Life was going well. My husband and I lived in Texas and had been in seminary for three years preparing to serve the Lord. We wanted to go and change the world for Jesus. We thought about all those wonderful places we would go and tell people about his love and compassion. We were ready to fulfill Mathew 28:19-20 in our lives, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” That particular word “nations” made the Great Commission so appealing and fun. After all, isn’t that the reason why we went to seminary? Surely God had a beautiful place for our family to go to the ends of the earth to preach the Gospel.
“Yes Lord,” I said; “send me, I’ll go!” Then the phone began to ring, and it was God!
There is a saying that I learned pretty quickly, “Be careful what you wish for.” The call came in from a church in a very small town in East Texas that was being obedient to God in reaching out to the unchurched Hispanic community. They thought we would be a good fit to work together and share Jesus, en Español. At that moment I questioned God’s plan. Either he was confused about “the nations” or I was confused about my calling. This sweet little town not shown on the map, located in Texas, was only a few hours away. I could drive my car and arrive on the same day. Lord, are you sure this is the right location? It didn’t look like the ends of the earth to me.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). Remember God’s phone call? Remember that sweet town I told you about that is not on the map? Keep it in mind because a year later God and I talked again and we made an agreement. I said, “Lord, I will go, but let me stay home. Let me raise my children and when they grow up maybe you will send us to a place far away to be missionaries. My husband can serve you, and I can just pray for him from home.”
That didn’t go well either. I learned a new southern saying, “Bless your heart.” At first I thought it was a sweet thing to say. It didn’t dawn on me then that in Texas this is a saying that people use when they feel sorry for someone. Well, “Bless my heart,” because three months later I was signing a contract to begin a new job as an elementary teacher. You see, God’s calling is personal. We serve as a family, but God has a unique purpose for each one of us individually.
I’m so glad God’s plan is better than mine. I can’t imagine my life if he went my way. I know there are situations in life when it is difficult to trust and follow his direction. We want to make sure our family is taken care of. We want all the pieces of the puzzle to be in place. We look around and think we got it, but the truth is we don’t. God knows better. He wants to show us that there is a greater purpose and we can trust him. There are other moms, dads, and children, in desperate need of love and hope that only Jesus can give. When did I make this about me? God doesn’t call us to step back and remain in a safe place to enjoy ourselves. He calls us to feel the urgency to share his plan of salvation with this suffering world.
I was not mistaken entirely. God did call me to be a missionary, just not the way I thought. I began teaching and I quickly realized that God opened this huge door so that I could share his love. Every year I have a class of about twenty students. Twenty families that I get to pray for so that they can be reached with the Gospel. I see my students with love convinced that God brings them into my life so that they can come to know Jesus. Soon my parent conferences turn into prayer appointments and an opportunity to share words of life with them. The Lord opens my eyes to see the need at hand. He opens my ears to hear each family as they tell their concerns, dreams and desire for something new and fresh in their life. He opens my mouth to let them know that there is hope.
When Jesus is the center of our lives, we don’t just get jobs and live life for our sake, we become God’s hands and feet. Everything we do is to bring Glory to God. We are missionaries in the place where he places us. It might not be the place of our choice, or the ends of the earth, but it’s God’s chosen place to bring his Kingdom. “Yes Lord,” I said; “send me, I’ll go!” And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Margarita Garcia is originally from Mexico. Married to Abraham Garcia for 19 years, they have four children, Abraham, Jaira, Itzel, and Gael. Together they serve the Hispanic community in Kaufman, Texas. She has a passion for serving Latina women and walking alongside with them in their journey for God.She holds a B.A. in Biblical/Theological Studies from Baptist University of the America in San Antonio, Texas and a M.Ed in Educational Leadership from Dallas Baptist University in Dallas, Texas.
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