Today I was praying and thinking about my call to Japan. Was it dramatic? Not particularly. Was it at an Urbana Conference? No. Was I a missions major in college? No, I was an English major. Did I want to be a missionary since I was a child? No way.
I can only describe my call as a gentle but irresistible tug to simply GO. As a junior in college I read “Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot” by Elisabeth Elliot which totally blew my mind. I was deeply inspired by this young man so full of zeal who gave up his life to bring the gospel to the lost of Ecuador. Talk about a man who KNEW he was called! After reading that book, I decided that after graduating from college, I would do everything I could to get onto the foreign missionary field.
So, I went to Japan as a 23-year old with an open heart to whatever God wanted to do with me. I went through a mission that offered the opportunity to work part-time as an English teacher and be a missionary assistant to veteran missionaries at the same time. Getting to Japan was easy. Developing a deep love and heart for the people of Japan took several years and a whole lot of prayer. I’ll never regret going.
Jim Elliot wrote in the 1950s, “Our young men are going into the professional fields because they don’t ‘feel called’ to the mission field. We don’t need a call; we need a kick in the pants. We must begin thinking in terms of ‘going out,’ and stop our weeping because ‘they won’t come in.’ Who wants to step into an igloo? The tombs themselves are not colder than the churches. May God send us forth.” Wow!
Incidentally, although it probably wouldn’t be labeled a “missionary” song, I have always found Keith Green’s “Oh, Lord, You’re Beautiful” to be one that captures the heart of a missionary utterly determined to be part of making God’s name known among the nations of the earth. As my former team leader, Dr. Michael Oh, writes, “We must understand how globally worthy [Christ] is to be loved and adored, how incredibly hard the task of making him known is, and how great are the sacrifices needed to see that happen. This is how much we want to see Jesus worshiped by every tribe, language, people, and nation.”
(This was performed live the week he wrote the song with different lyrics than I had ever heard.)
Oh, Lord You’re Beautiful
Your Face is all I seek
For when your eyes are on this child
Your love abounds to me
Oh Lord, my body’s tired
But you keep reminding me
Of many holy tireless men
Who spilled their blood for Thee!
I want to take your Word and shine it all around
But first help me just to live it, Lord
And if I’m doing well,
please help me to never make a sound
Except to give all the glory to you!