TITLE: My Journey to the Mission Field October 25, 2018
By Marlene Custer
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Journey to the Mission Field
Fourth-grade Geography class had my attention. Through the pages of books, I visited far-away places like Norway, Africa, and Asia. An overwhelming desire to visit and experience another culture gripped my inner being. When missionary speakers came to my church, I was on the front row, focused on their slides and listening to their stories.
Mission work intrigued me, and I fully embraced The Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19. I sang with gusto, “I’ll go where you want me to go....”. But the logistics never seemed to work out. I graduated from high school and entered college to study elementary education, a good career for mission opportunities. I met and married a man who shared my vision, but our desire never materialized.
Children arrived, even two from an Asian country. Perhaps this is how we would be involved with another culture, I thought. Then we began a business that required being on-call around the clock. Our hope was to build a prosperous business and give the profits to missions. The business grew, and our children began leaving home. My thirst for knowledge and greater understanding of other countries and cultures was somewhat satisfied by leading the mission program in our church, and heading up Mission Week at the Christian school where I taught.
We were ready for a break from the stress of our business, when we received an offer for it that was almost too good to be true. Now my husband could take early retirement and be more involved in the leadership of our church. Realizing our dream of going to another country was not an option at this time, because now we were caring for our parents.
However, there was still a nagging desire to actually go to another country. One by one our parents slipped away. Only my father was left. One evening as I read the newspaper, I was drawn to an obituary of a woman in a nearby community. There were several nice things written about her, but at the end it noted, ‘She always wanted to do mission work, but she spent her life caring for her mother.’ It was an admirable tribute, but it haunted me. What would my obituary say?
Soon after that I was impressed with the desire to downsize our closets and possessions. I also felt there were things we could do to get ready for a mission assignment, even though we were not free to go just yet. We signed up for a required Cross Cultural Orientation seminar.
Meanwhile, my father’s health deteriorated. Less than two weeks after we attended the seminar, my father passed away. The day of his funeral we went back to the church where I grew up. We were ushered to our seats on the front row of the sanctuary. When I was seated, my eyes gravitated to a banner stretched across the front of the church. It read, ‘World Missions: The time has come. Mark 1:15”
Just a few months later, we were taxiing down the runway on the first leg of our journey to an assignment in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
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