I remember well the time that I sat down with Mark and Kendra* in a hotel lobby as they told me the unbelievable story of how they ended up with teaching jobs in the Middle East. They were seasoned teachers with growing children. So what had happened in their lives that they were now picking up their careers and moving to a large city in the Middle East, to teach? You see, when a person fully grasps that their life is not meant to be hoarded, but rather given for the cause of advancing the Gospel around the world, things change. Mark and Kendra totally grasped this. They were not deterred by the fact that they were well established in their careers and lives within their communities. He was a well loved coach. How could they possibly give their "perfect" life up for something completely different?
When I first talked to them they were in serious discussions with a school in East Asia. This was not going to be an easy move either. The country was very poor and living conditions were going to require a major shift in life style. But they were excited about the opportunities for their family to serve practical needs during their non-teaching hours. As I talked to them, I almost wondered if they saw a divide between the "secular" and the "sacred" I wasn't sure yet if they also understood that their secular jobs could be opportunities to be salt and light for Jesus.
So it was interesting to me that they ended up with completely different job offers by the end of the weekend. Mark and Kendra had attended an international teacher's job fair where licensed and qualified teachers from all over the US came to apply for teaching jobs all over the world. This is a legit fair. Many many applicants walk away with a job in hand, after turning down multiple jobs. I met a girl who had been offered 5 different jobs in 5 different countries! For Mark and Kendra though, they were there all weekend interviewing with various schools, receiving offers and praying about where God would have them. When they began to consider a serious offer to work at a school in the Middle East, I think it took them by surprise. This was not on their radar, at all. But God was slowly revealing exactly where He wanted them. The job offer to the East Asian country fell through. The job offer in the Middle East would put them in a position to teach nationals, rather than just international English speakers. Could it be that God actually wanted them in the Middle East as teachers? As we sat in that hotel lobby there was a sense of peace about them. Kendra talked about ideas she had for intentionally and carefully bringing up her faith with her students. Their kids were, surprisingly, really really excited about the change in plans to this desert country. They really were going to be moving to the Middle East.
Recently, their missions pastor wrote me and said that they are doing really well a year into their new teaching jobs. In fact, he wrote me because he wanted to know more about he can get his congregation involved with taking their careers overseas. What an amazing story of one couple leaving all that was comfortable; not to become missionaries, but to be themselves, in a foreign country for the sake of the Gospel. Their church supports them and is now looking for more ways to send people around the world, through their careers. In my mind, this is exactly what Jesus was talking about when he said he would send people to the ends of the earth . . . Want to know more about teaching overseas? Next week we're talking all about teaching abroad and we'll even tell you HOW to do it! Stay tuned!
*Names changed for security