Ordinary People--Faithful God
elders were not only committed to supporting an evangelistic program but were also keen to run evangelistic programs of their own. They planned to work with me during the first six months, following which they would each run a program of their own in a nearby coastal community. What vision! Here were local church elders, who were themselves partnering with God. The first two weeks on site was intense, with every member visited and a public evangelism strategy put in place.
Then it was off to junior camp. Marlene and I had joined our creative forces for my role as camp pastor--she in preparing the props and me with the storytelling--aiming to lead the juniors into a personal relationship with Jesus.
But, midway through this camp, another one of those phone calls came: "Ken, the South Pacific Division has just placed a call for you to go to Papua New Guinea as an area supervisor and pilot."
I was stunned--and, given the circumstances, nearly rejected it point-blank! After all, we had just moved to a new region and had specific plans. And, besides, I had given up flying.
While Marlene had no desire to face another move, she urged me to bring this to God in prayer. After all, ours was a partnership with God. Prayer must always be integral to such a partnership. After three days of intense prayer and reflection, we were led to the least likely conclusion--to accept the call to Papua New Guinea.
In accepting this call, we found an answer to the question of why God led to flying as part of my ministry. But it left us with an even more perplexing array of questions.
I still don't understand why Maclean church, so serious about and ready for evangelism, had to lose their pastor. But partnering with God isn't about having all the answers. It is a matter of living by faith--about putting God first. It is about praying through our issues, knowing God can see things we cannot. And sometimes-- just sometimes--we might catch a glimpse of God's plans.
Ten years later, at a regional meeting in Australia, a young woman came up and introduced herself. She asked if I remembered her. Sadly, I could not. "I am not surprised," she laughed. "I was in my teens 10 years ago in Maclean. One day, searching for God and truth, I visited the Seventh-day Adventist church. You touched my life and set me on a journey with Jesus. Thank you." For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. Isaiah 55:9-11. Ken Vogel is general secretary for the Australian Union Conference, based in Ringwood, Victoria.
This story is used with permission from Signs Publishing Company. More of these stories can be found in these collections: Ordinary People—Extraordinary God, Ordinary People—Faithful God, and Ordinary People—Generous God