Guest Author: Ashley Stromenberg
If you haven’t already heard, earlier this week I announced that I will be leaving my comfortable and enjoyable office job to become (it’s not a dirty word) a missionary. Yes, I have officially lost my mind.
I have recently accepted the role of Youth for Christ Canada’s Program Coordinator for Engage!, YFC’s International Youth Volunteer Ministry (click here to learn more!). Working with YFC’s Global Engagement Team, my role will be to find, train, place, and support young Canadian missionaries who will serve for 3 to 12 months in other nations, while strengthening international YFC partnerships.
While this role pretty much sounds like the bomb-diggity (I’m like a matchmaker for youth who want to serve, so that’s pretty sweet), there is one big challenge before this whole thing gets off the ground. All YFC staff, including my husband, fully fundraise their salary. That means that 100% of our household income comes through supporters. God never makes things easy does He?
. . .
Two years ago, I started to feel antsy. Although I liked the place and the people where I worked, I knew it wasn’t really for me. I felt deep down in that secret private soul place that something bigger was coming down the line. I prayed over and over to God to give me direction (aka just tell me what the plan is k God, cool), but keep just getting, “Wait, be still.” My whole small group can testify that, “Wait, be still,” pestered me for a good long time. But waiting always means there is something coming, that there is something you are waiting for.
Us church people are sometimes so predictable. We know all the words to all the songs, we know how to shake hands and smile, and we know all the right things to pray. It can be very easy to just do the things you’re suppose to do and forget that you’re supposed to be doing them with Jesus. During a particularly passionate moment of worship at a youth event, I stopped to really listen to the words of the song that seemed to be everyone’s favourite:
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever you would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my saviour.
As the worship team did that thing where they repeat the same part of the song at least five minutes longer than necessary, I found myself really thinking about those words. Would I really go wherever God called me? Did I actually want to do whatever God called me to do? What does it even mean to be called anyway (isn’t that just what people say when they want to be a pastor or go to bible college?)? What about the last guy who tried to walk on water with Jesus and nearly drowned? Can’t we start by walking on rivers instead of walking on oceans? Can your trust even grow deeper or faith grow stronger without a situation where you have to 100% rely on God?
I realized that I wanted to have a strong faith without doing any of the hard work it takes to get strong (this is literally the same reason I do not have a strong body). I wanted to have a deep trust in God without actually needing to ever trust Him (can I get an Amen). When this job was presented to me, my first thought was, “There is no way I can do this without God’s help, without trusting Him completely, and without just taking a crazy leap of faith.” Of course, God’s answer was, “Exactly.”
. . .
I never understood the whole “called” thing. For me it was kind of just a Christianese thing that people said to explain why they were doing what they were doing:
Why are you going to Bible college? Because I was called.
Why did you become a pastor? Because I was called.
Why did you eat that 8th slice of pizza? Because I was called.
I’m beginning to think that God doesn’t just call people so that they can give “it’s my calling” as an explanation, but that God calls us to all sorts of things all the time so that we can grow and become more like Him. A calling can be as simple as God telling you to give your Bible to a friend or praying for someone at work. A calling can be as big as a challenge to serve, to be obedient, to learn, to trust, or to do whatever He’s put in front of you, whether you’re a pastor, a missionary, a student, a retail worker, or even a secretary.
Now let’s just deal with that word “missionary”. Please know, I will not be bashing anyone over the head with any Bibles. I will not be entering into any community here or overseas to tell people that I know best because of my race or religion. A missionary is just a person sent with a mission. My mission is to love and to serve, and be as much like Jesus as I can (and honestly some days I’m better at it than others). Jesus was a man who served and loved everyone, especially those who were marginalized by society, and He is also the one who is sending me. If you want to know more about my Jesus, we can chat over caramel lattes because that actually counts as part of my job now too (🙌).
. . .
So I’m going to take that crazy leap of faith, letting the Spirit lead me way out into deep waters that are way past the previous borders of my trust. I will trust in His plan, even when it doesn’t make sense and even when I don’t know where I’m going. I will step out of my comfort zone into a place where I cannot rely on my own understanding, a place that is both exciting and terrifying, wherever He would call me.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
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