By nature, humans like to categorize things and organize things. It's pretty normal for us to be handed a group of things and find ways to separate and label them to make sense of them. We do that with skin colors, cultures, jobs, activities, everything you can think of. But what do you do when something doesn't fit into what you think it should? What about those people who seem to cut across categories, labels, and expectations?
I'm pretty sure that Kristy and I have been called to be those kinds of people.
It seems like in every aspect of life, we run into this situation. In our call to go to France, we especially seem to have hit that.
Early on, everyone we talked to said that the only way we would be able to go work in France was to be bi-vocational and have a "day job" in addition to our ministry. We both felt like that wouldn't work for us. We have both worked full-time and seen how little time we have for ministry, let alone family, when we do. So we started looking into being supported missionaries.
Being a supported missionary meant that we would need to find a missions organization that would act as our sending organization. This posed its own problem because most organizations fall into one of two camps. They are either tied to a specific denomination, like the International Missions Board of the Southern Baptist Church, or they have specific parts of the world, people groups, countries, cities, etc. that they focus on. In addition, they generally have specific focuses of what they do in those locations, usually church planting. So finding an organization that would be willing to send us to a preexisting church in Alsace, France, was a lot harder than we expected.
We were pretty thankful to have found Global Outreach Mission since their specific focus is helping people follow God's individual call on their lives. It's basically a missions organization for us out-of-the-box people!
Now we are even wondering if there is the possibility that our plan to be fully supported might change. Thanks to some changes that have happened recently in our lives regarding our income situation, we're starting to think out of the box at the possibility of some kind of hybrid between missions support and jobs.
Even our calling was outside of the box.
When we first started on this journey, our assumption was that we would be church planters, since that's what pretty much every American church seems to focus on right now. After we met Didier and visited France in 2015, we felt God was telling us to work with his church, Assemblée Chrétienne Mulhouse (ACM), and support the work they are already doing in France. When we came home and started telling people this was what we felt God was telling us, we were surprised at some of the responses.
We were told that the Holy Spirit very rarely gives people that specific of a call for missions. We were told that usually the call might be to a specific region, or people group, but not to a specific church in a specific region, in a specific country. We were told that our calling was wrong. It didn't fit into the right box.
It's hard to hear from people we respect that they don't think we're hearing God correctly because God doesn't say things like that. It's really a bit absurd. The Bible is full of instances when God said very clearly "go there, do this". Yes, the Bible also has a lot of general calls. Abram was told “Go from your country...to the land I will show you." That's pretty vague. But what about Paul's dream about the man from Macedonia? What about Philip being told by the angel of God "Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza."? What about so many other times when God specifically told someone to go somewhere or do something? If we believe that God still speaks to us, why would it not be OK for God to tell us to work with a specific church in a specific place?
So we will follow God's call. We have been praying about it for over 3 years now, and we don't feel like God has told us anything different.
We're proud to be outside of the box. Jesus lived his life outside of the box of his culture and society. We're called to be like Christ so we're called to live outside of the box, even when the church defines that box.