Feature

Who Will Go?

By

“Look, Dad, we’re moving!”
“No, honey, the water is moving, but the ship is standing still.” We were on our way to Africa, on a ship that was going too slowly to suite my dad.

Eventually we arrived and began our lives in a country called Gabon. Mom and Dad spent their time learning the Yinzebe language, while I played with my dolls and tried to make friends with our new Siamese cat.

Around our house were miles of rain forest, villages, and rivers and a great deal of tall grass. While Dad battled the grass, Mom tried to find enough fruit to make baby food for my brother. God took care of us, and we learned to love our new home and the people of Gabon.

After my parents learned Yinzebe, they began working at a small clinic, which later became Bongolo Hospital. The beds and waiting rooms were filled with people who needed not only physical healing but also spiritual regeneration through Christ.

Stories of Life and Death

Mitchell familyMy brothers and I grew up hearing about Jesus from Mom and Dad. They told us how He lived and about the wonderful things He did, how He suffered and died for us and rose from the dead three days later. My brothers and I believed in Jesus, asking Him to forgive our sins and come live in our hearts.

Sometimes Mom or Dad would tell us stories from when they were children in faraway places. My mother told us about how green the rice plants looked in Southeast Asia, about a baby bear her family had raised as a pet and about forts she and her friends had made with pine branches. Dad told stories of his father hunting man-eating tigers, of houses built on stilts and of exploring dark, underground tunnels dug long ago.

God had always taken care of them, even when soldiers came and took Mom’s parents captive; even when soldiers took the lives of my father’s parents. When I heard those stories, I began to feel fearful. One day, as Dad washed our car, I climbed up on the roof rack and asked, “If the soldiers came, they couldn’t get me up here, right?”

Words of Wisdom

The next year we went to America, and my father was asked to speak to churches about the work he did in Africa. If the church was nearby, our whole family went. Sometimes we dressed in African clothes and sang for the congregation! As Dad showed slides of Africa and the hospital, he told the churches that the African people needed Jesus. At the end, he always asked, “Who will go?”

Thompson familyI remembered his words so well that when my fourth-grade teacher asked me to tell our class about Africa, I wrote down my father’s sermon, ending with that question. My mother intercepted the intended speech, and instead I answered my classmates’ queries about Africa.

We returned to Gabon when I was 11. The following year my seventh-grade teacher, Miss Sather, gave me a schedule that would help me read the whole Bible in one year. As I read, I was troubled by what Jesus said about the things Christians will suffer before His return.

“Dad,” I asked, “what if I have to suffer like that?” Dad told me to ask Jesus my question and then read the Bible until I found His answer there.

Would Jesus speak to me? I wondered. I did what Dad told me, and the things I read confirmed my fears because they told about a time when Christians will suffer terribly.

Then I came to a verse that, strangely enough, comforted me, helping me to know that God is in control:

“If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints” (Rev. 13:10).

Later that year, I sensed the Lord speaking to me again. My family and some other missionaries in Bongolo were watching a video of a man speaking to a large group of young people in America. He told them that there are people in Africa who have never heard the name of Jesus. “Who will go?” he asked at the end. My heart pounded, and I wanted to cry. I felt as though Jesus was asking if I would go. In my heart, I answered “yes.”

A Change of Heart

After I graduated from high school, I wasn’t so sure. I had found good friends when I came to America to attend college, and I knew if I went to Africa or some other country, I would probably lose them. I decided not to serve overseas, but my heart wasn’t at peace.

A few months after I made that decision, I visited some missionaries in Haiti. As I watched them work, I just couldn’t understand how they could leave their friends to live in a foreign country. But during the next few weeks, as I continued to observe the missionaries, something happened in my heart. When I returned to the United States, I applied to Simpson Bible College (now Simpson University, Redding, Calif.) and began the application process to become a missionary with The Christian and Missionary Alliance.

Ten years later, after I had been studying, working and doing ministry at my home church, the C&MA appointed me as a career missionary to Cambodia. The plane ride to get there was easy compared with the first time my family had taken a slow boat to Africa! Like my parents and grandparents before me, I spent the first year learning a new language. Like them, I have fought with the tall grass around my house. And just like them, I am learning to love a new country and an unfamiliar people.

Jesus takes care of me in this new place—helping me to speak of Him, helping me to trust Him. Would you pray that I’d be faithful to tell the people here about Jesus? Would you pray for the people of Cambodia and the people in your life who need to hear about Jesus?

I’ve been waiting to ask this question since the fourth grade: Who will go?

Past Alliance Life Issues

Share

Get Involved...

Pray.

We cannot “Live the Call Together” unless prayer is central to all we do.
Pray with us »

Serve.

Is God calling you to service? We’re here to help you connect your passion with God’s purpose.
Serve with The Alliance »

Give.

Help build Christ’s Church by supporting the ministry and workers of The Alliance.
Give today »