Jean: A little like Jonah, minus the rebellion and running away.
This week I sat down with my friend Jean. We met in a small group ladies’ Bible study. In the year that I’ve known her she has been raising funds, along with her husband, in order to be missionaries to the Middle East working with Muslims. Since our Bible studies are relatively short, the story of how Jean became called to minister was a mystery to me until now.
In 2004, her husband went on a mission trip with his church to Peru. He loved it and told Jean that she should go next year. Since they have two small children they set up a rotation. They decided to take turns every year ministering to people. In 2005 when it came to be Jean’s turn she was gone for just a week but came back changed. She told Stephen “I can’t go again because I won’t want to come back.”
Stephen said “You’re crazy.”
Jean said “I’ll pray about that.”
The call on Jean’s heart was real and unwavering. Another year passed and again it was Stephen’s turn to go. The same call that was so pronounced on Jean’s heart was now in Stephen’s as well. Together they prayed about what the Lord would have them do, spoke to their pastor, and decided to move forward into missions.
The process of becoming a missionary is arduous. They participated in a week long interview with the Mission Society which was accompanied by a 25 page application detailing their theology and aptitude. The Mission Society assured them that they would be “great because you know nothing about missions.”
I asked Jean how they decided on the Middle East. Her response was that they were going to go to the 10/40 window. They wanted to reach those who were not being reached with the Gospel at all. 95% of new missionaries go to fields where there is already an established work. That leaves just 5% to minister to a world that remains mostly untouched. Because they both felt called to be part of that 5% it limited where they would go. Through the process of determining where the Lord would have them serve both Jean and Stephen both felt a specific calling to work with Muslims. Not only do they love them, they have researched their needs and culture. Reaching a Muslim with the Gospel is a lengthy process and one that requires patience and respect. Discipleship of converts is a critical part of their ministry training. In Muslim culture if a man becomes a Christian he then can tell his brother and his father and share the Gospel that way. They are purposeful in their approach which is a slow spread of truth throughout the Muslim community in which they will live.
In addition to reaching the lost, they will also be teaching converts things we take for granted like teaching a Sunday School class or leading a Bible Study.
One of the areas of concern that has come up with Jean at Bible study, and came up in our interview was how hostile some Christians are toward Muslims. Some don’t think they are reachable and they try to discourage Jean and Stephen and what they are trying to do. This shocks me. Did God not call Jonah to preach to the Ninevites? He calls us to preach the Gospel to all. Praise His name that this family heard God’s call and answered “yes!”
I often wonder how will I know if God calls me to do something? Jean’s story like so many others confirms that when God calls He makes it clear. No doubt Jean and Stephen will be blessed for their “Here am I!” attitudes.
God has blessed me with a friend like Jean. I know she will be a blessing to those in the Middle East who she loves and ministers to. Please pray for their family as they prepare to serve in the Lord ministering to Muslims. If you would like to donate you can do so by visiting www.themissionsociety.org/go/give and entering their number 392.
You will have an opportunity to hear Jean speak in May at our next Women of Acts event. Details about this will be coming soon!