Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Looking Back and Moving Forward

I have been asked a few times now how it is that I was called to missions, so I want to take this time to give my own personal missions history here.

I did not grow up in the USA like my wife, instead, I was born and raised in England. Those of you who are reading this from England, you will have to forgive my use of American English. After living here for 11 years, my spelling, pronunciation, and phrasing has become American, although my accent is still (somewhat) English.

I was attending college at The University of Manchester in Manchester, England. After coasting through my first (freshman) year, I was in my second (sophomore) year and things were starting to become a challenge. I was living the typical UK university partying lifestyle, and I was neither finding fulfillment in this nor winning many friends through it. What I found was the friends that were left were Christians, and while I'd made it a game to ridicule and chastise them for their beliefs, the one who was truly getting challenged was me.

After many months of this, I finally felt God speaking directly to me, saying "Anthony, why do you keep rejecting me?" I knew instantly that it was God speaking and that I needed to follow Him. That date was April 19th, 1999. On returning to college a few short days later, I met up with a friend of mine, a Christian and told him about what I'd heard, and that I was now a believer. He was ecstatic! He invited me over that evening for his accountability group, so they could pray with me and welcome me into "The Faith".

Fall of 2000, now in my Senior (4th!) Year The University of Manchester Christian Union (formerly MUUCU), hosted a Missions Fair where they invited representatives from several missions organizations to set up booths and talk about their work around the world. I was curiously intrigued by one particular organization who had information about a small African country they were working in called Malawi. This vision lays dormant for many years

Fast forward many years, it's 2008, we are married, with children, and I'm working for State Farm, Jesika is a Nurse Practitioner Student at Illinois State. We went on our first "Commission Unto Mexico" trip. This enabled me to experience missions first hand. God used this trip to reignite that spark he put in my heart 8 years previous and get me to the point of thinking seriously about missions again.

2010 came by God called us to missions again by way of Jesika's first Nurse Practitioner job working at a Federally Qualified Health Center, working with the Lakota people of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. While we were there, Jesika became reacquainted with a friend from college who was serving as a missionary with her family in Africa through the wonders of Facebook! When they were home on deputation assignment, they stayed with us and spoke at our Church on the reservation. As they left, they invited us to visit them in Africa. In February 2011, after moving back to Illinois, we took them up on the offer, and flew as a family to Senegal.

Senegal was monumental for me as it proved to me that it was indeed possible for me to survive outside of the western civilization. That I could indeed survive without consistent power, air conditioning, or even liquid milk! (yes, it was powdered milk over there)

April 2011 rolled on and we were invited to go as delegates to the Northwestern Illinois District NMI convention, where Jon and Margaret Scott were the missionary speakers... We had no idea at the time we agreed to go to the convention, but they were working at NTCCA in Lilongwe, Malawi. I looked over at Jesika as they were sharing where they were working, and we both knew that God had spoken to us through the Scott's. This was where we were supposed to go.

"Coincidence" after "coincidence" has occurred as we have been walking this journey. Finally now everything is in place and we are ready to go to Malawi this fall for our first stint as Mission Corps missionaries.

As Jesika posted yesterday we have a large amount of money we need to raise in a short space of time.  Please be in prayer for us as we look to raise this money and as we put into place the rest of the plan - we need to book flights, get textbooks, and study the material we will present.

A big answer to prayer... Our Fundraising site is now live! Thanks especially go to David Cooper for reviewing our site preview, and Beth Bleadingheiser for getting it turned on so quickly!

Would you prayerfully consider whether you can help us raise the funds we need for this? Click here -> Moore's in Malawi for more information or to make a donation!

Many blessings to you all,
Anthony and Jesika

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