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  • Writer's pictureJanet Richey

The Making of a Missionary

Top Hill, Jamaica, and Copper Center, Alaska stand like goalposts in the Northern Hemisphere, with roughly 4,500 miles between them. And yet images of my dad working alongside his beloved deaf community in that tropical climate were the first things that came to mind when I saw the announcement for a short-term mission trip to our 49th state. Five years after his passing, I am still trying to draw parallels between my life and his.

Walking up to the information table after Sunday service, I flashed my dad's inherited smile, conjured up the very best of his personality, and introduced myself to Melvin Miller, a church member with a long-standing connection to LightShine Alaska who was organizing the trip. Mel held a genuine, resting-face smile and a pleasant reservedness about him that made me want to know him more. My dad, The Reverend Martin Lewis, was anything but reserved, so I tried to imagine the conversation that might have happened between the two missionaries. Like a tsunami, the notion brought a wave of sadness over me. I am not sure what Reverend Lewis would have said to Mel, but I decided to stick around for the informational meeting, if for no other reason than to size up the potential team members.

The team would eventually consist of four women over the age of 40, and six guys who seemed to know their way around a power tool. Three of them I’d never met before in my life. Looking around the room, my doubts hit the ground running. What was I doing there? Would I fit in? What purpose would I serve? The impossibilities were endless.

I wrestled with every conceivable “What If!?” as I presented the information to my husband. What If I couldn’t make the first payment? What If the plane crashed? (I had to stop watching plane crash documentaries.) What If I wasn’t physically fit to take on Alaska? What If I became a liability? After a week of tossing excuses around like a rubber ball, I asked the only “What If!?” that mattered:

What If I just trusted God and went? 

One week later, pinch me I must be dreaming, I was officially accepted as part of the Living Water team. After a brief interlude of uninhibited excitement, I weighed myself down by overthinking, and questioning my motives, the latter of which helped clarify my purpose.

Why was I doing this, anyway?

Part of it, for sure, is to somehow make up for all of the mission trips I didn’t take to Jamaica with my dad while he was alive. Another reason, which was said best by my older sister as we ate greasy food at the local Rutters, “This is your time, Janet!”

I knew what she meant. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for the last 25 years, and have been blessed to have my whole world revolve around my family. Then, while I wasn’t paying attention, little things started falling into place, both in my life and my head. The Calling was audible. I had (still) have no idea exactly what I will be doing up there, but I am going to serve, wherever He wants me.

A Series of Setbacks

The realities of the testing of one’s faith as outlined in the book of James came first in the form of an old colony of hungry termites that ate through two of our walls, followed by the family vehicle that required major surgery, and finally, the death of our washer and dryer. But none of those things could stop God’s plan, as he placed loving, generous friends who provided wise counsel and financial support to keep the dream alive. For someone who felt rejected by the church for the first 49 years of her life, this was the affirmation I craved.

I am a missionary in the making. I think Reverend Lewis would be pleased.

Through an upcoming series of blogs titled “Alaskan Lights”, I invite you to ride along with the Living Water team to Copper Center, Alaska. This spot on the map is where it all began for LightShine Ministries, which has been sending teams all over Alaska since 1995. You’ll be hearing more about LightShine in future blogs, but in the meantime, I’ll leave you with one of their guiding verses: Eph 2:10...

...and a link to their website...

Fun Alaska Fact

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words...

At 591,000 square miles, Alaska is as wide as the lower 48 states and larger than Texas, California and Montana combined.

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much…James 5: 16b KJV:

And, some prayer requests:

Please pray for unity within the Living Water team as we make our way to serve the Copper Center people on June 7th. Pray that God’s Will is evident and that we would have the strength, courage, and resources to follow through. 

I invite you to come along on our journey. 

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2 Yorum

Carol Apgar
Carol Apgar
23 May

Janet - I am so proud of you for stepping out in faith amidst termites, car repairs and broken appliances. These are just "potential detours" thrown on the path to see if you could be deterred from His purpose. I am so glad that we can partner with you in prayer during this journey and you can count on us to hold you up each and every day as you and the LW team head to the great state of Alaska!


23 May

I’m in. I can’t wait to follow the Living Water team through the Alaskan Lights blog!

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