Jamie Smithey, missionary to Chile, wrote the following in answer to some of the questions that I am asking my missionary friends. I hope you will enjoy his answers. The hope is that you would find the answers to some of your questions.
How did God confirm to you that you should be a missionary?
I know the typical answer has something to do with some fanciful idea of a special calling that miraculously took place as a one time event that occurred at the height and zenith of some special meeting where the glory fell down, but for me; my confirmation was rather boring compared to those who have had that experience.
From the time was saved I have been blessed to be in churches that stressed World Evangelism, and from that I have always had an interest in missions. My confirmation came by process of elimination. From the time I was saved I started serving in my local church and as opportunities came available I made myself and family available to take advantage of those opportunities.
I have worked in every ministry from the nursery to the nursing home and loved everyone of them, but no matter how well things went; there was always a longing to do more. I would explain to others that it was like the Lord kept telling me there is more than this, or there is something else I have for you, so I kept seeking opportunities to serve the Lord.
Then during a missions conference a visiting preacher was talking about the need for churches in America to reproduce themselves specifically outside of America. He shared statistics that were staggering to me. I don’t remember them fully but it seemed to be that there was one church in America for every 24,000 people and only one missionary in the world for every two million people.
After hearing this I begin to think maybe that instead of trying to keep doing things at home I should consider becoming a missionary. I sought some godly counsel, prayed for direction, read my Bible, and discussed things with my wife, and after a short period of time and a conversation with a friend, who brought to my attention that since the majority of the world lived outside the US it was a good possibility that the Lord would have us do a work outside the US, I made a choice to become a missionary. I prayed for direction for a field, got confirmation from the Lord, and started off on the deputation trail. Since, that little voice within that I was talking about went from whispering there’s something else I have for you to shouting “THIS IS IT”!
What in your childhood prepared you to be a missionary?
Nothing in my childhood could really be seen as preparation for the mission field without understanding the Lord is in control of all things. I was not raised in a Christian home. I knew more about drugs, alcohol, and gambling than I did about Christ or church in general, for that matter. My family never attended church regularly and I was not save until I was 19. So spiritualy speaking there wasn’t much prep work.
However, my dad and mom were both hard workers who believed you gave everything your all and you finish what you start. They imparted unto me a great work ethic. That work ethic has proven to be valuable in completing Bible college, deputation, and no doubt will be a great help on the field. Also, I see God’s hand in my situation as a child in knowing how to relate to people who’s home life is going to be very similar to my upbringing in the country where my family and I will be working.
I never heard great stories about missionaries. I never heard of the adventurous tells of men like Hudson Taylor, David Livingstone, and Adoniram Judson. I never knew the lives of the men in the Bible who turned the world upside down. I wasn’t taught that Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost, and he wanted us to join with him in his quest to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. BUT, I was taught how to work and from what I have seen in the ministry and been told by the greatest missionaries of our day that may be the greatest lesson in preparing for missions.
How did your family react?
My wife and children had a great reaction. They were excited that we were going to have the opportunity to take the gospel to those who may have never heard it before. To work in a place where there wasn’t as much light as there is here in the US. They had no reservations and have been all in from the beginning. Our parents, accept for my dad, was and is a completely different story all together.
My wife’s parents thought we are just chasing after some adventure and that we could do just a s much good here as we could any where else. My mother, who still has not come to terms with the situation, believes I am an idiot and don’t have a clue what I am doing, but my dad he is awesome. He thinks we are doing the greatest thing on earth and has and is doing all he can do to help get us to the field. Since both my wife’s parents and my parents are christians we expected that they would all be like my dad, boy were we wrong.