Missions – Not What I Expected

I felt the call to be a missionary when I was 11 years old. I didn’t know that one way God would have me fulfill that call would be through teaching until about four years ago. Maybe one day I’ll travel around the world teaching the Good News. But right now, this is where I’m planted, to be the light to my kiddos in this broken system.

I remember it clear as day. I was eleven years old, sitting in my room at my desk. I know that year I received the Holy Ghost, but I don’t recall whether this moment happened before or after that time. Anyway… I was sitting at my desk looking at the corkboard hanging on the wall. I had pictures of friends and family, a few pictures of artists I loved listening to, you know, the typical pre-teen room display. Also on that corkboard was pinned a picture of a world map. It was there to remind me to pray for our missionaries. That day though, I just sat there, staring at the map. I felt something in me shift. I didn’t know the details; I had no idea what it meant. All I knew was that I was going to be a missionary. It was my calling to work on the mission field.

Fast forward to college; since that time when I knew my calling, sometimes it was placed on the forefront. It was all I looked at. However, other times I placed it in the background, basically forgetting it existed. I didn’t know how it would all play out and it scared me (still does sometimes). Almost every time I heard a missionary speak, or someone speak about missions, I would cry. I would listen to their stories and plead with God, asking, “WHEN IS IT MY TURN?” Then I would look at my life and feel like it didn’t measure up to the calling of a missionary. Do I really have what it takes? Does my life show Jesus to those around me? Am I doing this right?

After five years, I graduated college with a degree in early childhood education. I earned my certificate to teach the littlest of littles. I had no idea that this would be my first mission field. You see, I had these ideas in my head, ideas that kept that missionary calling fire in my heart going. But I don’t know if those ideals really meet where I’m going. Then again, maybe they do. I listened to life stories of missionaries; I studied their lives, I heard them preach at church. They all came from foreign lands, places where they had to give up everything and move off; they preach the gospel on the streets, some hide, preaching quietly to a group hoping the government won’t catch them, they live life with different people groups, loving, serving, teaching, sacrificing, feeding the hungry. And while my heart longs to travel, I haven’t heard the call to go live in another country just yet. I have heard the call though, offering me a job at a local school; where within the last five years free-and-reduced lunch has went from 5% to 75%; a place where children come in, in defense mode, because they stayed up all night to their parents fighting; a place where children come in, nearly starved for food just as much as for attention; their needs unmet to the point of desperation. I did not see this as a mission field. It did not even click until I read a blog post about teachers being missionaries.

Because my ideals were so focused on living in a small hut in another country with barefoot children running around, I neglected to see the children in front of me. I didn’t hear their cries, their pleas to be fed spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically.

Whatever your calling may be, missions, preaching, teaching, mentoring, singing, translating, etc., please realize that the foundation of that ministry may look nothing like you think. You may be called to be a pastor, and right now all you are doing is scrubbing toilets. You may be called to lead the worship team and right now you are only singing in the shower. I’m here to tell you, it’s okay. I know it may seem like God took you on a detour and left you; I promise you He will never leave you, nor will He forsake you. This road that appears to be destitute, it’s part of your journey. A beautiful part. This is part of your calling. I would be willing to bet, if you are following God with all your heart, compare your calling to what you are doing now, they’re connected somehow.

If you still don’t know your calling, don’t lose hope. Live life as it is right now. Don’t rush it. Let God do His work; in His timing everything will fall into place.

Right now, small town USA is my mission field. In a broken world, every country needs missionaries.



More than Love

You know, there are some days that I feel like I’m doing pretty good. I had a good day at the job; I had time with Jesus; I went to the gym; I witnessed to someone; I did not rush around trying to get things done; I am all caught up on laundry and the house is cleaned; when someone made me angry, I calmly responded in a loving manner. I prayed before I acted.

We all have a list like that, don’t we? A list we check off of our conscious to make sure we are staying within our “good people” guidelines. The problem with this list is that even though all those things are good, when they are our checklist, we lose sight of our goal: “Well done, good and faithful servant…” We should be living every day, every moment with that goal in mind. When we forget that our goal is “Well done,” we forget what we are called to. We forget that our goodness is measured against God’s goodness. We forget to compare ourselves to God’s goodness, and we start comparing ourselves to others and our own past days of achievement.

Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8. For perspective, I changed the word love to God, because we know Scripture says God is love.


1 John 4:8

“He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”


1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (Ali’s version)

God is patient.

God is kind.

God does not envy (unnecessary jealousy).

God does not boast of Himself excessively.

God is not puffed up.

God does not behave rudely.

God does not seek His own.

God thinks no evil.

God does not rejoice in iniquity.

God rejoices in truth.

God bears all things.

God believes all things.

God hopes all things.

God endures all things.

God never fails.

When I looked at this, I saw my sin. I saw how much I still need to grow. I then took my name, to see if I actually could check any of these things off a list:

Ali is patient… (eh mostly, when I’m not tired)

Ali is kind. (I mean, yeah, I think I have this one mostly)

Ali does not become jealous. (um, well, I like to think I’m not)

Ali does not boast of herself excessively. (YEAH! I never boast, I’m so good at not boasting… Wait, am I boasting now?)

I could continue, but I think you may understand where I am going. When I use this as a checklist, it reminds me how much I need God. This checklist keeps me humble, because Oh my word, do I ever need help in these areas. Sure, I don’t lie, I pay my tithes, I go to church, and I spend time with God. But does the fruit of my life really show it? You see, all of those good things that were on my checklist earlier: being healthy and exercising (taking care of God’s temple), going to church (not forsaking the gathering of saints), paying tithes, doing good at work, and etc. are all necessary to live good. However, if you put them on a conscious checklist as your “I’m fine list” they become just a checklist. You rush through devotions to check it off. You pay just the 10% of tithes God requires of us so your conscious will be okay. You go to the gym and run a mile to check it off the list. And somehow all this checking makes you miss the big picture. You miss the nourishment of God’s Spirit during devotions. You miss the blessing of giving till it hurts. You miss the rush of endorphins when you work out. You miss the fruit of all the work you’re putting in because the attitude behind what you’re doing is wrong! You can easily become like the Pharisees, lookin’ good on the outside, and completely dead on the inside. They lacked the Fruit of the Spirit a.k.a. the Fruit of God’s LOVE dwelling inside them, and because of this, Jesus was not pleased with them (John 15:8).

1 Corinthians 13:1-2

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity (love), I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity (love), I am nothing.”

John 15:8

“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”

The next time you realize you’re rushing through your “good person” checklist, pull this one out. Compare yourself to God. When I compare my goodness to God, I am always put into check, He is good, without Him, I am nothing.


_______ is patient.

_______ is kind.

_______ does not envy (unnecessary jealousy).

_______ does not boast of Himself excessively.

_______ is not puffed up.

_______ does not behave rudely.

_______ does not seek His own.

_______ thinks no evil.

_______ does not rejoice in iniquity.

_______ rejoices in truth.

_______ bears all things.

_______ believes all things.

_______ hopes all things.

_______ endures all things.

_______ never fails.