I was born in Northeast Nebraska. My Dad was the pastor of a small rural church there. When I was almost a year old we moved to St. Louis, MO where my Dad began to pastor Grace Baptist Church. He is pastoring there still.
I was saved at a very young age, on August 6, 1980. It was during VBS at our church and I realized that I had sinned and that Jesus died for me. My parents asked me about it to make sure I understood salvation but I didn’t want to pray the sinner’s prayer until I was with my Sunday School teacher that night at VBS. I know that a person doesn’t have to pray to be saved, it is the belief in the heart that saves you but that is what I wanted to do in my child’s mind. I believed on Jesus as my Savior that night.
My family has been actively involved in church for many years. We always kept missionaries in our home (my mother has the gift of hospitality). I was exposed to missions all of my life. When I was 6 years old God called me to be a missionary. I knew for certain that this is what God wanted me to do and began to plan my life accordingly. There were things that I chose not to do because I was planning to be a missionary. There were other aspects of my training that I did because I was planning to be a missionary.
When I was 15 God began working in my heart to be a missionary to Africa. Up to that time I’d been planning to go to Europe, specifically Germany, as a missionary. Then God began exposing me to African missions, whether through missionary stories that I taught or people I came with whom I came into contact. I remember meeting a man from Liberia at a missions emphasis I helped with at a local Christian School and feeling the burden for the country of Liberia
Then when I was 17, God called me to Uganda. I knew this for certain. I didn’t want to go to Uganda. I was scared of AIDS, and the political unrest that had been so prevalent there for so long. But it was as if God said to my heart “I want you to go there and I will give you the strength to do so.” Then He began to put people into my path to dissipate those fears. I surrendered to go to Uganda and began making plans to go and saving my money to take a survey trip. I took Bible Institute classes geared toward teacher training so I could train the nationals to be Sunday School teachers. I worked on learning music so I could help them write their own hymns that would be from their culture and not just have the American hymns.
We made plans to take a survey trip, had our passports and were reserving tickets when we found out that the missionaries we were going to visit had come home from the field for various reasons (some with health problems others with family issues). That was when God started dealing with me on being willing to stay in the United States and be an at home support for missionaries. This was a very difficult thing for me to surrender to. Being a missionary on the foreign field was who I was. God kept dealing with me that He wanted me to be willing to STAY as well as being willing to go if He wanted. Finally, I surrendered to that, too, not understanding at all what He was doing. I felt like everything I had been working toward for years had been knocked out from underneath me. Yet, at the same time I had a peace in my heart that I didn’t realize until then I hadn’t had for a while. I had gone from going as a missionary because God wanted me to, to going as a missionary because that was what I was going to do regardless of what God wanted.
The next few months were a bit difficult because people didn’t really understand what God had done in my life. They thought I was giving up being a missionary in order to get a husband. In reality I had decided NOT to marry certain people because I was going to be a missionary. I figured I would be single all my life now.
Then, God brought my husband, James, into my life as a possible life partner. We’d known each other for years and I’d always kind of liked him. He asked my Dad if we could begin courting. I knew that God had called me to marry this man. I knew we were perfectly suited for each other and would compliment each other in whatever ministry God called us to do (God had called him to the ministry already.) We were married in 2000. God blessed us with twins in our first year of marriage and then with two more children right away.
Then in summer of 2004, God called James to be a missionary in Uganda. I was so surprised and overjoyed when he shared this with me. It was a confirmation that God had called me all those years ago but wanted me in a position where I wasn’t in the way for Him to call James. James wasn’t pressured into being a missionary by his wife. He was called by God, just as I was. I was in a position to be completely supportive because God had already dealt with my heart.