My Story: Surrender–and the Dreams We Give Up

By Denise Rhoades

I had turned 40 in the spring of that year–and was still single. As in, never married. I had miraculously become a follower of Christ five years earlier (less than 10% of people do at that age. So yes, it’s a miracle!). I had briefly lived as a global worker in West Africa and was about to finish a Master’s in Missions. I felt only one gaping, jagged hole in this jigsaw puzzle of my life: a dream I’d held for nearly as long as I’d been alive. I wondered where I’d lost pieces along the way: for a husband. A family.

Path to a White Flag

On Labor Day weekend that year, my church was hosting a singles retreat in Branson. I had decided to not go; a friend cancelled on me last minute. But then there was my pastor’s wife. It’ll be fun!

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FREE PRINTABLE INFOGRAPHIC: 5 WAYS TO PRAY FOR GOD’S WILL AS YOU CONSIDER GOING OVERSEAS

It was a big “aha!” for me when I realized God wanted me to do his will even more than I did.

I used to think I needed to be alert for the smallest sign, the slightest indication of what He wanted. Wasn’t that being surrendered? I thought. But for me, I was a bit afraid of missing the signs. I ended up traipsing around on spiritual eggshells, deciphering some Christian version of the tea leaves.

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He Said/She Said/You Say? “Should I Go Overseas with an Organization?”

Part II: The “NOPE” Side of the Argument (and what not to do either way)

Missed Part I, the “yep” side? Grab it here.

Going overseas independently has its benefits–like autonomy, neutrality from agencies’ agendas, and flexibility. What do you need to know if you’re thinking in this direction? Don’t miss these important thoughts.

I chose to go the independent route because I felt that I already had (or was able to find) all of the services of a missions agency from other sources at a fraction of the cost.

But there are several advantages for being associated with a missions agency, including the following:

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He Said/She Said/You Say? “Should I go overseas with an organization?”

Part I: The “Yep” Side of the Argument

Agencies make you more effective.

Agencies differ, but most of them offer these services:

  • Placement. They tell you about openings and opportunities in the countries where they work.
  • Financial support. Agencies usually require you to raise your own financial support. However, they guide you in this process, giving you materials to give to potential supporters and helping you describe what you’ll be doing. Once you’re accepted by the agency, they provide your supporters with tax-deductible receipts.
  • Orientation. Crossing cultures is a demanding experience, both intellectually and emotionally. Good mission agencies can be of great help, since they know the culture where you’ll be going and how best to prepare you. They will recommend a language-training option and help you find your way around the country.
  • Supervision. We all need supervision to guide us in our work, help us learn from our mistakes, and encourage our development.
  • Member care. Early mission pioneers were pretty much on their own. Now more mission agencies look out for their people: their spiritual needs, their intellectual growth, their plans for furlough, the education of their children, and their preparation for retirement.

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#BestoftheBestFriday: Your First Year; Staying Emotionally Well; Aspiring to a Leadership Role

 

Getting a Great Start: Five Best Practices for Your First Year on the Field

Pioneers USA weighs in on your first year there: How will you wish you’d spent it?

While you’re at it, don’t miss this wise post from A Life Overseas: Tips For Your First Year.

Staying Healthy Overseas: Emotional and Mental Wellness

Elizabeth Spencer writes, “It is easy to get burnt out while living overseas. I know that, you know that, but are we doing enough to make sure we don’t get burnt out? The answer for me is almost always ‘no.'” Here, she offers wise advice to create longevity and health in your global work–reminding us all that there are many things, but only one is important (Luke 10:41-42).

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How Ready Am I? Self-Assessment for Global Work, Part IV: Cross-cultural Experiences

As a kid, I always thought the book of Jonah was about Jonah not obeying.

Duh. God said go to Nineveh. That’s why you were, y’know. Pickled in a fish.

I confess it wasn’t till as an adult, teaching a junior high Sunday school class, that I realized how much Jonah is about God’s heart for the nations—and what I saw as Israel’s snooty elitism.

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How Ready Am I? A Self-Assessment for Global Work, Part I

When I was 23, an editor position opened up at the publishing house where I was working. In the vein of having integrity, I approached my boss with my interest in the position.

“You don’t have the chops for that job,” he told me point-blank.

His blithe directness, to be frank, chapped my hide. But looking back now, there’s no doubt in my mind he was right. I’m not sure if I have the chops for that particular job now. Yet it did make me take a look at the job itself and gradually appreciate just how off my self-assessment was–as well as my understanding of the job itself. And honestly, I buckled down to eventually be the kind of person who could qualify for a job like that.

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He Said/She Said. You Say? “How can I know if God’s calling/leading me overseas?” Part II

Missed Part I? Grab it here.

Years ago my husband had a friend who was contemplating starting his own non-profit (oh. And he had a family with six kids. So there was that.)

Our friend decided to take forty days to fast and pray, in search of what he should do.

At the end of all this fasting and praying, my husband wanted to know: Did God show you what to do?

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He Said/She Said. You Say? “How can I know if God’s calling/leading me overseas?” Part I

I’ve written before that my husband’s and my decision to shuffle our family of six overseas wasn’t perhaps as clear as we would have liked. But when I finally arrived overseas, y’know the funny thing? Everyone’s story and path on how they got overseas was completely different.

None of us had heard an audible voice, to my knowledge. That would have been nice, considering all the times you wonder what in the world you’ve gotten yourself into; all the times you’re second-guessing because the work and the results didn’t look how you thought. Did I hear you right?

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“How Rich Should I Live?” Navigating Dilemmas of Wealth Overseas

money and wealthA friend of mine lives with her husband, helping migrants in Asia. She amazes me, you know. There are 40-50 malnourished kids who gather in their compound for a healthy meal and vitamins before school (my friend’s home is half home, half community center). They run businesses out of their home, training and empowering community members. They shuttle people to the hospital at all hours. They run a summer program, where kids are tutored by their teenage neighbors so they can excel in school.

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