Excerpt from Chapter 2 of: Shaka Muchembeli in the Land of the Smoke that Thunders.
Proverbs 3: 5,6
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy path.”
How in the world does a missionary decide to which country they are being called? Missionaries in many denominations are told by their governing body where they will be going. As Independent Baptists, we rely individually on the call of the Holy Spirit, and for Him to direct. Then your home church seeks the Lords face and determines if they will be your sending church. But often you’re faced with other choices too – sent solely by your sending church or go thru a missionary board? There are a lot of arguments on both sides, but whichever way you decide, the average time for a missionary to raise the funds for full-time ministry on a foreign field is 3 to 5 years! Do you go to candidate school (we suggest yes if you’ve never been on a foreign field)? Do you need to go to language school? Let me tell you, each day is filled with more questions and sometimes we try to get ahead of the Lord. We forget that He said “be still, and know that I am God.” Time to be still, and let Him direct.
Jack felt from the beginning that we were being called to Africa, he just didn’t know what part. Many people incorrectly think of Africa as a country, but it is instead a continent made up of 54 countries. So…..54 choices! We did originally go with a missions board, and met so many wonderful supportive people. To go with a missions board, you go thru an interview process where they determine that your doctrine is the same, and that there are no issues in your life to preclude your going to the field. We had really been struggling with where to go, and had been presented with several options. One dear friend had left his heart behind in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and really wanted us to go there. We prayed over this one, looked it up, oohed and……then discovered it is between 7600 and 9800 feet above sea level. So? Jack had been a fairly heavy smoker years before, and with the damage done to his lungs Addis was out. See how choices in your early life can radically affect you later? The first door closes. We got another call from an old friend who was ready to retire and come off the field but wanted to be sure the right people came in. Everything was already there, just take over the work. But this one wasn’t in Africa – it was the Marshal Islands. Oh my, tropical breezes, the ocean, and for Jack, a mecca of history. Oh how much he wanted to go. That was where his uncles had served, and there are so many places to go and sunken ships to see…….and God said “I’m not sending you on a vacation, I’m sending you to work.” So the door closed on the Marshals. So where Lord? We want to go NOW, but need to know WHERE! At this time I was still working with Hospice, and I came home one day and Jack said “you’re going to kill me”. Well, you know in any marriage there are times that may be a little tiny thought in the back of your head, but we’re headed for AFRICA, I’m ready to go, so what could he have done? He told me he had received a call from someone who had found our name on line after he had been praying and searching for just the right missionary to come and take over another existing work in, wait for it…….JAMAICA! The sandy beaches and ocean are back!! But after talking with him a bit, Jack decided no this wasn’t right either and then gave him the name of another missionary he felt would be better suited for that area. Africa was still calling. Well, at least I’d get the sand.
While I was working late one evening, Jack had gone on to church and there was a young missionary there. She had grown up on the mission field with her parents, but had come back to the States to get her degree in nursing and was looking for support to go back herself as a medical missionary to the country of Zambia. I know The Gambia is northwestern Africa, but where is Zambia? When Jack and I were in school, Zambia didn’t exist and was actually a part of Rhodesia. While Jack sat there, the Holy Spirit began prodding his heart……” Zambia, this is where you are to go.” He came home that night and said “It’s Zambia”. I immediately knew this was right. Lead on Holy Spirit! Zambia, we’re coming!