I had the blessing of being raised in a Christian family and being taken to church and Sunday school from birth. We heard the reports of missionaries who visited our church and often read stories of missionaries, both real life and fictional. To my young mind, these all seemed to be a huge adventure but became something more after giving my own life to the Lord. As I grew to know Him more, these stories took on a new look for me, as God was becoming much more in the picture of my life.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do in my life at that stage, but I was sure I wanted to do what God had called me to do, whatever that was. I often dreamed of being a missionary in Africa or some other frontier place. Interestingly, as I look back now, there was always an interest in planes and flying, although I had no idea at the time that it would later become a large part of my service to the Lord.
As I went through my teenage years, my faith and desire to follow the Lord held strong even though my life was anything but angelic at times. Let me just say that I am thankful that our Saviour is longsuffering and forgiving. When it came to thinking about what I would do after leaving school, I prayed for direction and finally believed the Lord would have me take up an apprenticeship I had been offered, as a motor mechanic.
When Lorraine and I married, we chose Matt 6:25-34 as our verses, not realizing how much we would depend on these verses many years later. As our family grew, the desire for a call of the Lord to full-time service was still in the background and the subject of my prayers often.
Finally, the day came when the Lord made it clear that He was calling us to full-time service for Him but without any direction as to where or what. I was excited and told my wife and my father, who was a godly man. I was ready to go right there and then to wherever the Lord would lead me, but my father wisely put the brakes on by asking me not where, but when? I had assumed that since I had received the Lord’s call, it would mean going right away, but now it was back to the drawing board, or should I say, the prayer closet.
I was to discover that there was much learning to be done, maturing to happen and patience to be acquired. It would be a further ten years before the time was right to leave everyday work life and go full-time for the Lord. So often we want to do what we think the Lord’s calling us to do right now, and so often the Lord is not in so much of a hurry. Waiting is difficult, but “wait on the Lord” we must.
My journey to the mission field was not via Bible College, missionary training school or anything like that. I have no degrees or official training, but the Lord prepared me through those years as I studied His Word personally, completed Bible courses via correspondence and gained experience by being active in church, preaching, teaching, serving and outreach, along with life experience.
Thrown into the training, to my surprise and delight, was the Lord’s leading to get my pilot’s license. I sensed then that the Lord’s work for me probably included flying, so I began to take an even deeper interest in missions that involved aviation. Yet it was not to a flying ministry that the Lord first called us, even though I was by then a fully licensed private pilot.
I gradually took on more and more ministry through our church while I was running my own mechanical repair business, but began to find I could not do both very effectively. Through much prayer, we decided it was the right time to ask our local Assembly if they would support the idea of us entering full-time faith ministry. Our local Assembly could see that this was God’s calling on our lives, just as we had come to believe. They commended us to serve as God’s servants ministering in our local church and in other churches with other ministries, as God gave opportunity. It turned out to be a baptism of fire for us. We decided to finish that financial year by winding up the business then beginning full-time ministry, trusting the Lord for our income. But immediately, Lorraine ended up in hospital with complications in her pregnancy. After much time in hospital and trips to specialists and bigger hospitals, we had to part with our dear little boy as the Lord took him home. But rather than weaken our faith and commitment to serve the Lord, the experience served to strengthen us.
The Victorian Full-time Workers committee and the MAC also decided they should support the commendation of our Assembly and commended us as Missioners. We served in this role for four and a half years before receiving the call to move to Longreach, Queensland to serve in Outback Aerial Mission. The call I refer to was not the letter inviting us to apply for the job, but the settled peace that God gave us that this is where He would have us serve Him. This was a big move for our family of seven, with no finances to even make the move.
We had become so confident that this was the Lord’s will for us that we signed up to buy a house in Longreach without a sale on our house in Victoria, nor the funds to even put down a deposit, just a strong faith that God would provide for what He had called us to. And He has. We serve in the Outback flying a little plane to cover the vast distances in order to share God’s Word in schools and towns and on properties wherever we can, and He still provides all that we need for the mission and for our family.
I am certain that the pathway to mission is as varied as the individuals that God calls to go. I have shared a look into our pathway in the hope that this may encourage others to listen for God’s call, whether it is to stay and serve Him as a missionary in your own workplace, neighbourhood or school, or whether it is to go far away from home to serve Him elsewhere in the world.
The question is often asked, “How do I know the will of God?” Here are my thoughts on the matter. Firstly, be confident in how well He knows you and your heart, and that He will answer those who seek Him. Don’t pay too much attention to the advice of those who may tell you how to “hear” the will of the Lord, because He will tell you in His own way if your heart is in the right place as you ask Him for answers. If your own will is to obey Him and to go and do whatever He asks, wherever He sends, then you are in the right place to ask Him to lead and guide you.
Secondly, don’t depend fully on visions, dreams, words of wisdom or Bible passages given to you. Yes, it might be the Lord speaking to you, but Satan is also able to give you those. If the idea is truly the will of the Lord, it will be supported by the advice of godly people who know you and circumstances that fall into place, and lastly, wonderful peace that He gives when we are on the right track.
Is missionary service an adventure? It sure is, but only if God is doing the calling.
By Steve Cavill