August 1, 2019
It is always a pleasure to meet new people. Thank you for signing up for my newsletter and also for your interest in N. Macedonia. I would like to take a moment to introduce myself and tell you more about how I ended up serving in a little known, but historically rich country in Eastern Europe.
I’ll begin my story when I was in college at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. I was a fine arts major who was passionately seeking ways to get serious about my faith. I joined several on-campus Christian ministries and was exposed to the idea of short-term missions.Convinced that a “good Christian” had to go on one of these short-term trips, I signed up for a two-week trip to Kazakhstan. The second day of our trip, my team leader and the hosting missionary were engaged in a conversation about the effectiveness of short-term missions when I heard the missionary say, “The best thing to come out of short-term mission trips is long-term missionaries.” Almost instantly, my inner voice replied, “Ha! You won’t get me.”
Sometimes I laugh when I think about the times I’ve told God no, I can’t do that, only to end up saying yes to even more down the road. Despite my initial reaction, my experience in Kazakhstansoftened my heart and I soon found myself saying, “Yes,” to God’s call to overseas service.
In 2004, I signed up for a one-year volunteer program and my church sent me to teach missionary children in Macedonia. I had a wonderful experience serving and learning to see the world through Macedonian eyes. One of the things that year taught me was that to make a real and lasting impact somewhere, I would need to stay longer than one year.
I returned to the states and began working on a master’s degree in Inter-cultural studies at the Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri. I was hoping to return to Macedonia as a full-time missionary with the Church of the Nazarene; however, while I was still in school, the church closed down its work in Macedonia. I looked for other avenues, but felt the door to Macedonia was closed to me at that time.
Seeking to serve God wherever His Spirit was moving, I applied to serve as an English teacher in Asia. I taught college students in Phnom Penh, Cambodia from 2010 to 2014. While serving in Cambodia, I became conscious of the ways cultural beliefs and societal structures play a role in societal ills, and that the church is God’s main way of combating the negative impacts of these systems. During my fourth year, I decided not to renew my contract with the university so I could invest more time strengthening churches to bring God’s kingdom to their communities. I spent another year in Cambodia studying the language and building up leaders in the church, but I kept feeling a burning desire to return to Macedonia.
In the spring of 2015, I planned a short trip to Macedonia to serve as a personal retreat and perhaps settle this notion of returning to Macedonia once and for all. I was desperately wanting to hear from God when an old friend suggested I speak with his pastor. His pastor turned out to be the district superintended of the Methodist Churches in Macedonia. When I told him who I was and about my heart for Macedonia, he told me it would be no problem for a me to work with the Methodist Church in Macedonia. In fact, their previous missionary had just retired and they were looking for someone to help with leadership development in the church. It was like the door that had been shut for over ten years suddenly unlocked and flew open! I could not have asked for a more divine appointment than that day.
I applied and I am honored to say that I was commissioned by the United Methodist Church as a missionary on May 19th, 2016. I invite you to partner with me in the work in North Macedonia. I invite you to learn more about N. Macedonia and her people. I invite you to pray for me, and for the young leaders who are trying to be relevant to their cultural context while remaining faithful to their Wesleyan roots. I invite you to consider coming and serving in Macedonia yourself. And I invite you to invest financially in the work in Macedonia through the church’s Advance program.
Again, it was a pleasure to meet you. If you would like to ask me any questions or just send me a note of encouragement, please do not hesitate to contact me at email@example.com. Thank you for your prayers and I pray God’s blessing on your life wherever your path may lead.
Click here to watch a video about Macedonia
Click here to read about the UMC in Macedonia
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