Aug 20, 2020 | 7 min read | Diana Anton
I was holding that piece of paper in my hand. Sitting on the edge of my bed felt like sitting on the edge of a giant rock on top of a high mountain. It was frightening to be there, and I was almost out of breath, despite the fact that I was just sitting there. I was 24 years old, and I was the first member of my family that both lived under the harsh communist regime and got a university education. I graduated at the top of my class, with many supervised practice hours spent in the psychiatric hospital in order to get my psychology licence. And I got it!
I was looking at the results of the excruciating exam that tested both my ability to retain the information contained in 2,500 pages, as well as the capacity to face difficult and stressful situations without crashing and burning. All of this learning had been crammed into a few short years that felt like an eternity to a young woman in her twenties. I was a licensed psychologist, and here I was, looking at the document confirming this unbelievable thing!
Everybody had hopes and dreams for me because I had opportunities that my family did not have. I was eight and a half when freedom came to our country, Romania. I was told that I could do anything I ever wanted and my parents sacrificed greatly so that I could have what they never could. And, whether they were aware of it or not, I felt pressure. I did not want to let them down. I wanted to make them proud. This piece of paper was making them proud. And, to be totally honest, I was feeling quite proud of myself as well.
But, I was torn. Towards the end of this journey of obtaining my license, I started to feel uneasy. Could God be calling me to something else? During my last three years of university I was the only follower of Jesus in my class. The need for the gospel became more and more vivid before my eyes...and my heart. The more I worked towards a career, the more I realized that I wanted my life to be about something else. For a whole summer, God constantly gave me encouragement from various people and a vision for a different kind of life—for an alternate future than the one I had envisioned. Could he be calling me to be a missionary?
I had read about missionaries throughout my childhood. My family had access to underground Christian biographies. We did not have Christian books available for sale, but they were circulating illegally among Christians. Some of the books were reproduced by being typed on an illegal typewriter, with literal carbon copies. I devoured those books. They contained accounts of so many heroes of faith that did not count it as a loss to leave everything in order to follow God’s call to serve him as full-time missionaries. I also had heroes of faith in my own family. All growing up, I saw my dearest people living devoted lives to God, in times when this could cost them everything. My great-grandfather was sent to prison because he would not stop talking about his Savior.
I was inspired by them, these heroes of faith. I appreciated them. And...I did not want that kind of life for myself. It was hard to admit this that day, as I was sitting on the edge of my bed, in our little apartment where I grew up. Why would God allow me to go through all of this hard work if he did not want me to use my license? What would my family say if I started “begging” for money, as support raising was perceived 15 years ago in Romania? What would my classmates say? Also, aren’t all of us who follow Jesus his missionaries—carriers of his message and love wherever we are, no matter our job? And another area of concern was that women were not doing full-time ministry in my country at that time. It was not common.
Did you make a mistake, Lord?
Maybe you shouldn’t call a woman.
And, how is it possible to be a missionary in your own country?
My mind was flooded with a thousand questions, all of these becoming justifications for not going into full-time missionary life. I was scared and I felt like I had good reasons to be. Just like Moses, shoeless and kneeling by that burning bush in the desert, I was shoeless and bent in the solitude of my little room. The ground was holy.
The sun was setting, painting glorious colors in the sky. This sunset was a time of surrender. As I was sitting on the edge of my bed, feeling like I was on the edge of the world about to crash down, I realized something—I was sitting on a rock that was larger than me, than my life. I was placed on a solid rock that was not going to shake even though I was shaking hard.
As the sun was going down, I knew. I knew that if I said yes to God, I would experience a life that I had not envisioned for myself, but that it was going to be good. I wanted safety—Jesus told me, “I am your safety and have promised you eternal safety.” I feared that nobody would want to marry a woman in ministry—Jesus told me, “I am your first Love. I have chosen you. You are Mine.” I wanted popularity and recognition—Jesus told me, “DU, be about my Kingdom, not yours—seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).
That night I decided to say “Yes!” to God’s calling to become a full-time missionary. I have been what we call a “national missionary” with Josiah Venture since 2005. It has not always been an easy journey. I was not wrong in thinking that it would be difficult to raise support as a national missionary, to be a woman in ministry in Romania, or that people would think that I am wasting my life and my gifts (I am still hearing this, even at 39 years old). But, I would not trade this life for anything else. I have no back-up plan. My only back-up is the one on whom I am standing, my rock and my Redeemer.
“Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” - Psalm 62:1
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