In This Issue...
- A Theology of Humor by Cheryl Taylor
- Ministering With Humor by Stephanie Nance
- Christian Leaders Having Fun? by Pam Morton with Kathy Jingling
- The Health Benefits of Humor and Laughter by Dwenda Gjerdingen, MD, MS
Missionary Associate to India
WIM: What is your position and general job description? How long have you served in this position?
Stuart: I am a missionary associate (MA) with Assemblies of God World Missions. I have been an MA since 2008, most recently serving in India. I spend my days absorbing culture, learning language, and plugging into a variety of ministry opportunities as doors open. I minister alongside a team of people serving women and girls who have come from one of the largest red-light areas in our city. I coordinate internships for young people wanting to come and serve in a variety of ministries in the city. I host teams. Sometimes I make PowerPoints for our media department at my local church. You name it, I've probably done it.
WIM: What steps/preparation led you to this position?
Stuart: I studied social work at Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri, so I was exposed to international issues as well as opportunities in missions through the Assemblies of God. I have always had a heart for social justice, and my involvement in the secular world serving women and children in prostitution and/or victims of trafficking, both directly and indirectly in the field of research and large-scale campaigns, played a huge role in broadening my worldview and connecting me to others in the field. My steps into the world of ministry were timid. I never expected to serve in a ministerial role. But one step of obedience led to another ... and here I am!
WIM: Is this role a vocation, a "calling" for you? If so, how did you live that out?
Stuart: Absolutely a calling. I would not be able to live and work overseas if it weren't for a profound knowledge that this is what God has asked of me. I felt the first whispers of God's call to full-time ministry in 2007, but it wasn't until almost a year later that I began to fully realize God was asking me to step into full-time ministry. I said yes to spend 6 weeks in India, then 2 months in Springfield, and then to become an MA (for only a year, I thought). These initial steps of obedience were accompanied by much naïve kicking and screaming. But as one yes led to another, God, in His sweet and perfect timing, has drawn my heart to love Him more and love what He has called me to do. As my mentor often says, "I've said yes too many times to say no now."
WIM: What are the joys of this role?
Stuart: Discovering the fulfillment that follows obedience. Enjoying the wonderful relationships that I now have with the national church and my new extended family throughout India. Seeing life in the eyes of girls who used to spend their days without hope. Building relationships with street kids. Hearing women — once caught in slavery and now freed and baptized in the Holy Spirit — praying with power and authority that I can only equate to what it must have sounded like in the days of Acts.
WIM: What are the challenges of this role?
Stuart: Language, since I now speak and read with the proficiency of a kindergartener. It's tough to learn a language so different from my mother tongue. And adjusting to the culture. As a guest in this country, it is up to me to make necessary adjustments to learn and adapt to the culture of my host country. This culture emphasizes being rather than doing, and promotes community and group success more than individual achievements. My tasks are sometimes quiet ones that emphasize relationship over production. This is definitely a learning adventure for me. And I have been challenged to maintain my personal relationship with Jesus while pouring out into others. Honestly, in the business of ministry life, and living with a sense of lots of people watching my ministry performance, sometimes I forget that my main God-given purpose in life is simply to know and be known by Jesus. If I truly know Him, I will naturally desire to share Him. However, if I focus solely on sharing Him as my utmost goal in life, I might miss the joy of truly knowing Him.
WIM: What would you tell another woman aspiring to work in this field in terms of preparation, needed skill set, etc.?
Stuart: My life verse is Psalm 138:8, "The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me ..." (ESV). When we walk in obedience, the Lord himself commits to fulfill His own purpose that He has created for us. Staying in tune with the Holy Spirit and following His timing in patient obedience is of the utmost. The skills that you bring are important only in as much as the Lord wishes to use them. Those who fear they have no skills may find that God can use them more than they think when they walk in humility and obedience. Those who think a little too highly of themselves may have to be put in their place by the Almighty (much like I was).