In this post, Eric shares his experience and thoughts behind looking for the unexpected.
A few weeks ago, my commissioning church had a Missions Emphasis weekend. I had the opportunity to share during the Sunday service! The theme of the weekend was “See God’s Work Among the Nations.”
The missions committee chose Habakkuk 1:5 as the Bible verse.
I was asked to share a 10-minute story about how I saw God’s work among the nations at TECH. My hope as you read along is that you find yourself looking for the unexpected.
“At an unexpected time and in an unexpected place, God opened the door of serving to me. Before returning to Korea after a one-year exchange student program, I got involved in missions work through TECH Team Advantage.
I’ve been able to see how God puts into motion his work over this last year as an intern.
Seeing the people who use their talents and time to help other ministries (and praying for them) has shaped my understanding of what His call is and what it means to respond to that call.
God has created us with unique purposes and everyone can be a part of His work in various ways. This doesn’t always include working on the front line of missions.
For instance, one can be a supporter, connector, or whatever they are called to do according to His will.
Seeing His works has proved to me that He is a way-maker.
When I think I’m not capable of doing things, He has been a planner, teacher, supplier, and just director to keep continuing to put me in his plan. I am grateful that the time and talents He gave to me were used for his work. In addition, I am thankful for the opportunity to see His greatness while working in the place that serves his vision.”
What I Learned From Jueun
Jueun served at TECH in our Facility Solutions department. Her internship began in January of last year (2022). She just left for home a few weeks ago to complete her schooling.
During her time at TECH, she was a tremendous assistance to TECH and to me. To her, serving at TECH was foreign missions. To me, it is serving from home.
Jueun came to TECH by way of an exchange program at LeTourneau University. She came to experience how to combine her skills in architecture with her desire to serve Jesus. It is clear from her words that she experienced just that. It is also clear that she grew in her walk with Jesus along the way.
What is not so clear is how much I learned from her.
As her mentor this year, I was seeking to teach her about architecture and missions. Along the way, she taught me a fresh perspective on things I had started to take for granted or forgotten.
As I ponder what Jueun wrote, I am struck by a few themes. I hope to use her words to draw out two of those themes to encourage us all.
The first theme is about how God works in the unexpected. I love the way she says it: “At an unexpected time and in an unexpected place, God opened the door…”
Isn’t that the way God tends to work? My mind is been drawn back to Habakkuk 1:5.
In this passage, God told the prophet “Look among the nations and see: wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.”
Habakkuk did not expect what God was about to do.
In the context of the book, God is talking about raising up the Babylonians as His instrument to fulfill His purposes. What unexpected things is God performing in my context that I am missing? My tendency is to look for the unexpected in the big, the loud, the obvious. That certainly happens. The invasion of Babylon was certainly one of those big, unexpected events.
But, usually, it seems the unexpected comes in the mundane, in the everyday.
Jueun’s unexpected time and place came in the quiet and steady, yet it changed her life and her perspective on God’s call. She reminds me that God’s work in my life is often in the quiet things, in the unlooked-for opportunities, in the everyday moments that defy explanation.
The second theme I see running throughout Jueun’s words is that she reminds us that everyone can be a part of His work. I would go one step further and say that every follower of Jesus is called to be part of His work.
God has blessed His children with a wide range of skills and abilities with which to serve him. When I took a survey of the ministries that are serving all over the world, I was amazed at the innovative and various ways God is using His children to carry out His work.
How This Relates to TECH
In many ways, that is the story of TECH Team Advantage.
TECH was founded over 50 years ago in response to unexpected needs expressed by other missionaries. They would come home on furlough discouraged, not by their mission, but by things they had to do that they did not feel trained to handle…like architecture, graphic design, and software development.
TECH was founded as a service mission that partners with other organizations in various technical roles. It is one of my greatest joys to encourage my fellow workers in their call to proclaim the Gospel by easing some of their burdens.
Like Jueun, I am excited to be part of a mission that allows the opportunity to use the skills God has given to His glory.
A question I have been asked recently was “How would you encourage the churches that support you?” My answer would come straight from Jueun’s story. I am reminded to be looking for the unexpected.
If you are anything like me, it is sometimes hard to see how we are part of God’s work. At TECH, we have had a global impact serving ministries in all but a handful of countries around the world. However, it is sometimes hard to see that impact while living in East Texas.
Part of my struggle is how I tend to define the nations, and I forget to be looking for the unexpected.
When we attend missions conferences, we can anticipate hearing about God’s work in remote parts of the world. Sometimes that feels really far away.
One thing I was reminded of while working with Jueun for a year is that, to most of the world, Texas is a far-off place.
By definition, the nations include the nation in which you live.
I want to encourage you to be looking for the unexpected. Look for how God can use you in the nation you call home, wherever that may be.
For many years, I struggled with that. I found missions conferences discouraging. Growing up, foreign missions were often championed as the ultimate calling. I would hear what God was doing out there. Even though I knew from an early age that I desired to serve the Church, I spent years thinking the call on my life was lesser than others for not feeling the call to go among the nations.
Older me would tell younger me that in the history of the Church most followers of Jesus have been called to stay, to be missionaries of the Gospel in the communities in which they live. I would encourage you to do the same.
As Paul exhorts us in 1 Corinthians 12, we are all needed. That includes those that go and those that stay. The call to walk with Him in this life is simply a call to follow Jesus, wherever He may lead. Near or far, there is no such thing as a lesser calling when you are following His voice.
My Prayer For You
My prayer is that the Spirit will encourage you to seek how you can join His work. I pray that He would remind you that you are, or can be, a part of God’s work among the nations. As you seek Him, some of you may hear the call to go abroad. Praise the Lord! Follow His voice! Most of you will hear a call to stay and serve locally. Praise the Lord! Follow His voice! And, as you pursue that long obedience in the same direction, may you see the unexpected doors He opens at the unexpected times and in unexpected places.