God didn’t take me seriously

Why one woman scrapped her plans to not work overseas or study the Bible

“I had basically told God that I would never go to Bible College and that I would never do missions, but I don’t think he really took me seriously,” says Ann*, who will shortly head off to Asia as a long-term missionary after studying at a local Bible College.

Having worked in allied health for several years, Ann went on a short term mission to a country in Asia for two weeks. “I completely lost my heart to it,” shares Ann.

“I came back and was saving so that I could quit my job and go and volunteer.”

She then worked overseas for nine months, to suss out if she could go longer term. Upon returning to Australia, her family and friends asked if she was going to go to Bible College. She steadfastly refused, until a mission agency told her that most agencies require at least one year of theological training. She reluctantly quit her job, and enrolled at Bible College.

“[College] really does show us the worst of ourselves as we struggle in relationships, and the best of us as redeemed through God’s grace.” – Ann

“I loved college. It was amazing. I loved how deep we got to delve into the word, and I especially loved the lectures where the rubber hit the road and we could practically apply it.”

“It’s a real gift to be able to have this time, where you’re not defined by your job or in the workforce. Time that you are able to set aside and reflect on God’s word. You see yourself grow and reflected through [that] word. It really does show us the worst of ourselves as we struggle in relationships, and the best of us as redeemed through God’s grace,” says Ann.

But for Ann, parts of her Bible College experience were difficult, such as living with dozens of other women in college accommodation. She also found it hard to leave behind the job she had and to always be able to see the value in what she was being taught.

“I really missed work. I really missed people and I loved my job, so being at college – it was a struggle to sit and see how these lectures were important for everyday life and for people ‘out there’. It felt very far removed, and tackling ancient languages probably didn’t help there!

“And it’s hard not to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others at college, especially when it looks like people are easing through the course, smashing out Greek, and I’m just struggling to pass.

“[College] really shapes your character, and hopefully for the better.” – Ann

“We’ve been used to ‘adulting’ out in the world and suddenly we come in to this space that is hard to describe … As Christian women, we come together and we’re harder on each other than we are on people on ‘the outside’. We’re more prone to show grace to nonbelievers or give them a little bit of leeway, whereas with each other it can be quite brutal.

“So even though you might feel like [you are] a bit on the edges in women’s accommodation, the question of how you practically show love to your neighbour [others living in the College community] is much harder. [College] really shapes your character, and hopefully for the better,” says Ann.

Since graduating college, Ann has been preparing to move to Asia, where she plans to work with children with disability.

Christian believers in that part of the world face many challenges in following Christ. So as a single woman in her late 20s, it seems like a pretty big decision Ann has made to become a missionary there. And her family have their reservations too.

“My family don’t want me to go, but that’s not a new thing. The thing with Christian families is that there’s a lot of guilt tied up with it. Christians feel as if they should be supportive and as if they should love the fact that their child is going, but it’s different when it comes to their own daughter. And when safety comes into it, that’s a hard thing for them to let me go.”

“For me, Christianity is never something that you can do by halves.” – Ann

“But I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life. I’m excited about what God has in store in the future. I’m excited to see how He’s going to be at work.

“For me, Christianity is never something that you can do by halves. You always leave everything and pick up your cross and follow him. It’s not like you can have a foot in both worlds. It doesn’t seem illogical to me, it seems like the only logical way of doing it. Short term, you can see short gains, but if you really want to invest long term in people’s lives, we’re in it for the long haul,” says Ann.

*Ann’s name has been changed for security reasons