By: Dr. Ruth Lacey
Everyone’s calling is different, and every missionary’s calling varies from the other. My calling to missions involves a bit of a process. I’d like to share some of that story, since few of you have heard it:
I think the first time I considered being a missionary was when I was in elementary school, about the same time that I began to want to become a veterinarian. Both of these ideas periodically waxed and waned throughout my adolescence. It wasn’t until college that I first heard of a veterinary missionary. This turned out to be my first exposure to Christian Veterinary Mission. The father of a fellow classmate was a veterinarian serving with CVM in Haiti. It was then that I started putting together the ideas of being a veterinarian and being a missionary.
Long term missions however seemed intimidating to me; so, my idea was to become a veterinarian and participate in short term veterinary mission trips throughout my career. Upon graduating from college I wanted to test this idea. I signed up for a short term trip with CVM to the Navajo and Apache reservations in New Mexico and Arizona. My plan was to “get my feet wet” and try to discern the type of involvement in missions I was called into as a veterinarian. An unexpected occurrence happened on this trip. I experienced an undeniable calling. This calling was unexpected in that instead of being specifically to missions it was to a man who would become my future husband. Yes, I had met Coalson. He was just beginning his support raising to serve in Bolivia.
During the following years of friendship with Coalson and attending veterinary school while he was in Bolivia, I continued to seek whether I was called more to short term missions or long term missions. Once we started officially dating I took a 3-week trip to visit Bolivia and to see if this was something I could commit to long term. This was my first trip oversees and I did not know the language – enough to make one nervous. However, it never felt foreign to me and I felt comfortable. While there Coalson sat down with me and asked if I could “see myself here” in Bolivia. I took a long moment to answer. I didn’t want my decision to be made out of sole emotion; hopefully he wasn’t too nervous waiting. My answer was “I think so”, and I meant it – I believed I could serve there with Coalson but still had some apprehension of the unknown. After this experience and continuing to be called to my future husband, Coalson and I became engaged and married with the plan to serve in long term missions together. And here we are, planning to leave together in approximately a year for Bolivia.
So where does that leave me, you may ask. Am I following my husband into his calling, or do I have a specific calling of my own? The answer is yes to both. Although I don’t know all that I will be doing in Bolivia; I am trusting that I will walk into God’s purposes and plans as I delight in and commit myself to Him. Coalson and I both believe that I will minister to the girls and women in Bolivia. During Coalson’s first term in Bolivia his ministry with the female veterinary students was limited as a single male missionary. The male students bonded with him and many consider him a spiritual father.
We’re looking forward to ministering more fully with both men and women as a married couple. Many of the girls have emotional and spiritual baggage as Bolivia is a very sexualized culture. There is much opportunity to share the love of Christ and disciple girls and women into their full identity in Christ. The harvest there is plentiful as Luke 10:2 states, “…‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’ ” Every believer has a harvest to reap. Each one’s harvest looks different than the other, but everyone has a role to play for the kingdom.
I’m learning that we don’t always have to know exactly what our harvest looks like before following the Lord’s leading. We simply walk each day in obedience and He leads us into our harvest, sometimes without us realizing that we’re fulfilling our purpose until we’re already there. A passage that helps illustrate this is in Exodus 23:29-30. The Israelites were in the midst of taking possession of their promised land and God states, “I will not drive them out before you in a single year, that the land may not become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. I will drive them out before you little by little, until you become fruitful and take possession of the land.” The Israelites were not given their entire promise in full immediately. God’s design was to wait until they were fully prepared to receive their promise. Finding our calling and purpose can be like that.
God reveals each step of the way, and little by little we walk into our purpose as we mature and grow (become fruitful) along the way. The challenge is staying in tune with the Lord through this process, that we do not wander along the way. Psalm 37:4-5 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it.” It is when we delight in the Lord and commit to Him that He places His desires into our hearts and they truly become our own desires. Our desire for our purpose or our harvest matches with His desire and plan for our lives. We desire to follow Him, and we follow Him into our harvest for His kingdom.
As our journey unfolds, you’ll be hearing about our story as God leads us into our harvest in Bolivia one step at a time, and I look forward to sharing with you what my specific roles are as God reveals them. We invite you to partner with us for the harvest in Bolivia through your faithful prayers and financial giving. And we challenge and encourage each of you to delight in and commit to the Lord as He leads you into your own joyful harvest.