FIRST-PERSON: Answering God’s call

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)--In the fourth chapter of Matthew, we read the words of Jesus to His first disciples: “Come, follow me.”

It is an invitation that has been extended throughout the centuries since He first approached a small group of fishermen standing by the Sea of Galilee. Countless numbers of people have responded to Jesus since that day, committing their lives to follow Him wherever He calls them to serve. Their stories inspire and challenge each one of us to respond as well by giving of ourselves, our time and our resources so the nations of the world may come to know His wonderful name.

Missionaries Keith and Penny Stamps are an example of a couple who heard God’s call and followed despite numerous challenges. Their story is unique, yet representative of so many serving across our world today. Growing up as missionary kids (MKs), they knew firsthand the cost of following Christ as demonstrated through the lives of their parents. However, as a young married couple, they followed God’s call to Guatemala knowing there would be good days as well as challenging ones. But they also knew God’s call was stronger than any obstacle.

The greatest challenge to their call came when Keith was shot during a robbery attempt. Christians everywhere prayed for his recovery. As he recovered from his wounds, it was natural to think they might choose to remain in the United States. But recognizing God was still calling them to Latin America, they took a new assignment -- Nicaragua.

While visiting them in their home in Nicaragua several years ago, I observed their ministry among former guerrilla fighters. I heard them voice their understanding of God’s call no matter the cost. Their testimony serves as a frequent reminder of the incredible commitment of so many missionaries. Now, several years after my visit, they are serving once again as mission leaders in Guatemala. Their story is one of commitment to following Christ, and a testimony of what it means to love God and serve Him with all your heart.

In his book "The Call," Os Guinness describes the meaning of God’s calling in this way:

“[C]alling is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion and dynamism lived out as a response to his summons and service.”

What is God calling you to do during this special season of praying and giving so those who have never heard may know of the love of God? His call to each of us is unique and significant for accomplishing His great plan. But more than a one-time prayer or a one-time gift, God invites each of us to a daily relationship with Him through His Son.

Jesus said: "If anyone wants to follow Me he should forget about himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” During this Christmas season, let’s join Keith and Penny Stamps and over 5,000 other missionaries through our praying, giving and going as God calls us to help make His name known among the peoples of the world.


Lee serves as executive director-treasurer of Woman's Missionary Union.

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