I recently attended a retirement dinner for the Director of Global Missions at Asbury. It was a time for reflecting back on 25 years of service that Mary Ann Smith gave to God and the church. Undoubtedly, most all the attendees were remembering Mary Ann’s contribution to their personal development in the field of missions as well.
Within a few short weeks of my giving my life to Christ, I heard an invitation from the pulpit to join a team of volunteers for a week of service at McCurdy School in New Mexico. That was the beginning. Every year thereafter for more than a decade, I traveled with other Asburians to places in the United States, Mexico, Costa Rico, Guatemala and Alaska. We worked hard in light construction, painting, roofing, cleaning up—most of which I’d done very little of, if any at all, during my life.
The trips were both exhausting and exhilarating. But most of all, they were enlightening. Spending a week together with other Christians, talking about and thinking about our heavenly Father, while keeping the hands busy serving the less fortunate in the name of Jesus, cannot help but change anyone. No matter how hard the work, at the end of the week I always returned home having received far more than I gave. In other words, it is impossible to out-give God; His blessings are that abundant.
Eventually, my teaching schedule conflicted with the VIM trips and I had to put the teaching of God’s word ahead of the construction work, because teaching was and is my first calling. However, thanks to the impressive missions program at Asbury, the love of missions had been firmly planted in my heart.
Five years ago I received an email through our website inviting us to come teach inductive Bible study techniques in Myanmar. The thought of flying halfway around the world to meet someone we’d never met was a bit daunting. But after much prayer and standing on faith, we set the date and made the trip, where we met Philip and came to love him as a brother. We’ve been returning once or twice a year ever since. Myanmar has become a focus of our ministry.
I can look back now and see exactly where it all started: That first trip to McCurdy School. Followed by another and then another. It is always to God’s glory that we do what we do, because He is the One who determines what we are called to do. But many thanks to Mary Ann Smith for opportunities her work has provided and the encouragement she has given over the years.