Responding to the Lord’s call:
My journey in getting to Radius was quite unique and begins way back in 2012. That December, I went to the Urbana Missions Conference as a college student. It was there that the Lord grabbed my heart for missions among the unreached and unengaged. I remember it like it was yesterday. As I spoke with one of the seminar speakers, they asked me, “Have you ever considered that there are places in the world you could never go as a “missionary” but could go as a scientist?” That question still rings in my ears.
For a majority of the world’s remaining 3,100 unreached, unengaged people groups, going on a “missionary visa” is not an option. I began to wonder what it might look like for the Lord to use my degree, talents, and skills as a platform to live a kingdom-driven life amongst those our Father has called us to reach.
Before I knew it, there was an incredible opportunity before me to join a particular team and location as a marine biologist. Yet, over the course of the next 5 years, I experienced obstacle after obstacle to actually joining the team on site. I was ready to leave everything, to move, and to give my life to this call. I had confirmation from godly council and felt the Lord’s confirmation after a vision trip. Everything was a go and yet I still hadn’t made it to the team.
But then, something unexpected happened. After a call with my organization, they asked that I go to a year-long training with a group called Radius International?!?! As a third culture kid, born outside the US, who has been in ministry for the last few years, this was a hard pill to swallow. But I trusted that God knew what was best and, with somewhat gritted teeth, submitted to the wisdom of those who have gone before me. I knew already that I didn’t know what I didn’t know, but wasn’t sure exactly how much that was. I was sure, however, that finishing well is a challenge for those into pioneer missions, especially in a Muslim setting. Going to the unreached and unengaged is one thing, but staying for 15+ years until a healthy church is planted is another. The organization I was with really cared about the longevity of its missionaries and they said that Radius is the best training school out there.
Why I am glad and what I learned:
So here I am, by God’s grace, in my second semester of training here at Radius. This is not where I expected to be, but I am so very thankful I am here now. While I would love to share everything that I’ve learned during my time at Radius, a few key takeaways stick out in my mind:
Our home churches are invaluable. I feel more grateful than ever for my home church because of my time at Radius. While no church body is perfect, training here has made me thankful for the health of my home church and for the discipleship I have received.
Our professors are always encouraging and teaching us how to involve our churches in the process of church planting. The truth is if you don’t intimately know and love your local church how will you plant a local church? As one of the ‘firsts’ from my church to be sent to an unreached unengaged people group in a country hostile to the Gospel, I feel more prepared to communicate the needs I will have on the field. I also feel like I know what a local church is and isn’t and a pretty good idea how, by God’s grace, a local church comes into existence.
Preparation happens in community. During my first month at Radius, the Lord shifted my focus from myself to Him and His purposes. Paul says in Philippians 2, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others as more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” I moved from feeling insecure about coming into a new program and wondering if I fit into being concerned with my classmates around me and the goal the Lord has set before us all. I realized that this year I have the opportunity to serve and impact 50+ students preparing to give their lives for the gospel. In fact, right here on campus, I also have the opportunity to impact unreached and unengaged people groups all over the world by serving those who will go.
The immensity of the task calls for intensive training. I am tremendously grateful for the invaluable tools I have gained here, especially in regard to language learning. We serve a communicating God who came and spoke our language and walked as we walk. We are charged, as ambassadors of this message of reconciliation, to effectively communicate the Gospel (2 Corinthians 5:19). In a humble attempt to walk as He walked, my aim is to also speak the heart language and culture of those with whom I want to share this good news (1 John 2:6). This, though, is no easy task. Because of my time at Radius, I feel equipped to know how to begin this process of language learning and I feel more aware than ever of what it will take to learn a minority language to adult fluency to be able to contextually share God’s story with those who have never heard.
It has been my joy – and also rather quite inspiring – to be a part of this missionary community. I am grateful for the Lord’s kindness to me and how he has allowed me to rub shoulders with these other amazing students who are choosing to abandon everything and follow God’s call to the ends of the earth.
We live in a culture where the current is constantly sweeping us towards living comfortable and often self-serving lives. What might it look like for more of us to choose to swim against this current and to join our Father in His mission to bring our brothers and sisters home (John 10:16)?
Elizabeth, a Radius graduate, is using a pseudonym as she will be shortly leaving to
work in a restricted access location.