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Michelle Hampton*

Missionary Associate/Church Planter to the Middle East/North Africa Area

WIM: What is your position and general job description? How long have you served in this position?

Hampton: I am a missionary associate (MA), but I'm in the process of applying for full appointment. My job description on the field is director of operations of the café for women in the city where I serve. It will involve the training of staff for the women's café/center and running the daily operations, including helping to plan events that will be hosted there. The whole purpose of the women's cafe is to have a legitimate platform to stay in the country, and also to have a natural place to meet women and build relationships that will lead to access to their homes, allow us to share Jesus, and help plant indigenous churches among the majority religions population. I studied the Arabic Language full time up until May 2012, but now I'm working full time in this position.

WIM: What steps/preparation led you to this position?

Hampton: I came out as an MA for a 2-year assignment. After the first year I began seeking out legal ways I might stay in the country and still share Jesus. I explored the idea of becoming a university professor, and pursued that while hearing about my colleague's plan with the women's café. I liked the idea, but I wasn't going to recommend myself. I was still taking steps to become a professor. My application to graduate school was denied, and my heart broke as I thought I had to return to the states. A couple of days later my colleague approached me and asked me to work with her. She had wanted to ask me for some time, but didn't want to add confusion while I was pursuing the professor position. God knew the right timing for everything. I had also worked as a food server for 2 years while in college, which reminds me of how God uses all of our experiences for His glory if we let Him.

WIM: Is this role a vocation, a "calling" for you? If so, how did you live that out?

Hampton: I have two purposes in life that drive me. First, to share my life and Jesus in such a way with people that those who do not know Him are drawn to Him, and understand what it means to be a follower of Christ even before they become one. Secondly, to work alongside believers, relationally mentor them by example, challenge them to live out their faith daily, and do more for God than I could do. I will get to do this every day when the women's café opens as I'll be working with both Christians and non-Christians. While serving people can be stressful, it is those stressful moments that become teachable moments. I'll also be visiting people from the café on my days off, which will provide more in-depth time of sharing Jesus.

WIM: What are the joys of this role?

Hampton: The joys are watching people "catch" what I've been sharing with them and seeing it on their faces and lived out in their lives. It's like experiencing a miracle when you see growth in people and watch Jesus transform their hearts. Also, watching the miracles of how God orchestrates people coming together for His purposes and watching what looked impossible become possible, especially when I see direct answers to prayers. Finally, it's a great joy working with others with the same heart who encourage me in my gifts and strengths, and to whom I can offer encouragement as well.

WIM: What are the challenges of this role?

Hampton: The challenges come when you share and invest months of time and feel like a relationship was ordained by God, but then you see no visible fruit of spiritual growth. It's hard to not want to give up. Also, some things take much longer to accomplish than they do in the states due to the culture or governmental procedure. This also wears on me when I just want to be about the Father's business. Instead I'm stuck doing seemingly stupid things. I have to remind myself of the Scripture in those moments that we should not grow weary in doing good, but that at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. God is gracious in sending the encouragement I need to help me to press on.

WIM: What would you tell another woman aspiring to work in this field in terms of preparation, needed skill set, etc.?

Hampton: Be faithful to the Lord and those to whom you are under authority. Remember that God uses everything. Submit to His process and be obedient. This includes emotional issues. We all experience various levels of brokenness in our lives, but it doesn't have to stop us from what God is calling us to do. Don't try to rush things, or you may miss some of the formation of godly character and wholeness that God is trying to forge in your life.

Be available to serve God wherever and however it looks. Willingness to do the small, seemingly insignificant things, and doing them with excellence will open more doors for ministry. You have to be available to work hard on things that are not always fun or glamorous, but it is all part of the work, and God will honor you for it.

Be teachable. This is new, cutting the frontier kind of work. No one is an expert, and we are doing things differently than we have before because our field requires it. We have experienced people with much wisdom though, and it is wise to heed their advice as they have their reasons for doing things the way they do them. Be ready to learn the language, and to work on the language to the best of your ability. We are not all gifted in language, but God is our help, and He is able to give grace where it is needed most. Knowing the language and culture of those you are working with will soften hearts and open doors to the message you want to convey.

* Pseudonym