And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
— Matthew 28:18-20 ESV
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
— Acts 1:8 ESV
In a world that can be so loud and overwhelming, and as we ponder what it means to share the Gospel from these verses to go globally (or in our own backyards), allow me to share the still and quiet voice the Lord spoke to my husband and I to go serve internationally. God speaks to each of us individually and in different ways. For my husband and I, it was almost audible. God alone put Africa on our hearts. We could do nothing without sleeping, eating, praying, reflecting, studying Africa. There was never a question to how we were going to get there but when. We took Christ’s words very seriously when He commanded His disciples to “GO therefore, make disciples of ALL THE NATIONS” and “to the end of the earth.” So for us, why international missions? Because we see it as a command. Everyone has a different part of the body to serve in different areas and with different abilities – ours was the hands & feet in West Africa. With our family – 4 small kids and myself and my husband – we were doing ministry to local places, but we knew the Lord was calling us to go. Sometimes it’s overwhelming to try to get my point across. It was nothing about my life, my husband’s or my kids’, but it was all about reflecting Christ to the nations. No matter how hard it was to explain to others, it was a direct direction from the Lord for us to GO. Our goal was to be in the 10/40 window. This is the area where most of the unreached people groups live. We also had to learn a new language (French), but if the Lord was directing, He was leading.
We lived in France first for a few months. I homeschooled my 4 kids and my husband went to language school. I had a tutor so I could stay home with the kids. Then our visa was up and off to Benin we went. I remember when we lived in France we couldn’t believe how small the grocery stores were and not a huge selection on things like America. Well that changed when we got to Africa. The stores there were very little. (Like the size of a small Shell station here with some food – besides having a butcher and bakery in there) But I loved the open markets in Africa. The fresh meat, fish and veggies and fruit were amazing! Our favorite was the mini bananas & plantain.
Our house in Africa was a cinder block house with a wall around it. We had our kitchen outside and 2 bathrooms outside. No bathtubs. No air conditioning and now windows but screens on our house. We slept under bug nets. We had to filter our water and we didn’t have a car. But we had the presence of the Lord in our home and it was exactly where we were supposed to be. It was not easy however it would have been harder living in the states in disobedience.
We were on an all African team and to worship together on a weekly basis was amazing. Truly, words can’t express it. We got a glimpse of heaven and worshiping the King of kings together. Dancing in praise even if we didn’t understand each other’s language. though we were working on it! Ken was the children’s pastor in the village we had a church in, and to love on the kids was amazing. Again, not having the same language was hard but having the same salvation and fellowship of the cross…words can’t express the deep connection you have with those around you.
The time we spent in Africa was much shorter than we ever planned, however the experience we had will never leave us. There were many ways that God provided while we were on the field. I remember right before Christmas we didn’t have a chance to go to the market or capital to get a special feast in celebration of the Birth of our Savior – I was a little discouraged, but there was a knock on our door and it was another missionary not from our team that wanted to stop by and he gave us a chicken for me to cook for the family. He had no idea we weren’t able to go the market (we didn’t have a car) So GOD through this brother in the Lord delivered us a wonderful meal and we totally felt overwhelmed with HIS goodness. It was a special gift and still the years later, the tears still come. Living in Africa we learned not to take things for granted. We are a blessed people and we have much, and we got by with far less and we were happy. GOD provided so much for us and more and it was amazing to watch and have our 4 kids see in practical ways how GOD provided everything we ever needed. It was such a blessing too to receive gifts from home. They would come at the exact times we were in need of either encouragement or just something we needed – like one time someone sent 10 pounds of Starbucks coffee – what a gift :). We also got a bread maker that had the proper voltage for Africa and we baked bread everyday. We got by with far less and again – our lives we less cluttered to do the work of the Lord.
The huge benefits that we see from going to serve the Lord internationally is seeing our kids grow up and want to follow after the Lord to serve HIM in what ever way He calls. And we have 2 daughters that are nurses now that want to go back and serve globally. If for no other reason we went, that’s a huge blessing in itself! Missions will always be in our hearts. We must do it here first because the plane ride won’t change your heart for outreach among the nations and the lost. Someone told me – and you – now it’s time to pray about where we are to GO to spread the Gospel! Start here, pray and seek and go on short term trips across the seas – be ready for the ride, you’ll never be the same. Be flexible and open. We were and it changed our lives forever for the better. We can get off focused at times, but GOD is patient and He’ll guide you and I back and open doors you never knew were possible – I’m a walking testimony of that today! He can use the weak for HIS greater GOOD.
I love sharing our story. I love sharing how God brought us there. And I love sharing the work we did. Though it’s been lots of years since we’ve been back – the incredible ways God provided for us to touch, see and reflect Jesus there in a real way will never leave my heart as long as I live. God is faithful in this. Ask Him for the call. Be open to His leading to go across the waters if He chooses. As I’ve always shared, I will go through the doors until He closes them, not me. I want to be found faithful and true – it’s not about me – it’s all about the nations hearing the saving knowledge of Christ and to be saved from eternity separate from Him. Someone told you – who will you tell? Start with your neighbor and go from there. God is faithful and true. He makes NO mistakes. He will guide every step of the way. But ask yourself – is it me that should go?
Our missions team is here to serve you – please contact us if you would like to talk, pray and seek with others.
– Vicky Schar