Staying Nations-Minded When you Can’t Go

When I was a child my family took a mission trip to Central America. We went with a medical team into jungle villages only accessible by dugout canoe. This team cared for people with various ailments and shared the good news of Jesus. My heart was captured “for the nations” and I desired to get a medical degree and go back to share the love of Jesus with those who might not otherwise hear.

Decades later, in 1985 I married Jim and began working as a nurse. Jim and I were also in ministry together. Over the years I have gladly followed him as the Lord led us to different locations. However, as of yet, we have not had the opportunity to go overseas long term. Still, the flame in my heart to be involved in reaching the nations with the gospel has not dimmed.


In this post I want to share four ways the Lord has encouraged me to stay nations-minded.

I. Pray
During a season of life when I lived with chronic pain, had limited contact with students or staff, and little men at my feet I would pray for two things when I did dishes. Over my sink I had a notecard with two words written on it: Nations and Men. I would pray:

  1. That God would use my life to influence the nations with the Gospel
  2. That God would raise up men for our work on campus (there seemed to be so many more  women than men and we needed godly men).
Over the next years praying for the nations was repeatedly on my mind and my heart. Later, as the boys grew older, the campus ministry was in full swing and Jim was leading a large staff team. I felt sidelined in some ways due to continued pain, sleepless nights and difficulty focusing. I found myself asking, “How could God use an exhausted mom to accomplish anything other than keeping my family fed and clothed?”


As I prayed I began to believe God at His Word that:

  1.  I was to be still and know that HE will be exalted in all the nations (Ps.46:10).
  2. The knowledge of the glory of the Lord WILL cover the earth as the waters cover the seas (Hab. 2:14)
  3. The “least WILL become a thousand and the smallest a mighty nation…” (Is.60:22). 
  4. His plan is people from EVERY nation, tribe, language and tongue gathered around his throne (Rev. 7:9).
II. Give
As our hearts grew for the nations we found that our giving needed to change and a greater percentage be given to overseas missions. Each year we sought to increase our giving to the nations by 1%. It was a joy to join the support team of people sent to serve overseas.


III. Learn
As a family, we began to read the “Hero Tales” series by David and Neta Jackson at the dinner table. The biographical missionary stories were riveting. Our hearts were stirred as our family learned of great missionaries such as Adoniram Judson, Hudson Taylor, Lottie Moon and others. We wanted the vision of missions to not only grip our hearts and but our sons’ hearts as well.

Also, in 2000, Jim and I took a brief trip to Asia to see if we might be able to serve there. Four years later we took our whole family to experience it first hand, with the idea that maybe we would be sent. However it was not God’s plan for us.

IV. Mobilize
When Jim was asked to become the collegiate director I burst into tears. “Are we ever going to get to go overseas?” Jim comforted me with the idea that we would utilize the role to mobilize people to the nations, and he held to his word. As people came through our door we asked if they ever considered spending time overseas in missions. If they hadn’t, would they pray about it? Many people prayed and lots said, “No,” but slowly people went over the summer, for a year or two or longer.

With a vision for every tribe, nation and tongue we worked together to influence the collegiate mission to think broadly. We helped to relaunch iEDGE and send short and long-term staff from collegiate to the nations. It was a sweet time and yet, we were still in the U.S. It was during this time of recruiting many that our oldest son was able to go and serve in Asia for two years. As the other parents wept when their children boarded the plane to go, knowing they were leaving for a long time, I wept that we were not going with him to minister.

We now live in New York City, a city with 800 languages and people groups from all over the world and the nations are right next door. We are meeting ‘the nations’ on elevators, sidewalks, in subways and even have many visiting us in our apartment.

While we haven’t had the opportunity to serve across the ocean on a mission field, I have learned that God has me here for a purpose. So, I am still praying, giving, seeking to mobilize and loving the people the Lord is giving me from my 814 square foot apartment in downtown Brooklyn.

Perhaps you can’t go right now either, or even feel called to go, but you can still impact the nations. You can pray with the woman you disciple for a specific country, ask others if they have considered going, or even host a fundraising dinner for students who are going overseas next summer. However you feel led, you can impact the nations by praying, giving, learning or mobilizing others.

The Lord can use each of us to reach the nations regardless of our location, circumstances or season of life. Will you join me in praying and asking God how He wants to use each of us when we can’t physically go? It’s what we can do!

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