Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Surrendered to God’s Call

Leslie Basham: According to Revelation 7, one day every nation, tribe, and tongue will join together in praise to Jesus Christ. A missionary named Tina is living in anticipation of that day.

Tina: If this is what all of history is moving toward, if I have not been created for myself, but I am to be part of that story, to bring people to that throne room safe, then that’s what I better be about.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Surrender, for October 22, 2018.

Today Nancy’s talking to a missionary named Tina about gaining a biblical perspective on life. I’m excited for you to hear this amazing woman of God share how the Lord has worked in her heart over the years. So, let’s jump right in.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Well, it is a great, great honor and a joy for me to welcome someone back to our studio today to share with our Revive Our Hearts listeners. You’ve heard from her in past years, but we want to catch up on her story and what God is doing in another part of the world through a woman who’s dedicated her life to serving Him.

Her name is Tina—well, actually, that’s not her real name, but she’s serving in a part of the world where there could be some security risks and some risks to the work of the Lord that’s going on in that part of the world. So we’re not going to name the country; we’re not going to name the real names of Tina and her family as we’ll hear from them over the next couple of days. But I want you to have a sense of what God is doing somewhere outside of our normal listening area.

This is a country in Asia where there is a tiny minority of followers of Jesus. And in a climate that’s not eager to welcome Christians or to embrace Christianity, God is alive and well and working in every part of the world, and you’re going to get a sense of that as we hear from Tina.

And so, Tina, welcome to Revive Our Hearts.

Tina: Thank you, Nancy.

Nancy: You and your family are on a furlough. You’re getting ready to go back to the country, where you have served now for sixteen years, in just a few days. I’m so thankful that we have a chance for our paths to cross and for us to catch up with each other and have this conversation.

Tina: Thank you, Nancy, so much for this opportunity.

Nancy: When we first met years ago, you were not married. You did not have children. And you were just getting ready to head to another country to serve the Lord. And you shared with me a sweet story about how something I had written had been a little piece of what God had used in your life to give you the faith and the courage to take this big step.

Tina: Yes. Actually, it was a recording that I heard of you. It was after I was completing my education, and I knew that the Lord was calling me to full-time mission service, but there was a lot I had to work through—leaving the United States. I was single at the time and didn’t have any prospects for marriage, and so I was just having to come to grips with what people would call, maybe, the sacrifices of going to the mission field and leaving this country and doing that alone without a mate.

And so my aunt at that time sent me a recording that you had done. And, really, in that recording you spoke about your life as a single woman and how that was not something you felt was a handicap or this great tragedy that had happened to you, but that, actually, it was such a great joy for you because it really freed you up to serve the Lord fully without any type of hindrance.

I didn’t know you before hearing this recording, but I began to think of you as this triumphant single woman. So it was something that really spurred me on, something that encouraged me that I can do this, too, for the Lord. And the Lord is worthy. He’s worthy of my service as a single or as a married woman.

Nancy: Yes. And we both know, having lived a number of years, both of us as single women, and served Him in that way, that we don’t always feel triumphant. There are times where there is a sense of loneliness or longing. And, yet, what you said is what has compelled us both over all those years, and that is that Christ is worthy of our lives and our service, whether we’re married or single. And in whatever situation God puts us, here in this country or in any place around the world, that’s a safe place to be, a good place to be.

Tina: Absolutely.

Nancy: And so you took that challenge. As you think back to those years when you were embarking on missionary service, you were getting training in the medical field so that you could use that, what was it, as you remember back now sixteen years ago, that impelled you, that you said, “I’m not just going to serve the Lord here in this country, but there’s a need in another place in the world. I’m going to offer myself up to the Lord for that purpose.” What was it that sent you in that direction?

Tina: Well, Nancy, actually, my story starts back at the age of sixteen in a youth group one Wednesday night when missionaries from our church who serve in Asia came to speak. I always tell them now, because they’re very much part of my story and the Lord has used them in my life, “I don’t remember anything that you spoke about that night.”

But I do remember this one thing: The wife encouraged us to read missionary biographies. I had not grown up reading missionary biographies. And she said, “My encouragement to you is to start with Elisabeth Elliot’s Shadow of the Almighty.

Nancy: Yes, a great book.

Tina: Something in me just said “yes” and so I did. I took her up on that challenge. I started with that book. In that book, here was Jim Elliot just as a young man and going off to college, and how the Lord took him to the mission field with Elisabeth.

But I saw in the life of Jim Elliot, this man, this person who literally just burned for the Lord Jesus Christ, that Christ was his passion and his desire, his great treasure and his love. His perspective on life was through this lens of serving the Lord Jesus Christ and loving Him with his whole life.

And I said, “Yes! This is something worth living for!”

And so after I plowed through that book, I plowed through everything I could get my hands on from Elisabeth Elliot. Then I started into other missionaries—Amy Carmichael and William Carey and Hudson Taylor (he’s one of my greatest heroes).

Nancy: Yes.

Tina: I was very impacted by these people who said, “Jesus is worth more than anything this world can offer me. He is the pearl of great price.”

So, truly, it is no sacrifice when the Lord calls someone to leave their country, their comforts, their language . . .

Nancy: . . . their family.

Tina: Their family. Everything they’ve known. And to go to another country, to go to another people for His sake, that they may know Him, too. And you say, “Well, that’s just my reasonable service of worship because He is so glorious and so great.”

So that was my teenage years. That was kind of the introduction to missions, through books, reading about great missionaries.

Nancy: And let me say, by the way, to parents listening to this conversation, what a great thing to have your children, from the time they’re little, reading these stories of men and women that God has used in His service to further His kingdom.

Tina: Yes.

Nancy: I grew up . . . I teethed on these biographies. I don’t know why, but my parents had a lot of those in our home, and that was what I read. I didn’t end up in another country, but that was what gave me a heart from an early age to say, “Christ, my life belongs to You, and however You want to use me and wherever that is, please do that.”

So this is a great word for moms, grandmoms, to read these to your children, to teach them to love those stories. I think that plants seeds of passion for Christ in the hearts of your little ones.

Tina: It does. And it really will.

So I decided, in those teenage years, that this is what I wanted to do with my life. But at that point, I had not actually stepped a foot outside of the United States. That opportunity came at the age of nineteen.

I had finished my freshman year in college. My church was going on a mission trip to Papua, New Guinea, and so I decided to join. That was really my first introduction to missions, and it was a pretty hard core introduction because we were living in the jungle. We were bathing in the river. We were eating tree bark. We were living among these people who obviously lived so differently than the way that I had ever experienced before.

Nancy: Sure. Did that scare you?

Tina: It did. And I was sick. And it was not comfortable. And I thought to myself out in that jungle, “This is not the American dream, and I’m going to go back home, and maybe, Lord, I’ll do short-term missions, but I’m not sure that this missionary thing is for me.”

That’s the point that I say I really became disobedient to the call that the Lord had begun to put on my life and the desires He’d put in my heart. It was for this one reason: This is not comfortable, and I want to be comfortable.

Now, I didn’t say it in so many words, but that was where my heart was, but the Lord was very patient with me. In the years after, as I completed college and then went off to graduate school, there were little instances, there were little points that, in time, and I believe were divine appointments that the Lord had for me. Missions always continued to come back up to the forefront, whether it was through books I was reading, through missionaries that were coming to speak, there were sermons at church.

Then there was a very interesting thing. I had the opportunity to study abroad in my senior year of college. I was in Germany, and I attended a church one Sunday. I struck up a conversation with a young woman in the church, a German gal, that Sunday, and somehow the topic turned to missions.

I told her about all of these things—how I originally felt called to missions and what had happened in Papua, New Guinea and the change of my heart. I am so thankful to God. This young woman had the presence of mind and the wisdom to speak directly into my life, not even knowing me. She said, “Your reasons for changing your mind about what you felt that the Lord had called you to are not godly reasons, and you need to reconsider what He had originally led you to.”

Nancy: Wow!

Tina: That just about knocked me over.

Nancy: Sure.

Tina: But I really felt that, “This is the Holy Spirit speaking through her.” So I began to open up myself again to the possibility that, “Okay, Lord, what do You want to do with this one, precious life that we’ve each been given? What do You want to do with this?”

After that I went off to graduate school. During graduate school, I had a very heavy load of studies. But I had the opportunity at that time to take a course that was called, “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement.” It’s taught in many places all over the world.

I always say it was not a course that changed my life, but it was the way, especially in the early weeks of this course, that they opened up God’s Word. From Genesis to Revelation, I saw this theology of missions that, despite growing up in wonderful Bible teaching churches, I had never seen this thread before of God’s heart for His glory and God’s heart for the nations, that they would all come to Him to give Him the glory that He is so due.

Nancy: Yes.

Tina: When I saw that thread going from Genesis to Revelation, even starting back with Abraham, where God says, “I’m going to bless you, Abraham, but that’s not where it ends. I’m going to bless you so that you can be a blessing.”

Nancy: Yes.

Tina: And then you go over to Galatians 3, and you see what was being talked about there. Galatians 3 exposits that verse, and it says that God preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham saying, “Through you all the nations will be blessed.”

How were they blessed? Because eventually, through the line of Abraham, then we have the Messiah, the Savior of all the nations.

Nancy: Yes.

Tina: So Abraham was blessed, but he wasn’t blessed to keep it to himself. He was blessed to be a blessing.

And so, Nancy, as I began to see all of this, my whole perspective on life was just absolutely just shaken to the core. And this thought came through that, to my shame, I had never realized before, “You weren’t created for yourself!”

Nancy: Yes.

Tina: I didn’t know that! “You weren’t created for the American dream, so you could go and pursue the American dream. You weren’t created so that you could go and grab all you can get for yourself. You were created for the glory of God, that through your life, the Lord Jesus Christ will receive the glory that He is so due.”

Nancy: Yes.

Tina: And as I said, that just rocked my world. When I saw all of that, and when I saw that, as you get to Revelation, the culmination of all this, in Revelation 7 there’s this throne room scene. Then finally all of God’s Word throughout all of history, from Genesis and then working up to that future time, Revelation 7, all the nations, the tongues, the tribes, the peoples are going to be there. And what are we all going to be doing? We’re going to be worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ.

Nancy: Yes.

Tina: So, Nancy, if this is what all of history is moving toward, if I have not been created for myself, but I am to be part of that story, to bring people to that throne room scene, then that’s what I better be about.

Nancy: Yes. And that’s true, or supposed to be true, of all of us, whether you get called to serve wherever you live here in the United States or in some other country that welcomes the gospel or that doesn’t welcome the gospel. Every one of our lives is made for Him, through Him, by Him, to Him, are all things.

Until we get that settled in our lives—my life exists, not for me, but for God and for His glory and for His kingdom purposes in this world—we’re going to be floundering. We’re going to be not fulfilling what God made us to do. We’re messing around.

It’s a vision that we ought to be teaching children and high school students and college students and adults. It’s for every age, every nationality, every place in the world, every culture, every era. The kingdom of God that is unfolding, that is being birthed around the world, this is what He cares about. And this is what we were created to care about.

So when you took that perspective’s course, God had been preparing you for this, but it really gripped your heart in a new way. I want to say, if you ever have a chance to take that perspective’s course, do it. Now, you might be thinking, Well, if I do that, I might end up on the mission field. You might. You might not.

Tina: It’d be wonderful if you did.

Nancy: But you will end up having a greater passion for the glory of God, wherever you are, and that’s what really matters. So I can’t recommend that course highly enough. And you can see that Tina hasn’t been the same ever since.

This is a vision that has gripped her heart and her life and has directed her steps. You could not have written the script for how God has taken your life. You finished your medical training, your graduate work, and then you made plans to go to the mission field in this Asian country as a single woman.

Did you assume that you would stay single, that that’s the way you would serve the Lord long term? What were you thinking back at that point?

Tina: Yes, very much. Like I said, there was very much a process that I had to go through of thinking about: Okay, I know that I’m going to be gone from family for a long time. I know that it’s going to be a new language to learn. I know that it’s going to be a totally different culture. And I know that I’m going without a husband. And, can I be okay with those things?

One by one, the Lord, by His grace, just showed me that He is more than enough, that He actually, as the Scripture says, “He is my husband.”

Nancy: Yes.

Tina: I really did not think that I would ever be married because I thought, I’d been in the United States for these twenty-some years, and there’s lots of Christian men around, and I have not found anyone that I thought the Lord would have me be married to.

So, definitely now, as I’m going off to this country where there are not a lot of believers, I did not expect that I would find anyone that the Lord would have for me. But I was okay with that. Like Nancy Leigh DeMoss, I was going to be this triumphant, victorious, single woman for the Lord, and He was more than enough, Nancy, truly. So that was not really an issue. The Lord really took care of that in my heart, and I had a great peace about that.

Nancy: I want to just emphasize, and I think, Tina, you would affirm this, too, that, even when you take those steps of faith and obedience and surrender, it doesn’t mean that it’s always going to be easy. It doesn’t mean that you’re never going to have unfulfilled longings, that you will never wish for something different.

But I think once God really has your heart, then He keeps drawing you back to, “This is not about you.” This is about God, His kingdom, His glory, His beauty, the wonder of the nations knowing Christ.

So we could make it sound overly romanticized that serving the Lord as missionaries in this country that doesn’t welcome Christians or missionaries with open arms, that this is something . . . People could listen and think, You’re just an amazing woman. And I think we would both say, “We are poor and weak and inadequate and needy women.”

Tina: Oh, and so ordinary, so ordinary, Nancy.

Nancy: But, like that little boy giving his loaves and fishes to Jesus, He takes, and He does something with it. He multiplies them, and He feeds multitudes with them. We’re just offering up our lives and saying, “Lord, do with me what You want.”

And that’s what you did, not knowing the script that God was going to write for your life, not knowing that you’d be serving the Lord for, now these sixteen years in that country, and now have a husband and three children—we’ll come back to that in just a moment. You didn’t know what God had in store. But you knew that He was God, and that He was good, and that He would be faithful.

So you went, and—we’re just going to tell the short version of this story—but as you went to this country to serve the Lord, the Lord brought a man into your life who was a believer in that country.

Tina: Yes. I was serving in a mission hospital in this country, and the man who is now my husband . . .

Nancy: We’re going to call him Daniel.

Tina: Okay. So Daniel also happened, in God’s providence, to be serving in this hospital. We really just crossed for just a couple of months. I had been listening to what the other doctors had been saying about him. He was not from a Christian background. He still remains the only believer in his family. He came to the Lord during medical school. But I heard them talking about him, how he had come to the Lord out of false religion and was serving the Lord.

I was watching him as well, and I was so impressed because he was a very humble, gentle man. He prayed with our patients. He spoke to people about the Lord. So my heart was very much drawn toward him, but I had no thought that we would ever be married. He was a national. I was a foreigner.

Nancy: And it probably didn’t enter your mind immediately that God would have him be your husband.

Tina: No, not at all. As a matter of fact, there were people all around us that were trying to get him married. He was a very eligible bachelor, and so people were bringing all these suggestions for all of these other potential mates for him. I was just kind of in the background, listening to all this. I had no idea that the Lord would ever bring us together.

Nancy: And through a whole series of circumstances that you never could have scripted, God did bring you together, and you became his wife, and the two of you have continued serving the Lord in this country. Then God began to bless you with children.

Tina: Yes. God has given us three children.

Nancy: And now, over these years, you and your husband have continued serving the Lord, raising your family in that country. We’re going to talk in the next program about some of what you’ve experienced in this season of serving the Lord as a missionary.

But before we close today’s program, I just want you to speak, Tina, to someone who’s listening today, thinking about what their future looks like. Maybe there’s a younger woman listening today who’s thinking about her future and what God might have for her. Maybe she’s thinking, Anything but the mission field, or I’m not sure I would want to do whatever it is I think God may be calling me to.

How would you encourage her now that you’ve seen the faithfulness of God in your life as you’ve said “yes” to Him all these years?

Tina: Well, Nancy, I think that it all starts with God, who is the greatest reality, the greatest being in all the universe. If we can understand this perspective—that God has created me, that God has given me a purpose, and it is so much beyond just my one life.

Nancy: Yes.

Tina: I think, Nancy, if we can be radically God-oriented about the perspective of our lives and what we want to do with our lives, it really does not matter that I end up in Asia or Africa or the United States. If I understand that Jesus Christ is the greatest treasure in the universe, if I can understand that I may, here in this world, just have thirty or fifty or eighty or ninety years, it’s very short.

Nancy: Just a blip on the screen.

Tina: Yes. It’s a vapor, the Bible says. But eternity is coming, and eternity is where we’re all going to be with Him. Those who know and love Him are going to be with Him. We’re going to worship Him and serve Him forever.

I want to use this life to prepare for the day that I stand face to face with my Master. I want to use my life to direct other people to come to know Him and to worship Him and to be there on that day.

So I really think, Nancy, if we can have this God-oriented perspective, if we can say, “Lord Jesus, here I am. And, yes, I may have fears about what You are calling me to, but You are so worthy. I trust You will do the right thing with my life.” Romans 8:28 says that, “Even all things work together for good.”

And so even those things that may be fearful, that may be discouraging . . . They will come. The mission field is not romantic, and normal life here in the United States or anywhere in the world is not romantic. We all go through difficult, discouraging times, but the Lord will use all of those things for our good and for His greatest glory.

So step out in faith. That’s what I would say to that woman. Ask God. Just be willing to ask the question: “Lord, You created me for Yourself, not for myself. What do You want to do with me?” I have no doubt, if that is a sincere question from the heart, that the Lord is going to answer and honor and lead that woman in the right way.

Leslie: That was Tina, a wife, mom, and missionary in Asia. She’s joining Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth over the next few days to share from her heart about trusting the Lord’s plan for her life, even when it takes you to the other side of the world.

We’re able to bring you stories like this one because listeners like you support the ministry financially. When you give a gift of any size this month, we’d like to send you the brand new Revive Our Hearts wall calendar for 2019.

This year the design is based on Seeking Him, the workbook Nancy co-authored with Tim Grissom. When you hang this calendar in your home, it’s an opportunity to be reminded daily of the Lord’s goodness and grace.

If you haven’t requested the calendar yet, it’s not too late. You can still get the calendar when you support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts this week with a gift of any amount. Just go to ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1–800–569–5959. Ask for the wall calendar when you call with your gift.

Tomorrow Nancy will pick back up in her conversation with Tina to talk about Tina’s experiences with culture shock and how she handled the disappointment and loneliness. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants you to know that you’re created for the glory of God. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.