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Who Me?

If you would have told me just two years ago that I would be gearing up to go on a year-long mission trip to East Asia, I would have laughed at you. I always thought that mission work was not for me; I was too shy, too inexperienced, and too afraid to step out of my comfortable lifestyle and take the gospel to the nations. That all changed two winter breaks ago while I was at a conference held by Campus Crusade for Christ. They talked about mission opportunities overseas and for the first time, it sparked my interest. I went to hear more about opportunities in East Asia and found myself on the edge of my seat, my heart beating fast, and a realization bubbling up inside of me. I wanted to go. Besides, it was only for six weeks, and I would be with a team of college students and adults; that wasn’t anything like I imagined missionaries doing, so it felt safe.

So last May, I hopped on a plane with 15 other people I barely knew and was on my way to the most life-changing six weeks I’ve ever experienced. I fell in love with the Asian culture, the people, and even the food! I felt God’s peace spreading over my group and me as we were there sharing the gospel with Asian college students. I had never felt anything like it before; it was a sense of belonging, a sense of finally being where I was supposed to be. It broke my heart realizing that many of the people I spoke with had never heard the name ‘Jesus’ or never even thought about God throughout their entire lives. I saw first-hand what God was doing in just a small part of a large country that needs the Good News of a Savior. What Jesus said to his disciples was true; “the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few” (Matt 9:37). At the end of those short six weeks, I was not ready to get back on the plane and leave. There was so much left to do, so many people that still need to hear. I felt God tugging at my heart, giving me a strong burden for college students in East Asia.

I suppose, thinking about it now, I decided right then as I got back on that plane that I would come back. However, it took another couple of months before my brain caught up with my heart. I have always struggled with discerning what God’s calling for me is in certain situations. After returning to the U.S., I got the opportunity to hear a talk on missions and a quote by Hudson Taylor, one of the first missionaries to go to Asia finally broke down my reluctance to see God’s will for me. He said, “It will not do to say that you have no special call to go to [Asia]. With the facts before you and with the command of the Lord Jesus to go preach the gospel to every creature, you need rather to ascertain whether you have a special call to stay at home.” That blew me away; it completely changed the way I viewed God’s will for His people. I had heard the verse all my life, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matt 28:19) but did not think it applied to small, insignificant me. I now realize that it is God’s call for not only my life, but for every single follower of Christ, for we are all His disciples.

I never thought in a million years that I would be where I am today. But thankfully, God did know; and He has been shaping my life to get me where He needed me to be.

Tara Simmons

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