How do you discern your calling?
Connected to prayer
This article was first featured alongside our Prayer Diary in May 2017. You can download the May 2017 prayer points here or sign-up to receive future editions by post or email.
Cynthia Robinson, a missionary mobilised by AIM’s Canadian office, has recently moved to Antananarivo, Madagascar, to help coordinate the short term mission programme there. She talks to us about her mobilising journey.
Every Christian has been called to participate in God’s mission in the world. He can use anyone, we just need to be willing. It was only when someone pointed out to me that my desire to do cross-cultural mission was not commonplace that I was encouraged to respond. So, I applied to AIM. It was the TIMO (Training in Ministry Outreach) programme that drew me to AIM initially, and that’s when I got connected with my mobiliser, Susan Pinkerton.
In 2015 I went on a short term trip to Nosy Be, Madagascar, to experience a bit of the TIMO programme and get a feel for what long term mission was like. I chose Madagascar for a very unspiritual reason! My background is in environmental science and natural resource management and I knew about the deforestation in Madagascar as well as its biodiversity. Ultimately though, it didn’t really matter where I went because I was there to experience staying with a local person and to get some exposure to learning a different language and culture from my own.
A personal God
How do you discern your calling? Thinking about the specific role that God is calling you into can be tricky. Cynthia shares how God turned her expectations upside down!
God really is personal with us. When I first considered my current placement (as Short Term Coordinator in Madagascar) I felt conflicted, because a support role wasn’t at all what I signed up with AIM to do. I had wanted to be part of a church planting team. I decided to fast and pray over the course of a week to seek the Lord’s guidance. During this time two things happened. Firstly, a friend I hadn’t heard from for a long time messaged me to say they thought God was going to use me or guide me in a cool way. And secondly, at the end of the week, I received a missionary prayer letter which spoke unexpectedly of the importance of (and the desperate need for) missionaries in supporting roles. These were not just mere coincidences. I knew the Lord was guiding me to take another step of faith in the direction of the Short Term Coordinator role.
The God who provides
Once I had decided to serve in mission long term the Lord provided for my needs immediately. The day after my mobilising office’s orientation programme, before I really had a chance to tell anyone about what was going on, I had an offer of a room to move into whenever I decided to quit my job, and a place to store my things while I was in Africa, rent free. God also provided financial support from unexpected sources. After I handed in my notice for my job, my workplace decided to donate a large sum! Time and again the Lord provided unexpectedly and in big ways. It was humbling and exciting all at once.
On the Friday before the day we had to decide whether to book flights, I had raised 99% of my outgoing support and only 67% of my monthly support. I was bracing myself for the very real possibility that my departure date might be delayed. But by Monday morning the rest of my monthly support had come in. God had provided yet again – in abundance!
I wouldn’t be in Africa right now without the help of my mobilising office. They answered all my questions, provided training, ensured I had completed all the preparatory requirements, and offered advice and guidance. My mobiliser encouraged me and helped to keep me on track, and the AIM staff kept me in prayer. In fact, I learned that various staff had their personal church groups praying for me as well during support raising.
The Lord used the time of preparation to show me that he does provide for us, in his time and in his way. That he is personal, that he is trustworthy, but that I need to be seeking him first and obeying him, stepping out in faith. I’ve discovered that sometimes he lets me see only small segments of the road ahead, and that I need to trust him to lead me.