In the Spring of 2011, I (Kathryne) was working as a pre-school teacher, and Jamison was finishing up his second year of seminary. One memorable day, he was at home studying, while I was at school working. Out of nowhere, I got a text message that said something like, “What do you think about moving to Japan?” I don’t think I even responded. But, five years later, we’re now getting ready to move our family to the Land of the Rising Sun.
Although I grew up in a faithful Christian home, I never dreamed about being a missionary. I have always wanted to be a mom. Other kids dreamed of being astronauts, police officers or professional basketball players. Not me–I’ve always dreamed of being a mom. Jamison likes to remind me that I’m now living the dream, especially on days when it feels less than dreamy.
My call to missions began when God called me to Jamison. We met in college, dated off and on for five years, became best friends and then realized marrying your best friend is a good thing. We probably would have married sooner, if God had called me to missions sooner. But, he didn’t. The call to motherhood remained strong and clear throughout our college years, while Jamison’s call to missions grew stronger and clearer. He was set on going to the nations; I was set on staying and establishing a home.
In some ways, nothing has changed. Jamison still feels called to missions; I still feel called to motherhood. Yet, the picture of motherhood that is taking shape is not the one I envisioned when I was playing with baby dolls. And maybe the picture of missions that is taking shape is different than the one Jamison envisioned when he was living in homeless shelters and ministering to the men there. God is sending us–not as individuals–but as a family, to live and minister as a family, in Japan.
After the famous text message of 2011, we began praying about the possibility of going to Japan. God consistently answered our prayers and opened doors. Every time we stepped through a door toward Japan, the Lord opened another. Every time he opened another, I found myself depending more and more on him for strength and faith to take the next step. I’ve never felt particularly equipped to be a missionary. I don’t fit the stereotypical picture of an evangelist or disciple-maker. I’m an introvert. I often feel intimated or overwhelmed by the idea of leading others to Jesus Christ. I’m a weak person.
The Lord reminds us, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). I’ve had to come to a place of trusting that my weakness for the task will make God’s power shine more brightly. Over the past five years, I’ve learned to embrace the idea that I’m not qualified to be a missionary. I’m not qualified to be a mom either. Knowing that is the only thing that qualifies me to do both. I can’t do this. Only God can–he has a history of using weak people like me.
Embracing weakness has allowed me to embrace the call to missions. You can be a mom anywhere in the world. Why not be a mom living among other moms who don’t yet know Jesus? Why not raise children who make friends with other children who’ve never heard the gospel before? The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Moms can be laborers, too, especially in places like Japan, where fathers often work long days at the office and mothers work even longer days in the home and neighborhood.
Ironically, we’ve been told a few times that I’ll have more ministry opportunities in Japan than Jamison. It may just be that God’s aim is to reach the nations through weak mothers relying daily on his strength, so that in everything he might be glorified.