#36: Accents and Anvils

#36: Accents and Anvils

It was April 1997, and I was attending a Tuesday night singles’ Bible study called 7:22 that was led by Louie Giglio. Louie is nothing if not motivational, and God was opening a new chapter in my life – one in which I was becoming aware of Him, His work in me and around the world, and the fact that polyester leisure suits are not, in fact, required attire for missionaries.

It was a whole new world.

I can still remember the night that spring when I sat in the pew at Dunwoody Baptist Church, where 7:22 met at the time, and prayed, listening for God’s invitation to go. Where, you ask? Wherever. I didn’t know. And I listened and listened, leaning in closer to my invisible God and heard… well, nothing.


So I went home. And the next day found me driving down to see my parents two hours away. I was listening to the radio, and a special came on talking about a mission opportunity to Russia to minister to orphans. And I knew. I knew it in the way you know a good melon. I just knew.

One of the things about God that amazes me most is His ability to work with what we have. He can and likely will use any number of threads to create the work He has in mind. In this case, He used a fascination I had long had with Russia to introduce me to the world of missions.

I grew up in a time when the USSR was the mysterious, intriguing arch-enemy of my homeland. In my mind, it was all fur hats and no blue jeans and Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake playing in the background while beautiful people with high cheekbones spoke in hushed tones. Think Michelle Pfeiffer in “The Russia House”.

It was cold, too, and I was in love with the idea of cold. Growing up in the hot and humid South, where your glasses fog up the moment you step outside on summer days, I’d always told my family I wanted to move up north where it snowed and I could wear big hats. Russia was all of that, I was sure. So although at the time, the thought of flying (for the first time ever!) to Russia was about as far-flung an idea as I could imagine, in hindsight, it makes perfect sense. God uses everything, and He was using an interest He had placed in my heart years before to get me moving.

That trip to Russia eventually led to two more, and then followed a period of trips to Bolivia, deep in the heart of South America.  Two years in Romania followed that, with each country, each culture leaving a mark on my heart.

I look at that heart now, marked as it is, and see how it has been molded by the people, the places and the experiences I’ve had overseas. And it has been, I think, softened along the way.

I recently found myself engaged in conversation with a woman from Central Europe and was surprised by how much joy and compassion I felt in talking with her.  It’s the same feeling I have for the Iranian woman in my weekly English as a Second Language (ESL) class who only arrived in America three months ago.

It’s a love I can’t explain, except to say that it’s not coming from me.  I know God has placed it there, bit by bit, on a journey that has now spanned three continents.

You see, when I prayed that night at 7:22, I thought I was praying for God to send me out to do His will.  And well, I guess I was.  But what I didn’t realize at the time is that His will is for my heart to be broken and molded on an anvil to look like His. In my case, He has just used foreign soil and people with accents to do it.

And I hope and pray He never stops.

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