Taking the Step

It’s a long journey between that first impression of a mission call and when you finally stand in the doorway of your new “home,”  6,000 miles from anything familiar. But God leads patiently, works through red tape, and graciously leads each decision to follow Him. Maddy, a new MENA tentmaker, is close enough to the process to remember what it has taken, and to assure others that God will make a way…when it is His will.
MENA Tentmaking Initiative:  First of all, welcome to MENA!  We know everything around you is new, and the adventure has just begun.  But it’s remarkable how easily the details have fallen into place for you!  Many tentmaking positions can take years in the making.  How did it happen so quickly?
Maddy:  Even though I saw God working very fast at points, it began nearly three years ago. I took a study tour to the Middle East over the Christmas holidays. During the tour I felt strongly impressed that God was calling me to serve here.  Of course, none of us ever know the time frames or details of God’s plans, but it was a distinct impression.  I knew it was the beginning of something. 
TI:  Did you do anything with your “impression?”
Maddy:  Not really.  I graduated and accepted my first teaching job. I even signed a two-year contract with my employer.  But fast-forward 18 months.  While I was with my family for Christmas holidays, I decided to watch the Generation of Youth for Christ congress going on across the country.  Somehow I found myself listening to a presentation a missionary had given at the congress the year before about the needs in the Middle East.  Hearing that call for a second time, I made a commitment to serve in the Middle East.  I knew that’s what God was preparing me to do, I just didn’t know when and under what circumstances it would happen! 
TI:  So, God stepped in and began working?
Maddy:  Of course I had to think some things through first!  I made a list of the things that I would have to give up in order to go overseas.  I’m sure everyone’s list wouldn’t be like mine.  But some of it was tough:  Living in a familiar comfort zone, being close to family and friends, having church-employment with great benefits, having a social life with the prospect of a relationship, marriage, or even beginning a family.  I had to trust it all into God’s care. 
TI:  But for all the big issues you left with God, we noticed you were unusually proactive in preparing yourself too!
Maddy:  Well, I began looking into MENA’s tentmaking initiative, because that’s what the missionary had talked about.  That meant finding employment in the public job market and serving as a self-supporting missionary—a totally new experience for a church employee like me.  I visited the Total Employment (TE) website and read as much as I possibly could.  I know from my earlier short-term mission experiences that you can't just land in a region, a culture with no thought or information.  I talked to my family.  I sensed God’s leading.  But I only knew one step at a time!  Of course, one of those steps meant sending in my CV and filling out the Total Employment Info to MENA’s tentmaking initiative.  And I prayed.  A lot.  And I remember the times you prayed with me.
TI:  So how did MENA get this job for you?
Maddy:  They didn’t!  We make our own contacts; MENA TE has a great support system for the process, but employers really want to deal directly with any potential employee.  The CV and TE Info I shared with MENA was simply the best way for us to get acquainted so you could help me walk through the process.  We communicated back and forth for several months, over and over again.  And we prayed together each time.  The Total Employment staff didn’t seem sure what a I could do in MENA, because I'm young, just out of college, with not a lot of experience. It really didn’t look likely. But we prayed anyway.
TI:  So how do you look for employment when you’re on the other side of the world?
Maddy:  Well, like many job searches these days, I started online. I spent hours upon hours filling out applications to schools all over MENA.  I mean lots of them, for different positions, in different countries.  To everyone’s surprise, I ended up with four interviews in four different countries.
TI:  Let me add the perspective of the Total Employment staff right here!  After the interview with you, I shared with one of our MENA tentmakers that you were looking for a job and wondered if he could give your name to his employer.  For some reason, we decided against trying to make things happen.  And we didn’t need to.  The very next day the employer came to our MENA tentmaker and asked if he knew of anyone who would like to teach the next school year!   
Maddy:  And that’s when they called me for an interview--and offered me a job!  Of course that was a new dilemma, because at the same time I had an offer from a school that paid a lot more.  After much prayer I felt God was leading me here, where I am today.  He will take care of all my needs.
TI:  In all honesty,  were you prepared for this?
Maddy:  I tried to be prepared!  As soon as I had mission in MENA in focus, I started reading—about missions, the people in the region, their faith, tentmaking, my host country.  I was a student missionary and was involved in a great training program for that. I know that helped prepare me. I’ve also gotten a wealth of information—days’ worth of patient explanations—just talking to other tentmakers. I am so thankful to find someone who will take every question seriously and answer everything I can think of!  I even enrolled in language lessons online as soon as I accepted the job.  In nothing less than God’s miracle, I was even able to begin language lessons the day after I landed here!
As I've watched God provide a job, friends to work with, and even language lessons, I know that He will provide for all the details of my future here as well.  I’m convinced this is His mission for me, and He’s promised He’ll be with me in it!