It was January of 2015, and Josh and I had just returned from staying with his parents for Christmas in Taiwan. Our plans to move permanently to Taiwan the following year had been recently dashed upon the rocks of reality, i.e. Josh’s dad’s explanation to us that Taiwan’s visa laws required us to work for a church or missions organization for two years before we could apply for a missionary visa. We were heartbroken. Our lives were going to be put on hold for two years before we could get back to Asia? Surely this was not God’s plan. I schemed and researched and tried to find a loophole that would get us to Taiwan faster.
We were on the student cabinet of One Mission’s student center at Asbury at the time, and I suspected that OMS might ask us to accept a greater leadership role as the directors there finished their term. “Josh,” I said as we were getting ready for bed one evening, “if they ask us to be the assistant directors next year, we will say no.” We were busy enough as it was, and I wanted to focus our efforts on getting a job at a Chinese church so we could use our two years of ministry in the States “most effectively.” Josh grinned and said something about not telling God “no.” I promptly ignored him, confident that God would never make us do student ministry when we were both so eager to get out of school and into missions.
Five months and many grudging (on my part) “yesses” later, we were moving into the director’s residence of the OMS student center as-you guessed it-the assistant directors. This was a temporary situation as the directors transitioned out and OMS searched for new directors to take their place the following year. Despite my resistance, I had to admit, we had a pretty sweet deal- not only did this position meet the requirements for our Taiwan visa, but we also got to live in a lovely, sunshine-filled house with plenty of room to welcome Hosanna, who was about 8 months from her entry into the world.
“Ok, ok,” I told Josh, “we can be the assistants. But if they ask us to be the real directors, we are definitely saying no. Student ministry is not our calling! We’ll do this for a year and then find something else to finish out our visa requirement.” He gave me that same irritating smile he gives when he suspects I am wrong and I, as usual, did my best to pretend I didn’t see it.
Our year as assistant directors was filled with confirmations from God that it was indeed his plan for us to be here at Asbury, mobilizing students into missions. Everything was falling into place for us to continue the work for another year as the directors, especially since OMS had yet to find a new director to take over. And so, my heart filled with both anticipation and dread, we said yes to taking on the full role as directors for the 2016-2017 school year.
God had worked patiently to help me accept his plan for us to stay here at Asbury a little longer, but I still had no idea what we were doing. We have no training in college ministry, and to be honest the thought terrified me! Because we had nothing to go on, we prayed constantly for the Lord’s guidance and for his will to be done in our ministry. The week before school started, we found out that most of the students on our cabinet had to back out due to other commitments. Most of the students we were close to had already graduated, and it felt as though we were starting with nothing. We turned to our Father, asking Him to come through for us because we had little to offer.
True to His character, the Lord did come through. God sent us new students we didn’t even know, who shared our vision for a ministry and missions discipleship group. The Lord facilitated relationships with students of all kinds of backgrounds and interests. I couldn’t believe it- not only were our hopes for the ministry coming to fruition, but I was actually enjoying it. When we told some students that our position here is only for this year, they expressed their dismay. To my surprise, I felt a twinge in my heart and realized that I, too, will be sad to leave.
I used to think people’s stories about telling God “no” and then experiencing a complete change of heart were rather cliché… and then I started telling God “no” and got to experience it firsthand! Though my “no’s” may sound like the exact opposite of yours (I try to convince God to send me into missions sooner, not to keep me here!), His graciousness remains unchanged.
Thank you for your prayers and encouragement as we disciple students and help them discern God’s leading in their lives. It is truly a joy to be a part of God’s work here, and to experience constant His faithfulness.