The Obstacle Course

 

Patricia's tentmaking experience as meant one obstacle after another.  But follow each bold-face fact as God turns it into His opportunity for others' blessing and her growth.

 

The question hung over me more than I liked. What kind of mission could I have here?  I spent a lot of my work time alone in a lab.  The feeling of frustration was just within arm's reach day after day.  This was not even close to my dream of being a tentmaker.  

After getting my engineering degree as a Waldensian student* I was told there was very little chance I could ever break into such a competitive market, but I decided to apply.  I just wanted to give God a chance to open something up--if that's what He wanted for me.  To my shock, I got a job offer.  I thought my dream of being an engineer and a missionary at the same time had come true!!
 
But I learned right away that being a tentmaker is a lot different than being a student.  First of all, I realized I was working with people who were on a completely different track than I’m on.   I was working for a very different purpose than my colleagues. Everyone around me was living for money; I was there for mission.  What kind of mission could I have here?  The question weighed on me more than I liked.  On top of that, I also spent a lot of my work time alone in a lab.  The feeling of frustration was just within arm's reach day after day.  I was not even close to my dream of being a tentmaker.

I knew I had spiritual conversations with a few people, and I had colleagues thank me, saying they know they have things to learn from me. I was grateful, but I still didn’t feel like I was doing that much.

I especially wondered what impact we were having when my husband and I looked at our mission goals and realized it was already the end of our first year—and we hadn’t reached very many of our goals!  We had envisioned having at least a small group of friends meeting in our home by the end of the year. So we prayed about it. We wondered what to do. We prayed some more.

A few days later  Daniel was speaking to an indigenous friend and casually invited him to come to our home Friday evening for a prayer moment.  He pulled out his phone and began scrolling. “Oh, I have this friend who would like to come.  (Pause) And this other friend.  (Pause) And here’s another friend who would come too.”

They all came that first Friday evening.  We shared some precious time together for several weeks. We saw God working. Then suddenly the friend who had connected us all together moved out of town; the others weren't interested any more.  The whole beautiful experience ended as fast as it had begun!  We were so disappointed.  Then we began thanking God for the opportunity we had had to influence, to grow ourselves.  Our contact was brief, but we have chosen to claim the promise that God continues to work in their lives.  Now we can only pray for them, but that exercise alone is helping us grow in our faith.

Because of continued frustration in obtaining necessary documents from my company, I wondered if God really wanted me even to be working there.  I prayed and prayed.  I decided to randomly send out my CV and let Him answer that way.  I continued working my best—and forgot about looking for other possibilities.

Months later, a company responded, the position sounded challenging with lots of people contact, the salary was higher, the office never opened on Saturdays, and my work papers were immediately available.  I was even more amazed at the offer because the position wasn’t even in my field.  I had no experience or requisite training for this new job.  What in the world did God have in mind?

Once again, my husband and I prayed.  In a most meaningful way, God confirmed to us it was time to change.  My new job has nothing to do with engineering, but it has a lot to do with people. One challenge, though, is that I have to use Turkish.  I have to speak it. I have to write in it.  I have to relate professionally.  But, I can be thankful for that too!  I will be bilingual.  And I see countless opportunities to share God with those around me. 

I’ve met two very tall hurdles, though, in the process of the change.  First, nobody is interested in spiritual things. When I try to suggest a spiritual thought, I get no response.  But I’ve realized that gives me reason to pray even more!  Second, the work environment is extremely busy.  There's a lot of yelling, constant fights, a great deal of stress in order to push people to fulfill deadlines.  But again, I’ve realized it drives me to rely on God to remain calm and to have wisdom.  I’ve seen Him give me what I need day by day.

I’ve begun to hear comments like, “Wow! You haven’t freaked out yet?”  “How can you be calm in this situation?”  “How did you get them to get done in time without yelling?”  And then, this week I knew God was working when I heard, not to my credit but His, “You are different than the others. You are humble.”

Praise God.  Every hurdle has helped me see Him working more clearly, every challenge has called me to rely more on Him.  And my faith has strengthened as I've watched Him take every situation and turn it into His opportunity.  --LO

 

*The Waldensian Student Initiative is coordinated the Middle East & North Africa Union with the purpose of placing and supporting college and university students for mission on campuses across the region. 

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