction. I felt God was at least encouraging our desire.
A few hours later my phone rang. My dad was calling from the other side of the world. He was anxious to share that he had had a divine appointment at work! Now, my dad’s workplace does not really have much ethnic diversity. That's why he was very impressed he had met a woman from the exact city and country to which we were planning to move. Seven thousand miles away, she was the only person from that country my dad had ever met--at a time we were considering where God wanted us to serve Him, on a day I was fasting in praying, because I longed for an indication that God was leading us to that country, that city, at that time.
I listened, amazed. I thanked my dad for letting God use him. I shared what his call meant to me. When I hung up, I realized God had warmed my cold feet! My husband and I are still praising God for the simple signpost He gave us just when we needed it to point to the very place He wanted us to be.
This is my testimony. This is our confidence. God is prepared to lead us to where He wants, and to do what He needs:
“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all of your way acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
If God is calling you to work as a tentmaker in the MENA region, trust in God, take a leap of faith. He in turn will be more than faithful to direct your paths. --MW