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Why I Went – Dan, now in Japan

Why I Went – Dan, now in Japan

Note: This is part of a series entitled “Why I Went.” I am asking people who cashed in the American Dream for a much bigger dream of sacrificial service in the Great Commission. This week I bring you the story of one of an engineer who is now working in Japan…

Five years ago wouldn’t have traded my lifestyle or career with anyone I knew. I managed the operation of a Lockheed L-1011 jet that is specially modified to launch rockets carrying small satellites into orbit. After work and on weekends I worked as a flight instructor, and several times each month flew as co-pilot on a business jet to destinations throughout the Pacific Northwest. It was a life of independence, challenge and excitement, and life was good. Church life kept me busy, too. For ten years my wife and I had championed the cause of missions at our local church, urging folks to pray, give, or go, as God would lead. My salary continued to climb, and the job assignments and flight experience continued to get more interesting.

One day I stumbled across II Timothy 2:3 in my Bible reading: “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” While this verse has been misinterpreted as commanding an ascetic or otherwise miserable life, I had to admit that my life at that time was playing out near the other extreme, handily avoiding any hardship on behalf of the gospel. I came to the conclusion that, at least in my case, there was dissonance between my comfortable existence and the dying to self that God’s people are called to in Scripture, which Ralph Winter calls a “wartime lifestyle.” That very day, I made the decision before God to pursue a lifestyle that clearly put Him first.

My childhood overseas acquainted me from the beginning with the work of missions. Attending the IVCF Urbana missions conference (I carry in my Bible the decision card I filled out back in 1984), taking a course titled Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, and going on a short term missions trip added perspective to my early memories, and acquainted me with God’s Big Plan. I began to understand that the Great Commission is not just for missionaries; it summarizes the task of the whole Church until Christ returns! Other passages tell us the details of what the Church is to be; how we are to relate to others; how we ought to serve and worship God; but, our overall task is to “make disciples.” The scope of this task extends to “all nations,” and we are to be about this task until “the end of the age.” So, now I had not only a commitment to pursue a wartime lifestyle, but now also a clear job description to go with it.

The clincher came through a third passage, the twin parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl of Great Price found in Matthew 13. I realized that whatever good things I was enjoying, while not inherently wrong in any way, could not begin to compare with the rewards that I could enjoy by committing my life to pursuing exactly what Jesus had commanded His church to be about! Jesus made it clear that the good things of the Kingdom of Heaven could be obtained only through a thorough exchange of priorities.

Note that I have said nothing about being drawn to Japan. I never was “drawn” here. There is nothing here that naturally attracts me. I am motivated by the conviction that God really does mean for the Church to go to the ends of the earth to make disciples. I want to spend my life in obedience to the last command issued before the Lord was taken up into Heaven. I am not a big or important person, but I desperately want to tie my life into something big and important. I found out what that is, and through God’s grace and providence, hope to plant churches in the sometimes thorny ground of Japan.

I wouldn’t trade my lifestyle or career with anyone I know.

Rob Farnsley – Why I Went

Rob Farnsley – Why I Went

Note: I am introducing a new series entitled “Why I Went.” I am asking people who cashed in the American Dream for a much bigger dream of sacrificial service in the Great Commission. This week I bring you the story of one of my best friends (at least in the other hemisphere – he says I can’t be his best friend in this one), Rob Farnsley. Rob was an apostle to the Bosnians and now works as a mobilizer in the USA.

Looking back over the last 17 years, it is a bit more difficult to remember why I left my life in Fresno, California to join the missionary endeavor. But the first thing I will say is that I DO NOT REGRET IT AND I AM NOT SORRY!

I was in my mid-40’s, very involved as a layman in my church. I was fulfilled and happy and productive, discipling several men and enjoying my real estate career. But still there was something stirring. I had an opportunity to travel with a retired missionary to his former field of service in Western Borneo. He had gone in the 30’s and literally been the first “white man” in those jungles filled with head hunters. 50 years later, we saw the results of his labor. Churches in many remote villages, reaching out to others, and lots of missionaries carrying on the work. They all knew “Opa.”

I did not have a high opinion of missionaries in those days. But my time in Borneo changed all that. I returned with a huge respect for them and their work. Such qualified and dedicated people. That led to my starting a mission committee in my church, which led to my attending a course called “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement,” where I began to learn about what God was doing in the world. I was amazed. This class had a huge impact on me and led me to want to be involved in the effort to reach those who have the least opportunity to hear the Good News, with whatever time I had left in my life.

So, at age 45, still single, I liquidated all my “stuff,” and off I went. That journey has led me through Indonesia, Virginia, Orlando, Bosnia, Canada, back to Bosnia, and now to Orlando. I have had the privilege of working with and serving some of the best people in the world. I have seen so much of the world that I never thought I would see. My singleness has worked to my advantage in many cases, and probably didn’t help in others. But, I am who I am and as mentioned above I DO NOT REGRET AND AM NOT SORRY I have taken this “road less traveled.” There could not be a better road.