As many of you know, after I graduate in December, I will be going to the Czech Republic to be a missionary via World Mission, the mission support arm of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS). The process of preparing myself to go has been going on since the middle of this summer, when God used my dear mom to speak wisdom to me about the use of my time after graduation.
Since the conversation with my mom this summer, God has been flinging doors wide open, one after another, to enable me to serve Him as a missionary. The latest door He opened before me was in the area of my financial support. No missionary goes to the field alone, but goes, sent by other Christians who have a heart for missions but do not have the blessing of the freedom from constraints that would allow them to go themselves. And so every missionary raises up a team of supporters who commit themselves to praying for the missionary and providing for the financial needs of the missionary's ministry.
On Saturday, November 3, my parents and I went to Mission Central, in Mapleton Iowa, where a former farmstead has been turned into a major headquarters for connecting missionaries from the LCMS with potential supporters from within the church body. Also at Mission Central on Saturday was a charter-bus load of Lutheran Christians from Holdrege and Arapahoe, Nebraska. They were there to learn about missions within the Synod and about how God has provided for the needs of Mission Central and all of the missionaries by calling people with means to provide for the needs.
Near the end of the day, the director of Mission Central, Gary Thies, formally introduced me to the group from Nebraska as a brand new missionary. He told them in brief about how God has been working to call me to His work in the Czech Republic. He also then told them that I had gotten in touch with him only a week and a half prior to that day and had told him that I had no idea how I was going raise the $10,000 that I needed in order to be able to go. As I sat in front of the Mission Central guests, Gary told them that he had called World Mission a week ago and discovered that I only had $55 in my support account. Then he told them that during the course of the previous week, he'd received phone calls from people from around Nebraska and Iowa, wanting to know if there was a brand new missionary who needed support and how could they help.
He was holding in his hands a manila folder as he told them this. At this point, he opened the folder and said that during the course of the week, God had called just a handful of people to provide $7,360 for my service to Him.
I wept. It was the first time that I had heard this. I could hardly believe it.
After I had recovered somewhat, and the female members of the group had had a chance to dry their eyes, Gary invited a number of them to come up and surround me and help commission me, in the style that Paul and Barnabas had been commissioned in Antioch (Acts 13:1-3), with the laying on of hands and prayers for me. After I had been commissioned, Gary, as well as many of the guests, took a few pictures of the group of us in the front of the room.
Since then, I have been completely amazed by our big God. I do not know a single one of the people who provided for that $7,360. Not one. God raised three-quarters of my money in a week from people I didn't even know.
If you would like to know more about my service as a missionary, there are several places you can go to check that out. First, you can call me (402.417.5254) or email me (Ashley.Effken@lcms.org), or facebook me (duh). Second, you can check out my information on the LCMS World Mission web page:
"You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:8