My favorite part of being a Missionary:

We all have people who have invested in our lives. Most of us have experienced the joy of those relationships as well as the sadness that comes when they end. Over time people move, change jobs, change churches, or end up in different seasons of life that bring new friendships more fitting for the time and we are left with our pictures and memories.

One of the joys of being a missionary, sustained by the prayer and finances of ministry partners, is having a reason to connect or re-connect with friends and family. I have LOVED getting to re-establish relationships and deepen existing friendships with the people on my support team. 

I have coached in 3 states, lived in 7 cities, worked for 6 organizations, spent 2 summers in 2 countries, and attended numerous churches and small groups. I have family, co-workers, friends, and former students all over the world. I have shared a lot of life with a lot of people and knowing it’s not possible to sustain all these relationships that has always bothered me. 

It’s unfortunate that we are limited in our daily capacity for how many meaningful relationships we can maintain. However, for me, the number and depth of significant relationships have increased tremendously by being a missionary who has a support team. 

The first step to creating your team is making a list of all the people who have been a part of your life over the years. Many of us reminisce about the past but my reminiscing included reconnecting and getting to share what God had been doing in my life and what He is doing through Emmaus Ministries. I loved getting to connect with the friends I have made over the last 36 years and sharing about the things going on in our lives.   

When someone joins your support team, you have a new connection and reason to stay in touch. Even when you live in different cities, you are linked together by a mission and you are connected to each other. My life was richer after I spent time with so many people this summer.

During the first half of my visit alone I spent time with:

  • My former employers at Franklin Christian Academy
  • My Resident Director from college
  • Dear family friends in Milan
  • Two girls I started coaching in 2010
  • The parents of two players I coached
  • 3 kids I fell in love with when I worked at a day care in college (who are now in college themselves)
  • Two friends from two small groups 
  • Three siblings I taught at FCA
  • A young lady I met when I worked at Mercy Multiplied and later mentored for 1.5 years
  • A former student and another student’s mom 
  • My mom’s Bible study leader

Connecting and re-connecting with people who have been a part of my life has been a huge blessing and I’m so thankful.

Reminiscing and catching up are always fun, but my favorite part is the depth of conversation that comes when people are joining your ministry and you instinctively talk about God. It’s common for relationships to revolve around small talk rather than the deeper things in life such as our relationship with God. That is not the case with my supporters. All our dinners, coffee meetings, phone calls, and texts revolved around the things that really matter in life. Our conversations were encouraging, inspiring and some were full of tears due to earthly struggles but all of them made my life richer and led me to prayer when I left. 

I am now deeply connected to a group of people that are pouring into my life in so many unexpected ways. My goal is to invest in them as well. I pray regularly that God will bless them spiritually, relationally, and financially as they are a blessing to me.

2 Cor 9:11-13- “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”

Deut 15:10- “You shall generously give and without a grudging heart; God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.

 Upcoming blogs- 

  • Having a meaningful relationship between missionaries and supporters.
  • Answering honest questions people have about supporting missionaries.
  • How my generosity has increased since becoming a missionary.
  • Ask a Missionary- What questions do you have for missionaries?
  • Interviews with some of my friends who are missionaries.
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Do you know any MISSIONARIES personally?

I was a missions major in college. It’s a long story, but I don’t think I ever fully expected to be an overseas missionary. I definitely didn’t have a country or people group on my heart like most of my classmates. I never once considered that I might be an in-state missionary. 

I’ve heard a lot of people say they hope God never asks them to be a missionary; I understand that. Although I never said that myself, I completely understand it. Most people are comfortably settled in their own cities and homes and wouldn’t want to move or raise support. Even though I didn’t leave the country, I had zero desire to move to Florida. While I’m thankful that my move didn’t require learning a new language, leaving home and raising support were still big steps that took me way out of my comfort zone.

When I first said yes to Emmaus I started reading a book by missionaries, for missionaries. I will never forget when I read: “If a billionaire offered to pay the full salary of all of our staff I would graciously decline. Yes, I would be open to putting those funds toward ministry projects, but I could not deprive our staff of the incredible experience and growth that comes with raising support. Nor could I rob thousands of our donors of their eternal rewards.”

I can’t say I totally agree with that sentiment but there is a lot there to unpack and I can affirm that there are many incredible things I have experienced by being a missionary and having a support team.

According to statistics, less than .05 % of Americans are missionaries, which means there is a good chance most people don’t have a personal relationship with a missionary. Considering this, I would like to share some insider knowledge since I am now part of the .05 % 🙂

I am going to write a series of blogs to try and provide some insight into this unfamiliar people group known as, MISSIONARIES. 

I want to begin by sharing one of my favorite parts about being a missionary. Since a lot of people pray that God won’t call them to be a missionary I’ll share a different perspective. One of the best things about having a support team is the ongoing, enduring connections and the meaningful, life giving conversations I get to have with my team. Tune in next week as I elaborate on why these connections and conversations have been such a sweet reward of raising support.

If you want to make sure you don’t miss one of the blogs you can click the “follow button” on the far right corner at the bottom and put in your email address (sometimes it disappears for a minute as you scroll). 

Please feel free to share this link on social media so we can make missionaries more familiar!

I did something “crazy”………. I became a missionary.

A year ago, I did something “crazy”…… I became a missionary. 

Now, one year later, I find myself telling people that it changed my life.

The first-time my friend, and director of Emmaus Ministries, approached me about coming on staff I wouldn’t even entertain the idea. I did not want to be a missionary and I did not want to live in Florida. 

Nevertheless, the unexpected events of the next two years culminated in me saying, “Yes” to Emmaus and having to raise support as a missionary. This decision turned out to be the catalyst of a deep work that God began in my heart. 

When I resigned from teaching and started creating a support raising plan I wasn’t thinking about how being a missionary would affect my relationship with God. Preparing to raise a yearly salary for the foreseeable future was daunting, but it gave me an opportunity to seek God and trust Him in ways I never had before. 

The truth is, my prayer life began to grow as I experienced a need for God that I hadn’t always felt. This was probably the biggest prayer request I ever presented to God and unlike some prayers, that we forget we prayed, I would be following up with Him on this one. 

This was a prayer that I couldn’t accomplish on my own and the stakes were high. In my own strength, I could probably raise enough money to go on a mission trip, but only God could provide me with enough partners to be a full-time missionary. I could share my passion for what we do at Emmaus, but only God could mold hearts into cheerful, willing givers. I could tell my story, but only God could put it on someone’s heart to invest their money into a ministry in Florida. 

This year has brought a lot of change. The obvious- I now live in Florida and I work for a para-church ministry, but a hundred other things have changed in my heart. 

I will share a few:

  • We all need situations that are too big for us to handle by ourselves. This gives us the chance to seek God, trust Him, and experience His realness and His provision. I don’t love the process but experiencing Him working in your life is definitely worth it.
  • Having to depend on God can change your prayer life and your relationship with Him. My relationship with God deepened as I talked to Him more and more and watched and waited for Him to work.

When you are preparing to go into ministry as a missionary, you need God to show up and you need other believers to invest in your work. These needs increased my passion to “live a life worthy of the calling” and to let God do in me, all that I was preparing to do through this ministry. 

In the middle of this preparation and praying through my own life, I realized I had a chip on my shoulder. It had created some bitterness that I didn’t even know was there. I kept asking God to work on my heart because I knew I couldn’t dig up all the roots. I told Him I would do everything I knew to do externally, but I needed the Holy Spirit to change my heart internally. 

  • I am so thankful to say that He has truly done a deep work in my heart. The work is not over but there have been tangible changes that have already taken place and I am a better person because of it.
  • I’m reminded that there is no change as powerful as the change that you see and feel happening inside your heart when the Holy Spirit is partnering with you and making you new from the inside out.

A few things I learned from the process of raising support:

  • It is a profound experience to need the Body of Christ and to have to lean on them.
  • Although I believed I had a biblical understanding and practice of money and giving, I had never studied it in-depth and when I did I was challenged. (More to come on this in my next blog)
  • Becoming a missionary has allowed me to experience some of God’s Words for the first time. Throughout the OT God is constantly showing them that He is the ultimate provider (Deut 8:17-18). One of the main purposes of the Sabbath laws was for the Israelites to experience this reality. They were required to trust God by not working, so they wouldn’t forget that he is the one who takes care of them. In the wilderness he told them to only gather enough manna for one day. He wanted them to learn to trust that he would provide for them daily. I now relate to the Israelites because I also found it easier to trust an employer than God to provide for me. However, I’m learning to trust God in new ways that have really grown my faith and relationship with him. THANK YOU, my ministry partners, for being the conduit of His provision.  
  • The Israelites had several Sabbath laws. They had to practice trusting God every 7 days, every 7th year, and every 50th year and unfortunately most of them weren’t faithful to this. I pray that missionaries everywhere will continue to trust God year after year for him to provide through the Body of Christ. The need for provision is ongoing, but “the earth and everything in it belong to the Lord” Ps 24:1

Since most Christians will be giving to missionaries instead of becoming one I will expand on this and share more about what I have learned in my next blog.

Thank you to everyone who is investing in kingdom work with any church or ministry!

To learn more about Emmaus or to invest in our mission email me at kmarsh34@yahoo.com or go to https://emmausbibleministries.org

Mormons and The Bachelor

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A few weeks ago, while in Utah, I unexpectedly ended up in several conversations with Mormons. Two weeks after I got back a Mormon from Franklin, TN sent me a letter in the mail. I have no idea how she got my information but three weeks later I received a second letter.

This week I learned even more about Mormonism when my aunt recorded a show called, “Mormons in America”. After watching it I discovered that there is a show called the Mormon Bachelor so of course I watched an episode of that too 🙂

Yes, you heard me correctly, there is a now a Mormon Bachelor and Bachelorette show. Well, technically it’s just on you-tube. It hasn’t become a big enough hit to make prime time but Mormons believe in marrying other like-minded Mormons and since only 1% of the world is Mormon they have a small dating pool. If that intrigues you, you can check it out here –

I had a lot of thoughts after learning more about Mormonism and talking to so many Mormons. I felt a desire to engage in more conversations, I felt sad knowing they don’t know Jesus, I felt dismay regarding some of their beliefs, but I also felt a kinship.

Below is what I wrote when I got home from Salt Lake City (if you are one of my Emmaus supporters you have already read that portion) and afterwards I explain why I once again felt a kinship to the Mormons.

My plans in Salt Lake City included mountains, cool weather, hiking and biking but having conversations with Mormons never crossed my mind. Unbeknownst to me, our hotel was a block from the Temple Square so I found myself in multiple unexpected conversations about God and the Bible. We took a tour of temple square with 3 Mormons serving their two-year mission, went to the Joseph Smith Museum and hotel, and went to Brigham Young’s house. We were able to engage with all of the Mormons leading our tours and working at the museum.

I learned a lot about Mormonism and saw yet another reason why what we do at Emmaus is so important. The people I talked to had such a genuine and kind demeanor and my heart broke for them as they are so misguided. They do not know the Bible or the God of the Bible.

A few things you may not know about Mormonism:

  • They believe in the Bible, though I say that loosely. They will tell you they believe in the Bible and they say the read it alongside the Book of Mormon. However, they also believe in new revelation and their religion started because Joseph Smith said he received a more current revelation from God.

Having never studied Mormonism I knew I was not prepared to dialog in-depth regarding their specific beliefs that contradict Scripture, but I was able to ask a lot of questions.

Though they shared that they study the Bible and the Book of Mormon their understanding of Scripture was minimal. They seem to value and study the Book of Mormon significantly more than the Scripture, though no one would readily confirm that when I asked.

What was clear was that they didn’t know the Bible well enough to notice even the the most obvious contradictions between it and the Book of Mormon. It was clear that no one has taught them how to study Scripture and most of them have not read through the Bible. I hope to have more opportunities to talk with them about God because I also felt a kinship with them.

Though they look to the Book of Mormon and I submit to the Bible I felt an unforeseen affinity for how they live their lives. Most of my life I’ve felt “different” from the world around me. The average teenager, college student, and young adult seemed to live a very secular lifestyle that was not compatible with my beliefs and desires.

As I watched the documentary I appreciated how their beliefs are lived out in their lives. They dress modestly, they are almost all virgins when they get married, they don’t get drunk with alcohol because they don’t drink and they spend two years of their lives as missionaries! Not only do they devote two years of their lives to evangelism but they immerse themselves in study and preparation, and don’t date, watch TV, play video games or engage in social media during their mission. Their beliefs affect their lifestyle.

They live differently than the culture that surrounds them and when I was around them I felt like they were different. There was an innocence and purity that was appealing. We as Christians should live differently. That seems to be something we have lost. We have forgotten that genuine Salvation includes justification and sanctification. Considering our current culture, it is truly rare to see people put their beliefs ahead of their desires and choose to pursue sanctification and live a wholesome life that the Scripture calls us to. I actually felt encouraged by their commitment to a wholesome standard of living. It was an unexpected breath of fresh air.

Ephesians 4:22-24- “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

This blog is not intended to be a theological explanation of salvation, the relationship between faith and works, or the differences between religions. That will be another day and another blog 🙂 This is just a story about how an unexpected encounter reminded me that while we live in the world we are not to be like the world. I hope this encourages and challenges us to consider if our lives are actually different than the culture and a pleasing sacrifice to God. The Bible actually has a lot to say about how we live our lives. We, as the church, need to step up and teach the Great Commission, that we are supposed to be disciples who obey God’s commands. (Matthew 28:19-20)

Ephesians 5:15 and 4:1- “Be careful how you live….live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”