Sarah, a Story of God's Calling
Faithful. Pursuing. Direct. This is who God has been to Sarah throughout her life, and He has proven it time and time again in many different seasons. Sarah is the manager of Education and the Director of 40 Days with Extreme. Apart from her job description in South America, she is also an ordained minister with the Church of the Nazarene and comes to Extreme with loads of ministry and discipleship experience. What would make her decide to join forces with this budding missions organization? Well, the story is pretty amazing.
Sarah grew up as the daughter of a pastor, so hosting missionaries in her church as well as her home was not out of the ordinary. She read all the missions books as a child and was always interested in missions. When she was 11 years old, missionary Harmon R. Schmelzenbach spoke at a conference that Sarah attended. “I literally thought I heard someone say, ‘Sarah, you’re going to be a missionary someday.’ I looked at my dad and he wasn’t even looking at me; he was looking at the speaker. So I told him, ‘Dad, I think I’m supposed to be a missionary.’ And he wisely told me, ‘I think you should pray about that.’”
The call to missions sat on the back burner for 10 years. She attended Olivet Nazarene University and graduated with an English degree. As she puts it, “I thought: in case God would ask me to go to another country, I could use this to teach English or something like that. I was always trying to find a way to make God’s call work into my plans.” She got a job near her hometown as an English teacher at a high school and also worked with preschool kids. One day after she landed a job at a church and without knowing anything about her call, her pastor said to her, “Hey, when are you going to admit that you’re supposed to be a pastor?” Her pursuing Father God once again called her even deeper into ministry.
After a few years of serving on staff at a church in spiritual formation, Sarah began looking around for a place to spend her sabbatical. She sat down at her computer and googled, “Nazarene Pastors on Sabbatical Overseas.” The second option on the list was the Spanish Language Institute, put on by Extreme, in Arequipa, Peru. So she packed her bags and headed south. “I thought that I was coming to learn a little Spanish for six weeks. I didn’t know much about the organization. The first day I met Chris Stringer, he asked me, ‘When are you going to join Extreme?’” The idea of changing career paths had not been an option. She laughed, “You go on a sabbatical to rest; you don’t go to find another job.”
Soon after her return to the States, Sarah attended General Assembly. “Everything I was reading, hearing, seeing...even the lessons I was supposed to teach were all about the Great Commission, about going and making disciples of all nations.” People surrounded the room holding posters with names of cities from different world areas. The person in front of her was holding the Quito, Ecuador sign. It was later that she would find out that Quito was indeed where she would be moving. God left nothing to chance; His voice was clear and concise. “Go and make disciples.”
Since coming to Extreme, she has searched for and found her niche as the Director of Education and Director of 40 Days. In the education department, she is responsible for overseeing the equipping of all 40/40 missionaries that go on the field. This includes language school and ministry training. In 40 Days, she organizes groups that come to Ecuador to have a deeper experience with Christ through books, worship, and partnership with the ministry that is happening on the field. These are exciting days to be in both of these areas, and Sarah is doing an amazing job.
“I just want to emphasize how faithful God has been in getting me where He wanted me to be and in designing the perfect job for me.” What’s the vision? “For 40 Days, having a North American group during each summer, to give 18-28 year old college-aged singles the opportunity to develop a great foundation of following Christ and being His disciples; to give them an opportunity to experience a place outside the United States. We are also talking about the possibility of a Spanish-speaking 40 Days for South Americans. For the Education plan – it’s simple. We want to set missionaries up to be successful on the field, having the tools and experiences they need about discipleship so they can go and make disciples.”
Sarah knows that God is a pursuing God who never leaves anything to chance. She knows that He is direct about His calling. But above all else, He is a faithful God, unmoving and unchanging. Because He is faithful, Sarah can be solid in every season of life. Sarah, keep up the powerful witness and testimony! God is using you in great ways.
For two and a half years Chelsea served on the field as a 40/40 Church Planter in the Ecuadorian city, Ambato. She has recently started working on Extreme's Messaging Team to excite others about mission work. Chelsea is currently in Nebraska raising funds for her work and spending time with her cats, one of the which snores loudly while she works from home. You can follow Chelsea on her personal blog at: http://chelseamaxine-all-in.com