Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Write for the BIOGRAPHICAL Genre (12/04/14)
TITLE: Strange Decade
By Stanley McMahon
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I have been home now for over a decade and as I look back and try to follow the lines of my journey I find them disjointed and awkward, hard to fathom and fit into a reasonable pattern to be able to say, ‘Ah, this was how the Lord led me and what He was doing. This is what He has been making me into.’
One of the challenges of the returning missionary is identity and another is occupation. Trying to figure the first out is a long-term thing; the latter needs a more urgent approach because food and shelter are basic questions that need answers.
So I spent the first year in a contact centre answering phones and doing bi-lingual work for a software company. During that time I was very conscious of the big question of life, ‘What about the Lord’s will?’ Having spent years in ministry, that was still the desire of my heart and where I felt called to.
In my second year I accepted a pastorate in a church that had supported us as missionaries. It was an independent evangelical church and had good people and great opportunities for growth. It also had enormous problems and deeply rooted fissures which proved to be its downfall and mine as well.
After four years in that role, and during a particularly difficult time, my tenure finished in tears – about a week of tears to be precise. I was exhausted in every way. I also had to deal with the loss of my father a few months later. 2007 was not a good year for me.
Still, food and shelter were still a priority and I needed a job. I tried to go back to the call centre environment but found that my mind needed a break as much as my heart, so I started working for a retail store in the back stage. At the time it was exactly what I needed – physical work which did not require much thought. However, it also meant taking a cut in wages, so it made it more difficult financially.
Two years later I was once again blessed with a church role. I felt I was ready for it and became the church co-ordinator for a local Baptist church. It was a three year contract, but it was a beneficial time for me, allowing me time to heal still further personally and minister to others as I co-ordinated the church’s events and mentored their organisations’ leaders.
In November 2012, my time in that role had finished, the leadership structure was changing and the staff was diminished, so I was once again searching for work and questioning what the Lord was doing in my life. In spite of my reticence, I went back to the customer service role, this time in a bank.
I honestly never thought I would be working for a bank but I have now completed nearly two years. I have found them to be both accommodating and supportive as employers, which was a real comfort during two serious life events that I have had to deal with during this time – my wife’s cancer (which is clear, praise God!) and my own burst appendix.
When I look back and consider these things I struggle to make sense of them and it seems that there has been no consistent pattern. I have also moved house six times and done a master’s degree in theology.
At the moment my conclusion is to accept that I must serve the Lord where I am, let Him make sense of the rest and if He chooses to move me back into full-time service for Him, then I am more than willing to do that. I am happy to be a disciple of Christ and I pray that He will give me an opportunity to share the knowledge of Him and of His Word that I have accumulated over the years. May His name be praised.
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