My core call continued to develop in my heart as Bob and I poured our lives into students at the University of Texas.
The more time I spent on campus, the more convinced I became of the importance of winning students to Christ, building them in their faith, and sending them to the world. It motivated me to share this vision with students in our leadership, and this helped to solidify God’s call on my heart and lifeThen, some close friends paid us a visit and asked us to lead a short‐term mission team to, what was then, the Soviet Union.
The Berlin Wall had fallen and doors to communist countries swung open. After a lot of prayer and struggling to overcome all kinds of barriers, Bob, myself, and 70 others moved into areas all over the Soviet Union, sharing the gospel with university students there. Our team lived in Moscow; we witnessed the total collapse of communism. We were there when the Soviet flag was lowered and the Russian flag was raised.
On campus, students responded to Jesus Christ. We started a church in the city. Although it was a very difficult place to live, we knew we were right where God wanted us. During those difficult years, my core call was tested. Was I willing to live in harsh conditions for the sake of the Gospel? So many times I’d lament the frigid temperatures and complete lack of comfort, but praise God for the privilege of being part of such an amazing time in history.
About three years into our time in Russia, I got very sick. We returned to the U.S. for what we thought would be one month. God had other plans for us. Due to the severity of my illness, we ended up in Oregon (where Bob’s family lived and all of our “stuff” was stored). We watched one month turn to two, and two quickly became six, and within two years (because of my health) we left staff. It was a confusing turn of events to say the least. Yet, this change of direction was clearly from the Lord. We had absolutely no control over my health or our circumstances. We had to believe the Lord had something else in mind.
For the next ten years I spent the majority of my time at home, in bed. Bob became a pastor at our home church. His wide array of responsibilities included missions and the college ministry. Even though I was unable to work full‐time, I continued to disciple students. The weekly gathering of a big group of student women, from all over the city, in my home quickly became my favorite time of the week. In addition to studying the Word and praying, we talked about Win, Build, and Send – how to impact students on campuses all over Portland with the Gospel.
My core call, which began to take shape years before, was still fundamental to the choices I made and the way I spent what little energy I had. Logistically, my life had changed, but God’s call remained consistent and true.
Last summer, Bob and I spent almost six weeks with a group of nine students on Summer Project in Italy.
Every Sunday night we’d squeeze around the kitchen table and talk about God’s call, following the steps I’ve outlined in previous chapters. Over the course of our time together, the seniors on the project worked on, processed, and created their “core call” statements.
They come from a variety of backgrounds, but all remain involved in Cru’s leadership on their campuses and will graduate soon. At this point, three of them are seriously considering a short‐term STINT with Cru, two plan on teaching school, and one is applying for Cru staff. Here are their Core Call statements:
During those nights around the kitchen table, sometimes after a huge scoop of gelato we talked about a lot of issues surrounding God’s call. My friends asked all sorts of great questions, some of which I’ve included here because they’re frequently asked.
I will provide some answers, but I’m acutely aware of the fact that this process is a spiritual one. It takes time logged with Jesus. Reading His Word and talking and listening to Him in prayer. It takes faith and a willingness to sacrifice our will for His.
Perhaps provide a little more information here about spiritual process. What does this mean or entail? How will we know when we have God’s answers for us?
As I mentioned earlier, God’s call is real and also mystical. It’s different for everyone and yet very similar. In addition to following through with this study I encourage you to discuss these things with your friends and spiritual leaders.
About half‐way through our Sunday night discussions one student realized that his core call was similar to everyone else’s in the group. He asked, “Aren’t all believers called to the same thing? If so, why come up with a core call?”
A great question. Yes, we’re all called to follow Christ as His ambassadors. We’re all “Image Bearers” and called to live for Christ and share the Gospel. Yet, we’re all unique individuals particularly gifted by God for His purposes. How I live out God’s call in my life will be different from how you live out His call, because we’re different from one another.
How do I know if I’m following God’s call or my own desires?
First, this is a good question to ask yourself throughout your life. We’re all prone to satisfy our own desires. The fight between the flesh and the Spirit is detailed in Scripture and is one we’ll fight until we’re in the presence of our King.
However, it’s this very issue that sits at the heart of an un‐surrendered life. Take note that our “own desires” are often masked by what looks like a noble pursuit – like the guy who wanted to first go and bury his father and then follow Jesus (Matthew 8). Often, what seems to us, and to those around us, to be the right thing to do might actually rooted in a desire to make sure everything’s in place before we say “yes” to God’s call.
“I’ll go wherever God calls me, but not until I get married because it wouldn’t be good or safe for me to go alone.” The desire to be married isn’t wrong unless that desire holds you back from an open‐handed and surrendered life.
I encourage you to sort through your desires. How do they compare with God’s work in and through your heart and life? Developing faith and trust is a huge part of following Christ. It’s a challenge for everyone to trust Him to take care of our every need – emotional, physical, mental, spiritual or social.
Continue to craft your core call – in pencil. Here are a few ideas to help you in the process.
If you’re not particularly good at writing out your thoughts, tell a friend what you’re learning and ask him/her to be your scribe and write your thoughts down as you share. This is another great idea! Sometimes having a soundboard can be helpful to anyone!
Remember, ultimately what you’re aiming for is a statement, which you can embrace and remember, and, most importantly, expresses your core call.
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