Friday, July 31, 2015

Leaving the Ordinary Extraordinary

by TLC Nielsen

Out of all the different kinds of people I meet, I find myself fascinated by those called to the mission field. To me, the extraordinary choice to leave the familiar and ordinary and head out into the unknown, serving in a new community day in and day out on missionary pay seems to define bravery. I heard about Kate Perkins just before she joined Youth With a Mission, YWAM.

Hello Kate! Thanks for answering questions about your journey into missions.

Kate's photo of Nicaragua 2015
Q) I feel missionary folks are the best examples of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. How did you end up going into missions?
A) I knew when I was 17 that the amount of love I had for children was a gift from God, and that He wanted me to work overseas with orphans. I went to college for a counseling degree and turned away from God in the process. The next 8 years were a mess. I still wanted to follow my calling but had major sin in my life. I fell on my face twice (trying to answer His call my way) before I simply decided to wait until God gave me the green light to go into missions. I moved to the Chicago area to take care of my grandma in 2010 and found an amazing church family at Pathway Community Church in Elmhurst, Illinois.

By late 2012, I was also nannying part time for a friend. When she told me her new employer wasn’t paying her what they said they were going to, and they simply couldn’t keep me on, I asked God, “Ok, what’s next?” I saw the words mission agency move across my mind’s eye. I told God, “That’s a great idea, to get a part time job with a mission agency!” I didn’t know such a thing didn’t exist. Over the next two weeks, God made it plain that He wanted me to do a Discipleship Training School with Youth With a Mission. At 92, Gramma was doing okay be was not able to live on her own so I asked God, “What about Gramma?” He said, “I love her more than you do, and she’s not your responsibility.” I told my family about YWAM, and they took it well. A week later Gramma fell backwards on a step and hit her head, which was the beginning of the end. Three months later she got to see Jesus and Grandpa. Two months later I went to Madison, Wisconsin to attend DTS, and it completely changed my life.

Q) What has been the most surprising thing of mission work for you?
A) Mission work is both easier and harder than I ever imagined. Easier because I love it so much, and harder because people are broken and hurting and they require a lot of healing as they grow. I work in Admissions and get to talk to prospective students about the potential impact a DTS can have on their lives. I simply LOVE my work. I didn't originally want to join YWAM at all, but God made it very plain to me that this was His ideal for me. Now, I tell as least one co-worker a day, "I love my job!" simply because I love telling people the impact that Jesus can make on their life. A Discipleship Training School is like a five month retreat with God. Most people leave this retreat very different people than when they came, because they've met with Jesus face to face, and have begun to know Him for who He really is. It's just so beautiful!

Q) Raising support seems the hardest part of mission work. How do you handle this financial aspect of your calling?
A) At first it was really hard to ask my church family and my friends to support me financially. As Americans, and in my family, we were taught to work as hard as needed to take good care of ourselves, and provide for our own needs. It was a struggle at first to set aside that part of being 'American' and realize that I wasn't begging, or simply asking people for money. I was inviting people to join in a God adventure! I am living an adventure that I never know where it's going to take me, and I want to influence as many people as possible as I go, where ever I go. Jesus commanded His disciples to go and make disciples. It wasn't the Great Suggestion! Once I understood that Jesus lived on support, and Paul did too, I began to realize there was no way that I could work 10-12 hour days with YWAM and be able to work a job too. Jesus didn't expect that of me either. I had to lay down my pride, and admit that I needed God's people to do as He asked them to do, and accept the support. God's missionaries are not called to be poor, to be ragged, or to constantly go without. God provides enough for His kids because He is a generous dad. If you are considering joining the mission field, don't let the lack of finances stand in your way. God is generous to His children, and will make sure you have enough, even if it's in the nick of time. 

Q) DTS, Discipleship Training School, gave you the opportunity to lay aside so much of what you thought you knew about God and mission work. How did this change you? 
A) One of the biggest things was that I saw God as far away, and a distant king on His throne. I had been to Bible College, and knew all the 'facts', but it wasn't enough for a real relationship with God. In DTS, I learned that God is a good Dad, who wants me to climb up and sit in His lap and tell him all about my day, what I'm thinking, and how I'm feeling. That He wants to hear what I think. That He wants to know how I feel. That He wants to have the intimacy of deep relationship. This changed everything, and it's still changing everything as our relationship is growing deeper. 

I also became much more comfortable in my own skin. My thoughts were no longer obsessed with what other people might be thinking of me, or how to respond well in a situation. I was simply learning to be me, and it felt good. 

Q) What do you enjoy most about working with the organization YWAM?
A) Oh this is a hard question because it's hard to narrow it down! YWAM is like a giant family. People know you, have grace for you, work with you, love you, challenge you, mess with you, joke with you, and never give up on you. They want what's best for you, and expect you to give your best. I love my YWAM family dearly. 

The family is always open too. Three times a year, we are running Discipleship Training Schools, where 10-35 students are welcomed in, loved, challenged, discipled, honed, and released back to their homes. Some of them come on staff with YWAM, and others pursue ministry in government, commerce, or the business world. The family is always growing. Once a YWAMer, always a YWAMer. It changes you deep inside your heart. 

Q) Is there something “unexpected” going on in your life that you’d like to share?
A) I just got back from leading a short term mission group in Nicaragua for 10 days! Leading the group was definitely not on my radar, but it was a lot of fun, and I think we made an impact. The youth group students seemed changed, and the people we worked with appreciated our work, and teaching too. I don't consider myself to be a leader, but God keeps giving me opportunities to lead! 

Thanks for reading Kate's Leaving the Ordinary Extraordinary story. Check out YWAM online:
YWAM Madison:

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