Called By God - Literally!

This story appeared in the First Prebyterian Church's monthly newsletter in January of 2003.

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It all started with a hypothetical rant about 12 months ago.  Frustrated with corporate America, keeping up with the Joneses, and searching for more meaning in life, I said, “We should just quit our jobs and become missionaries or something.”  After I uttered these words, a pregnant silence hung in the air.  Then, through the stillness came a small voice.  It was my wife, who said, “You know… we really could do that.” 

Gabby, the  implementation expert, was able to outline the steps required to pull off such a feat.  The more we talked, the more practical it started to sound.  Worried that my well-thought-out life (job, 2 cars, house, kids, PTA meetings, summer barbeques, etc) was now being scrapped for a new plan, I panicked and I said something like, “Yeah… but people who do that are either retired or called by God or something.  I don’t know if that’s us.”  We tossed the idea aside… or at least we thought we had.

Sometimes God is a healer.  Sometimes God is a counselor.  And… we have come to find sometimes God is like the kid in grade school who always poked you in the side REALLY HARD between your ribs to get your attention.  After our conversation that day, it seemed that everywhere we turned, God was trying to tell us we shouldn’t let the idea die.  We would have a Sunday morning breakfast discussion about how doing mission work would bring up too many uncertainties and fears and then we would go to Sunday School and hear the gospel of Matthew:  “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”  In a random conversation with a friend, I asked about an old college buddy only to find out he just went to Ecuador to do work with the Peace Corps.  We open up a daily devotional for the first time and it says to let go of the stability of our daily routine and seek God on the fringes of life. 

The signs kept coming weekly or even daily.  We couldn’t dismiss them as coincidence.  We even started telling people about our idea and inquiring about potential programs.  Still the signs weren’t blatant enough to get us to commit to a particular mission.  We wanted a slap-in-the-face, ice-cold shower, hit-on-the-head by a falling grand piano kind of sign.  Heck!  Even an infomercial would have been great!  I can see it now…

“Don’t delay!  Call now to buy your ‘George Foreman’s Grillin’ Machine’ for only $39.95!  Just mention Jesus’ name to our operator, and we’ll include a free mission trip to the developing country of your choice!” 

Well, we all know the Good Lord doesn’t do infomercials (though I THINK He had a hand in a couple of episodes of Andy Griffith).  What you may not know is He DOES make phone calls!

One Sunday afternoon in December, we sat at the kitchen table working our way through some leftover meatloaf and, once again, discussing the idea of mission work.  At this point, we were frustrated, saying, “I wish a mission opportunity would just jump out at us!”  That’s when we got the call – literally!  Gabby answered the phone, “Hello?”

“Hello!   This is Katy!”   (Gabby thinks to herself, “who the heck is Katy and why is she interrupting my tasty lunch?)

Katy Bedunnnah went on to explain she was with Mission Presbytery’s Maya Quiche Presbytery Partnership.  She had seen our e-mail asking about long-term mission opportunities.  She was calling to let us know there were two last-minute cancellations, opening two spots for the February 13-24 trip to Guatemala.  The trip is an extension of the partnership to support Maya Quiche’s Evangelical Committee, whose charter is to plant new churches in rural communities, create better literacy and theological education, provide advocacy for community health, and support agricultural community development projects.  She had us at “Hello.” 

Why Guatemala?  Here are some statistics.

66% of Guatemalans are without electricity;
86% never have the opportunity to attend school past the 6th grade,
87% live below the poverty line;
90% show symptoms of malnourishment;
100% have stories to tell and lessons to teach. 

While our itinerary has us installing two computer labs, visiting past work projects, and distributing 1200 pair of reading glasses in 23 villages (many have not read the Bible in years due to poor eyesight, and others cannot see well enough to sew, and therefore, cannot earn a living), we have heard from past trip participants that the true power of the trip is simply experiencing God in the daily lives of the Mayan people.

So with the spiritual and financial support of First Presbyterian Church, we will be accompanying thirteen others from Mission Presbytery on the journey. We cannot wait to discover what God has waiting for us.  Will this short 11-day trip lead to something much more for us?  We hope so.  We’ll certainly be looking for the signs.  Until that time, we look forward to seeing Christ face-to-face in the eyes of strangers.   We cannot wait to return and share the experience with you.   Please keep this mission team in your prayers.

God Bless,
Scott and Gabby Dannemiller

* for more information on Mission Presbytery’s partnership with CESSMAQ, visit http://www.main.org/cessmaq/

If you have any questions, comments,
or advice for us, drop us a line!.