By Jennifer Jones –
I almost didn’t go on the “GreenLight” mission trip. I had already participated in a fair number of short-term mission trips and had already visited the country where the team would be going. I was concerned whether the experience would bring me closer to solving the puzzle of what to do with my life – where God was leading me.
At 10 years old, I felt a call to missions after hearing missionaries speak at my church. I felt certain that I would go to college to become a teacher, marry a pastor, and head overseas. This was what I thought you had to do to become a missionary.
Then, just before graduating high school, I felt God saying “no” to missions. I was confused and angry. Had I not heard God’s voice after all? Why would he give me a desire to serve him overseas and not let me go?
I’ve always loved to write, so instead of going to school to become a teacher, I studied to become a journalist. After graduation, I got a job at a fantastic radio station. When it looked like there might be cuts at my workplace, I began looking for other options.
I felt God calling me to a year-long mission trip. “This is it!” I thought. “God is finally letting me go!” I figured I would fall in love with a country, feel the call to move there full-time, and I would be all set. That didn’t happen. But I realized I loved writing about what God was doing and my time as a journalist hadn’t been for nothing after all.
Once back in the United States, I began looking into organizations hiring missionary writers. Nothing felt quite right. A friend suggested I look into Asbury Theological Seminary, and I felt like it was what God wanted me to do. That’s where I was introduced to TMS Global and learned about its “GreenLight” missions trip – a short-term mentorship experience. My teammates and I spent three weeks learning from four cross-cultural
Workers (missionaries) and their children as they interacted with their community, their friends, their employees, and their family.
For parts of the experience, I questioned whether I was called to missions. For example, the needs of the people around us felt very overwhelming. I also questioned my skills. It didn’t always feel like I had much to contribute.
But on one of our last days, our hosts spent time noting positive things they had seen in myself and the other participants. These cross-cultural workers reminded me that just spending time with others could be a powerful contribution. They also affirmed my calling as a missions writer. Ultimately, I realized I did not feel a sense that I was meant to live full-time overseas, at least not right now.
Over the next couple of years, as I finished seminary, a mobilizer with TMS Global continued to work with me to further discern whether it was the right mission organization for me, and if so, what that might look like. She listened as I shared my hopes, goals, dreams, and desires. I could tell that she really cared about me, and not just about filling a spot in the organization. I wanted to tell missions stories. But I also wanted to live closer to my family. My new work at TMS Global incorporates multiple dreams that God had laid on my heart. It is a perfect fit for me.
The road to get where I am now has been long and winding, but I’m able to see how God has worked the various parts of my life and experiences together to prepare me for my current place. So much of my discernment process has been gradual. It has involved paying attention to my passions and talents, circumstances, life experiences, and wisdom from trusted sources. I’m grateful for the people who have guided me. I’m also thankful for experiences like the GreenLight trip that have helped me discern a place in God’s mission just right for me.
Jenifer Jones is a writer who focuses on telling stories about the work God is doing in the world. She’s also a poet. Find her writing at www.jeniferjones.com. If you are interested in someone walking alongside you in your discernment experience, reach out to TMS Global today at email@example.com.