My good friend Marianne Badongen was kind enough to write a guest post for us today!
Marianne is a Missionary in The Philippines. She’s the wife of Roy and mother to two of the most beautiful, best behaved children I’ve ever met (I’m not kidding). I had the honor of traveling the 2,000+ miles to be in her wedding. Marianne has done and is doing some great work on the Mission field. I’m so proud of her! But I’ll let her tell you more…
I do not know why it is called “the call.” It makes it sound so immediately answerable, so understandable, so audible, and so obvious. How I wish it were really that easy! I would not have made so many mistakes had it been any of those things.
I have been living in the Philippines now for 11 years as a missionary. Many people ask when I received “the call” of God. I usually tell people I do not consider it a “call.” My experience was more like a gradual leading.
I grew up in a Christian family. We attended church every Sunday. I could quote all the popular Scriptures and sing the Sunday school songs. I got stickers for attendance, memory verses, bringing my Bible, and anything else you could do to receive stickers.
When I was not at school or church, I was teaching a collection of stuffed animals. I never really considered any career other than teaching.
As in everyone’s life, a time came when I had to decide if I was living my parents’ faith or my own. I had to decide for myself if I believed in God, His Son, His salvation, His Spirit, and His Word.
During the summer between 7th and 8th grades, I spent a week at church camp. The speakers, teachers, group leaders, and staff demonstrated a living faith that I desired to have. The following October, I accepted the grace of God through Christ’s death on the cross and was baptized to receive forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Faith was now my choice and I began to live it (with mistakes of course).
I spent the next few years filling my time with Christian activities like Bible Bowl, youth group, service projects, and as much church camp as I could. Deans of camp knew they could count on me to be a team leader, dorm mom, and teacher. As a camper and as a faculty member, I learned so much about God and living a Christian life.
At church camp, I met many missionaries for whom the campers were giving their offerings. Commitment, love, courage, faithfulness, and inspiration poured out of these servants of God. I was more than inspired. God was using His Word and these servants to lead me in the direction of missions.
Missions became my passion. I spent three weeks in Mexico between high school graduation and college. This trip solidified my commitment to pursue missions.
Great Lakes Christian College was the next step on this journey of faith. If my years at church and summers at camp gave me a mountain of knowledge, college was like building the Sierra Madres.
At this point, you might be thinking that my faith and determination were without wavering, discouragement, fear, and questioning. Let me assure you that idea is far from true. I had love, faith, knowledge, determination, and supportive family and friends; however, what I lacked caused me to compromise God’s will for me more than once. I lacked self-esteem. I did not see myself as God saw me; I chose to dwell on my physical imperfections rather than walk in confidence as a child of God. (I chose to listen to Satan’s lies in this area. I was not forced into this thinking. This foothold I gave Satan nearly cost me the contentment of knowing I was doing God’s will for me.)
Strong pressure to get married was everywhere at Bible college. Summers were filled with student weddings. Relationships entered conversations in the cafeteria, dorms, hallways, offices, and even classrooms. It was hard not to be in a relationship.
I never had a boyfriend in high school. I was new to the area of relationships. My lack of self-esteem combined with the newness of relationships was a bad combination for me. I took the first offer of a relationship. When that ended quickly, I accepted another. I thought my self-esteem issues would be solved by a good relationship. (I now realize the only solution for that is in the realization of God’s unconditional love.)
When someone asked me to marry him, I accepted the offer. He told me numerous times that he would never leave the country. Why would a person so driven in the area of missions accept an offer of marriage from someone who had no intention of leaving the country? Fear of rejecting a marriage offer that may never come again. (Please understand I did like him a lot and he was a very good man; he just was not God’s plan for me.)
While suffering a severe depression, one of my professors and his wife helped me realize the cause was living outside God’s will. The obvious solutions were a painful breakup and a hard resignation from children’s ministry (a ministry I accepted when I realized missions was no longer an option if I married him).
I expected to feel worse after the breakup and resignation, but I actually felt rejuvenated. I was finally back to living God’s will for me. I wish I could say that I was never tempted in the same again. It took me a few more years to fully develop a God-centered self-esteem rather than a physical appearance –centered self-esteem.
A few months later, I began researching mission opportunities. The requests for missionaries were numerous; however, one appealed to me more than others. A Bible college in the Philippines needed an English teacher. This was a chance to combine my passions of teaching and missions.
11 years later, I am still a missionary; I am married to a man who has the same passion for missions; and I teach our children at home.
I am not exposing myself on this personal level so you will marvel at me. I pray for you to see yourself as God sees you. I pray you have the strength and courage to know God’s will for you and follow. In this, you will find contentment.
If you or your church is interested in supporting the missionary work that Marianne and her husband do, please leave a comment! I’d love to connect her with people who will financially support the work they are doing!
WHat a refreshing insight into God’s will. We’re actually talking about this with our small group right now and over and over our students want us to tell them “how to know” like it’s all clear cut we keep saying that’s not typically how God leads (with an audible voice) but He leads nonetheless.