There have been three moments in my life when God clearly spoke and changed the direction of my career. The first was when I was fourteen. I already knew I wanted to be a teacher. I loved school and loved explaining new ideas to people. One day, as I was daydreaming about my future, I had a vision of myself teaching school-aged children in Africa. It wasn’t like a normal daydream. It was burned into my mind. It was important. I felt God was telling me to prepare myself to be a missionary. I waited six months before telling my parents what I had been thinking about. They were passively supportive, genuinely wanting my life to be used by God and hoping missions was a phase I would grow out of.
The second was when I was 20. I was in a class in college listening to a lecture on cross-cultural tensions in the Boise area. It was my junior year. I was majoring in Elementary Education and minoring in Christian Missions. As the presenter spoke about gang activity and high risk Hispanic youth, I felt God whisper, “I want you to stay.” Tears welling in my eyes, I pleaded internally, asking forgiveness for whatever wrong I had committed. “I know I can be a missionary. With your help, I know I can do this.” And God whispered again, “It’s not about what you can’t do. It’s about what I’m calling you to do.” And that was that. Sobbing, I called my parents to tell them the horrible news. They cried tears of relief.
The third was when I was 26. I was in a Bible study hearing a presentation by Brian Tibbs on Extreme Nazarene for about the fifth time. I was finishing my fourth year of teaching fourth grade in the Vallivue School District. As I was giving my complete attention to the presentation, I was also sorting through my mental lists of what needed to be copied, prepared, graded, moved, and emailed before 8 o’clock the next morning. When Brian started explaining the role of a 40/40 missionary, I felt God stirring in me. He whispered, “This is for you. This is what I want for you.” As if He had just stopped by the fantastic futures store on the way home and picked out something nice for me. I prayed and sobbed for a couple days before calling to tell my parents the amazing news. They cried and haven’t really stopped.
Working for Extreme, I have fallen in love with the way we plant churches. We use something called the Master’s Plan. It’s basically making disciples that make disciples. Seriously cool for reasons enumerated in past blogs. Three months ago, my plan was to finish my time in Argentina, move back to Idaho, get a teaching job, and make disciples that make disciples. I wanted to use what I have learned here to be God’s instrument at home. In September, Brian visited our team to have our two-thirds review. After walking into what I thought was a finance meeting, he told me he had a job offer he thought I wouldn’t be able to refuse. My first thought was, “It would have to be in Boise.” It wasn’t.
For the majority of its existence, Extreme has operated in Spanish-speaking South American countries. As we have spread from Peru and Ecuador to Argentina and Chile, South American missionaries have been increasing hard to find. In this growth, we’ve been eyeing the one South American country that doesn’t speak Spanish but has a vibrant Nazarene church full of potential 40/40 candidates. This was the job offer: Education Coordinator for Extreme’s new Brazil field. I would be responsible for training teams of North Americans and Brazilians to plant churches in Brazil with the possibility of also training Brazilians to plant churches in other countries in the future. There was a lot of talk about opportunity and timing. As I listened, I grew increasingly alarmed at the fact that I felt nothing inside. I was neither repulsed nor excited about the idea. It was an incredible opportunity but not what I wanted to do. My pastors, who are Brazilian, were with me. When I entered the room, their faces were glowing. They obviously expected to celebrate the clear revelation of God’s will. As they watched my reaction, they became comforting and encouraged me to take my time with the decision. I had no idea what to do. “I’ll need to pray about it.”
I prayed a lot. I was completely torn. I wanted to continue in mission work and see the church in Brazil grow, and I wanted to live in the States and share with my friends and family what God has taught me about discipleship. I cried tears of joy at the thought of accepting either, my future life was going to be awesome. I cried in grief knowing I would have to reject one or the other. Mostly I cried out of frustration that God was not being clear. For four weeks He gave me the runaround, prompting me to talk to my family members and ask friends to pray for me. Asking if I really knew what I was getting into with both options, what were my motives, my expectations? Through it all I continued to push back. I was grateful for the personal growth I was experiencing, but was no closer to an answer. Sure, God, this is all important, but I need to accept or reject this offer. Can’t you just tell me what You want, and we can figure out the details later?? This had no effect on His timing…
In keeping with past experiences, my parents were not thrilled with this new opportunity. You probably know my mom and can imagine her response. I prayed for her a lot, especially as I began to realize that I was falling in love with the idea of being a missionary in Brazil. My emotions had become so erratic that I couldn’t trust this new feeling to reveal God’s will, but I was open to something I had previously not wanted to consider.
Tired of waiting for nothing, I tried to talk to my mom a second time, since the first time had gone so well. I prayed that she would be softened toward the idea, that maybe we could divine together what I should do. I was bitterly disappointed. If anything, she was more opposed to my accepting the job than she had been before. I still didn’t have any peace answering one way or the other. I had no choice but to continue waiting.
That was a Friday. Two days later, my mom called me. She was crying, again. She told me she had been praying for me that morning, that God would give me a clear answer. As she was praying, she had a whispered thought that didn’t come from herself, “You are the answer. Tell Brooke I’m sending her to Brazil.” There were more details to the story that I didn’t get to hear because I was so shocked by the news. No more teaching. Me, a career missionary. I began to praise God for answeringmy prayers when I realized this change in my mom couldn’t have been an answer to my prayers the previous week. This had been God’s plan from the beginning. I didn’t feel a clear direction for weeks so that I would have to seek help and God could speak not only to me, but to my mom. He took care of all of us. It doesn’t make the separation easy, but my parents and I all know that this sacrifice is important and it is for God.
So, the new plan is to finish my contract here in Cordoba in April and return to Idaho for the spring and summer. Next August, I will move to Brasilia, Brazil, to study Portuguese and get ready to train teams before they go out into Brazil to plant new churches. I am incredibly privileged to get to do this work. I will never fully comprehend just how good God is.