Laverne has lived in various mission contexts over the past twenty years
My parents inspired me for mission by showing their own passion. When we were little, Mum used to read us a lot of missionary biographies and that’s something I continued to do on my own as I grew older. As children, we even liked to put on shows for unsuspecting neighbours and church family to raise money for projects in different countries. I thought I would become a silent missionary because I was quite shy when I was growing up.
My parents lived a missional lifestyle by their hospitality, always inviting people over from the fringes of the community. They also enjoyed having missionaries come for dinner or to stay over, as they visited our church. We had strong connections with local churches in Siberia, Ibiza, Tanzania and Armenia. My dad was a surveyor and used that skill in some church building projects. I had opportunities to hear about the needs and ways we could serve using our God-given gifts and experiences. I also got to hear lots of accounts of incredible dependence on God in very practical everyday living and miraculous answers to prayer.
Caitlin served in the Arab world for six years and continues to serve as a sender
My grandmother sadly passed away when I was eight years old. She was a really godly lady and I knew she prayed for all her sixteen grandchildren daily. When I was 24 and preparing to head to the Arab world, two of my aunts told me that my grandmother had prayed that one of her descendants would become a missionary and that she thought that this is what I would end up doing.
We grew up in a rural town and there weren’t many opportunities to meet people from other cultures but I devoured books about other places and people who went to the unreached. I loved getting the chance to listen to visiting missionaries sharing at my church. I think my parents modelled dependence on God in small daily things, in attitudes to money, success and rest. That encouraged and enabled me to be willing to follow where I thought God was leading because I knew, and had experienced, that He was trustworthy.
James is currently preparing for long-term mission in the Arab world
Some of my fondest memories from childhood were of visiting missionaries coming to stay. Over the years my mum, who had a keen interest in world mission and had spent time in Sudan, Kenya and Somalia, had met missionaries from many organisations working in a variety of cultural contexts. My mum herself had the same memories of her childhood, recalling tales of missionaries who had stayed in her house and so sought to keep the tradition going of hospitality to those who had devoted their lives to sharing the gospel with those who had never heard. I remember one missionary to a tribe in Papua New Guinea sharing amazing stories of how he had to take bus and boat journeys, before embarking on a hike through the jungle to reach his new home. Yet more interesting than tales from the most isolated people in the world to those living in bustling Middle Eastern cities, was the mutual excitement and enthusiasm missionaries had when sharing about people turning to Jesus Christ.
This early exposure to mission intrigued me and gave me a desire to experience these settings for myself. My mum and I went to visit a lady who was working in North Africa, sharing the gospel through her work with disabled children. Spending time in a city where few spoke English and people were intrigued by our appearance and probably my twelve-year-old informal dress sense, I finally got a taste for the sort of life many of those who had sat in my living room had shared about. Yet to see people who were completely lost, those who had never known the truth of Jesus come to an acceptance of the gospel was incredible. It has profoundly impressed on me an urgency to tell others of what Jesus has done.
This article first appeared in the AWMLINK magazine. If this article has sparked an interest in global mission, do get in touch with Charlotte, mission mobiliser, on firstname.lastname@example.org