Last week was Spiritual Emphasis Week at The Black Forest Academy. This year, our speaker was a man by the name of Bill Stevenson. Although Bill joined us from John Brown University, in Arkansas, he spoke with an Irish accent. Bill grew up in Ireland and in Korea. He moved to the States later in life. His multicultural background was very relatable for most of the students of BFA. Therefore, it only seemed fitting that he share his own story and that he encourage the students to know and share their stories as well.
This got me thinking about my story. You can find the story about how I felt called to become a missionary as a teenager and the road I traveled to BFA on my About Me page. Let’s call that history of my life the preface. It’s an important preface though. Feel free to abandon this post right this moment to read it. When you come back, you can learn more about the story God is writing for me right now. Enjoy!
As expected, the pages of my story are turning quickly and I am faced with the possibility of beginning a new chapter entirely. I was fortunate enough to return to Germany, this year, to continue in the chapter that was started two years ago, at The Black Forest Academy. However, my lack of financial stability and my future in missions are directing me down different pathways.
At this time, I have to figure out what my next step is and I’m not sure which way to go. I’m living in a “choose your own adventure” situation. It’s not that easy though. The choose your own adventure books tend to work like a maze. Most of the books I read ended happily if you went one direction, but disastrous if you went the other way. It was important for the reader to think about the possible consequences of the path they would choose. (You may have guessed that I was the kind of child that would sneak a peak in the back, to see which story had a happy ending, rather than contemplating the pros and cons of each decision). The difference between this experience and my life is that God could have something great at the end of each path that I choose. They are simply different paths. God doesn’t always “call” us to something specific. I know that He wants me to serve Him fully. I just can’t figure out WHERE I should be doing that.
I would love to remain at BFA another 2 years. Yet, in order to stay, I would have to become a career missionary. Making this transition would mean paperwork, phone calls, meetings (at TEAM’s base in Chicago), and a LOT more support money. It seems impossible for this to be accomplished while I am here, in Germany.
The more likely possibility is that I will need to take 1 or 2 years off from a job that requires me to raise my own pay check. This would mean that I could not return to the Black Forest Academy. I am having a hard time deciding if I am ready to be entirely done with this chapter. Yet, when I think and pray about my situation, I feel led to look into ministry that is more involved with evangelism. (As a footnote, I will offer that I am unsure if this urge comes from God or from guilt. I often feel guilty for being involved in ministry that enhances the relationship students have with God, rather than a ministry that helps initiate that relationship).
While I have been praying about what God wants me to do, I have found a paid position at a school similar to BFA. The school is located in Istanbul, Turkey. This school also caters to third culture kids. It seems to be filled with more students from expatriate families, rather than missionary students though. Choosing this adventure could enable me to have summers off to raise support for a future chapter, provide a paycheck to live off of, and give me the opportunity to be more involved in the lives of teenagers who need to know who Jesus is more desperately.
In these last three years, God has given me a desire to be a part of education. My transition into the teaching world wasn’t easy, but the experience has been incredibly rewarding. I’m not ready to step away from the school system. So, I am finding the possibility that I could teach classes in Istanbul, which are similar to my current classes, very exciting.
You may now be wondering what is stopping me. I will tell you honestly that Black Forest Academy is what is stopping me. I cannot imagine leaving this place right now. I’m so close to the community that I live in. I have a deep love for the staff, students, and missionary families of BFA. Like my departure from East Lake, I keep looking for the perfect time to leave. I keep waiting for the feeling of being disconnected to help me turn the page. These last two years, I have started the year thinking: “It will be easy for me to leave this year, because I don’t feel close to the underclassmen.” As you can probably predict, I grow a fondness for the younger students by the end of the year each year. I know this will happen again. There is no need to read ahead. I already see it happening.
My yearbook class alone pulls on my heart strings and causes me to want to stay. I have many new students in my class that are incredible. I can confidently say that I love them already. I care about who they are and not just about what they learn. It is with a heavy heart that I begin to peak into future chapters of the book, to see if I should stay on this path or choose a different adventure.
(Pictures of new students, taken by yearbook students)
I have more options that I have not even begun to think about yet. They will all lead to a happy ending, whether the path is rough or smooth. I just need the Lord’s wisdom to know which adventure will bring me closer to Him and teach me the humility that I so badly need to learn.
Please pray about the important decisions that I have to make. I would also love to receive your wise counsel, if you would like to send me a message. You cannot know the ending of my story, but you can certainly offer me advice for the journey.