One of my most vivid memories from my years at Philadelphia Biblical University is Ken Medema’s convicting song, “Moses.” The Chorale performed it multiple times over two years, and Ken Medema himself performed it for us in concert. The first time I heard it, I was fascinated by the way the music explains the words: the basso profundo tone of God’s comands, the scaredy-cat complaints of Moses, the gorgeous harmony of angels singing. Did I mention convicting? Never once did I sing it without God speaking directly to me. After all these year, it is apparently still burned into my brain, because recently I can’t get it out of my mind.
Back in Costa Rica after our extended home assignment, I have been praying that God would give me clear direction about new ministries, and give me the courage to respond with cheerful obedience. Just a friendly warning, both are dangerous prayers!
February 9, 2011. I am sitting in the office of the women’s ministry leader at ESEPA, expecting to be invited to direct short sharing sessions in small groups at several upcoming workshops. The vast majority of my ministry in CR has been in English, with missionary families. I feel totally inadequate to minister in Spanish, especially as a representative of the seminary…
How often has that tiny phrase transformed my life?! As I sit here watching, it happens again.
I begin the meeting certain that God wants me to agree to do the small groups, but I still think it’s a huge stretch for me. Then, to my horror, I realize that God’s plan is so much bigger than anything I could have imagined! In my head I hear the words from “Moses” repeating over and over again: “Not me Lord, I don’t talk so good…Take my brother Aaron, he can sing like an angel, talk like a preacher. Not me Lord!” (I do not miss the irony here: Moses was worried about speaking in whatever it was Moses spoke, and I’m worried about speaking in Spanish!) Meanwhile, like watching an avalanche in slow motion and being powerless to do anything to stop it, I watch God spend the rest of the meeting making it abundantly clear that I will now be teaching at Seminario ESEPA! I am signed up to write and teach half of the courses in our (did you catch that “our”, not “their”?) brand-new Certificate of Women’s Ministries program, as well as be on call for other women’s ministries.
I am struck dumb; what can you say when the Creator makes His will totally plain? He kindly reminds me that I did ask Him to be clear about His direction. For example, one of the courses I was asked to teach is Bible Study methods. I’ve taken this course twice at the college level and once at the master’s level, and I’m married to a professor who has taught it at the master’s level. About the only way this could get clearer is to find myself on the business end of a lightning bolt!
After the meeting, when I calm down a little, I am struck by an astonishing “coincidence”. In 1997, when we shared our vision for Gary’s future ministry here, we talked about churches whose pastor was not trained, but was named the leader only because he’d been a Christian a little longer than the others. Our hearts ached to come alongside these people, and train them how to study God’s Word and be godly leaders. I have just heard very similar stories of women in 2011 who are burdened to begin women’s ministries in their churches and communities, but have no training or experience, and come to ESEPA desperate for help. 15 years ago I could not foresee that that ache of my heart would be transformed into a desire to come alongside these women myself, and train them how to study God’s Word and be godly leaders.
But God knew.
So, after all these years of ministry experience (if you count playing the piano for Prayer Meeting we’re up to 37), I am still learning to trust God to do His work in spite of me. Yes, it’s high time I reviewed my Spanish grammar and vocabulary, and it looks like I’ll be studying adult education methods (fortunately, I’m married to a professor!). I plan to be as prepared as possible for this new and challenging ministry, but I’m trusting that God will do His work in the hearts and minds of the women of Costa Rica, and prepare them to serve their sisters in His Church.
NOTE: to see Karen do some teaching in Spanish, click here!