How would you answer this question if a seeker asked you? This month, I was blown away by a conversation I had with my neighbor. We have studied through the ministry of Jesus, and we have had some really good conversations. We talk about life, what God was doing in sending Jesus, Jesus' message, and how that message affects the world today. We share a lot in common. We are both teachers.
I started our "English class" by asking Nadia why she hasn't started back to work. She taught 4th grade in a private Catholic school last year, and it was my understanding that she was still teaching there. Apparently, her contract ended and instead of renewing, she decided she wanted to work in the public setting where the pay is higher. Since the school year has already started, Nadia was hoping for a maternity leave to open or some other emergency opening. Nothing has come up so she is exploring other jobs. She has worked as a secretary before and she had finished one part of an interview for a secretary's position. I asked her if she liked that kind of work. She shared that she loves to manage and she loves the interaction she has with different people as a secretary. I thought this was all interesting, and I told her that I hoped she found a job soon.
She looked very intently at me, and asked, "Megan, I have something I have been thinking about for awhile, and I want to ask you what you think. I want to know what God's purpose is for my life. I want to do whatever it is, but I need him to tell me. How can I figure this out?" I was not expecting this, but God has been weaving a beautiful friendship between Nadia and me--it is a friendship of genuine trust and respect. If I said anything eloquently after this question it was an act of the Holy Spirit. We just recently studied the passage in 1 Peter in house church about "being prepared to give an answer for the hope that you have." This was my opportunity.
I explained to Nadia that God has one purpose and plan, and we have to ask ourselves how we fit into that purpose and plan. I used to quote the verse in Jeremiah 39 that is so popular "for I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord…" I always took that so personally. And while I believe that our Father is a personal God, he is not talking to individuals in that passage. He is talking to his people, Israel. God's purpose was going to happen through a people that he chose. He continues to fulfill that purpose through his "people" today, the Church. So when we define "my purpose" we have to take a serious look at the story of God and how we fit into that story. I decided to share my own personal story that some of you may not know.
I decided that I would serve God as a missionary in the public school system of the United States. Well, you see how that worked out. I met a guy in college that I happened to fall in love with. He had this dream to go to Latin America and be a missionary. As we fell in love, decided to marry, and formed a dream together, I decided that I would just have to forfeit some of "my dreams" for the sake of a partnership in the gospel. I would still be serving God by ministering to children (probably in the church and as a stay-at-home-mom), it would just look different than what I had thought. Maybe my masters in curriculum and instruction was for nothing, but I thought it was the right choice at the time.
Well, four years later after being in the field, look at where God has led me. I am working in the public school system of Arequipa. Influencing the lives of children for good and loving and supporting them is my passion. I never would have known that this would happen here, but I think that God blesses us with passions and he desires for us to use them for the sake of his kingdom.
I asked Nadia, "Are you more passionate about secretary work or working with children?" Children are her passion. I explained that that may not be what will happen right now, but as long as she is living for God and trying to glorify him with her actions, she is fulfilling his purpose.
All of a sudden something clicked in my head. I had been in a meeting earlier in the week with Alfredo and the staff from Put Them First (to discuss their library we helped start) and they mentioned wanting to hire a librarian full-time. They had recently raised funds from the states and had the budget to hire a Peruvian for one year. I hesitantly shared this with Nadia not knowing if she would have any interest in working so far out of the city. It ended up she was very interested.
We continued to converse on the topic and I chose (I think the Holy Spirit was just telling me to go for it) to be very frank with her. "Nadia, many might say that it is coincidence that we are here right now. I don't think it is coincidence. I moved in this home. You wanted English lessons and came to me. You are seeking out God's will, and you decided to talk to me, a missionary, about it. We both teach and enjoy discussing it. I work with a library program and know of a job. You need a job and love working with kids." I told her that I didn't know why God had put us together in this way. Maybe the whole reason is for her to have a job. Maybe God wants her to find Jesus and faith through our study. I don't know, but I don't believe it is coincidence. God has a plan. He has a purpose. All I can do is try to live for him and glorify him with my actions. I told her that I pray for her every day. We left that meeting closer than ever. We will see what the future holds.
As far as this week being the future, it looks like she is getting the job. Can you believe it? Nadia will be one of the four teachers I work with for the pilot of our school library program. It doesn't get much cooler than that. Man, we serve an awesome God.