Tuesday, 3 February 2009

I just made a life-changing decision

I love my job. Since May 2006, I have been working as a translator at the German central bank (Deutsche Bundesbank). This involves translating a wide variety of articles, letters, speeches, website material, Powerpoint presentations, regulations etc. from the various departments of the bank. Once I even translated a letter to someone in America who had just won the Nobel Prize in Economics. Sometimes there is more work, sometimes less, but in general it is pretty relaxed. I get a decent salary, plenty of holidays, flexi time, and have had several opportunities of travelling abroad for training. And I have great colleagues I get on very well with. So I am very happy with my job and very thankful for it. And I love the fact that my workplace is only a 30 minute drive from where I live and grew up.

However, this morning I handed in my notice and will leave my job in the summer. So why would I do that?

My reason for doing so will no doubt strike some of you as crazy...

I want to be trained to live and work among a people group that has yet to hear the good news of Jesus Christ that we read about in God's Word, the Bible. There are still many people groups that do not have God's Word in their own language and have never heard about Jesus and the love and peace and joy that He offers to the whole world. They need somebody ready to leave his home and family and friends and go live in a remote location among them, without the financial security and many of the modern conveniences we have to make our lives easier. This person would have to establish a friendship with them, learn their culture and language, devise an alphabet and dictionary and teach them read and write their own language (if it is an unwritten language), translate the Bible into their language, teach them the Bible and share the love of Christ with them.

That is what I want to do by God's grace and with His help (alongside a team of others). In September, I will therefore start studying at a Bible school n England.

It's a scary step for me to take, because I always want to make sure everything is safe and secure before I do something. But this time, I do not really know what exactly awaits me.

With these thoughts in my mind this morning, when I was sitting in the train on my way to work with fearful thoughts about resigning from my job, God gave me the following verse:

Do not be afraid ... for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. (Jeremiah 1:8)

These are the words that God spoke to Jeremiah when He called him to be a prophet to the nations and Jeremiah's initial reaction was "Who? Me?!? Who am I?" Reading this verse today brought tears to my eyes because I know how Jeremiah must have felt and I was reminded about how good God is to His children.

The older I get, the more I realise how short my life is. I'm here today and gone tomorrow. I don't want to waste it by living just for myself and my own pleasures when there is a world in need of God's love and forgiveness. I have experienced this love of God and I want to pass it on, trying to follow in the footsteps of Christ and live for Him. I believe that a life that is committed to Christ - even if accompanied by poverty, hardships and pain - is so much better and worth much more than anything this world has to offer. And I fully believe the words of Jesus when He said:

He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. (Matthew 10:39)

And if you are one of those who still think I am crazy, or if you are not sure, please talk to me. =)


Flyboy said...

We will be praying for your transition! God Bless! Richard

Angela said...

Hi Michael,
I am impressed at the magnitude of the step you have taken today, both in handing in your notice and in choosing to undertake what will no doubt be a rewarding task but also a very challenging one. I envy you your conviction and faith and wish you all the very best for the path you have ahead of you. Keep us posted :)

Ann Garci said...

Crazy for Jesus, no doubt. I think that is terrific. God will anoint you Luke 24:49 Clothed with the Holy Spirit and Mark 16:14-20 In his name if we drink poison it will not harm us. Michael you are clothed with the holy spirit and are doing all things in the name of Jesus, he will protect you and keep you until your race is finished. I too just took Gods job over mans job. Its a scary step but faith will be increased. You can trust God to meet your every need and what God has called you to, he will equip you and see you through it. Thank you for being obedient to Gods call on your life.

Anonymous said...

Hi Michael, I have kept your post in my feedreader for ages to remember commenting. For my part I don't think at all that you are crazy ;-) ... I totally admire your courage and your desire to carry God's word. I have been working at Wycliffe one Summer when I was 17 and have followed the ways of some families who did just the job you are now going to start with. It is a huge task and very challenging, but it is also a step into a 'world of miracles'. God's blessings for your way and I hope you will go on blogging about this. If not, I'd love to be added to a newsletter, if you should plan sending one.
I wish you a lot of strenght and support for the coming months and all the changes.

Ariane said...

Dear Michael

Let's hope this journey of your life will make you wiser although I have no sympathy for your goals. I would wish you would leave those cultures who have been happy with out indoctrination for generations alone and be.

Sorry, it just makes me physically sick and sad and I wish so much I could persuade you to not go out and destroy cultures, but rather help preserve them. I know you think your religion and your way of life is the only right one ... and that might be right for you, but there is just no need to force your believe (making them listen to and read the Bible is just that)onto innocent people.

However since you are interested in less explored languages (an interest I fully support), you might want to read this book of a missionary who went to live with the Piraha an Amazon tribe and studied their language:


Wish you all the best and hope that somehow you will see clear before you participate in cultural elimination.


Michael said...

Hi Ariane,

Thank you for your honest opinion and the book recommendation. I don't expect many people to understand or even support my decision.

But let me assure you this has got nothing to do with destroying cultures and forcing beliefs on anyone. I don't know how anyone could seriously even think that it is possible to force beliefs on someone else, let alone attempt to do so. The tribal missionaries I know have only gone to locations where they have been invited.

A Bible translation in a tribal language helps strengthen the culture and the use of the tribal language as such languages often do not have a written form. It gives the tribal group a greater sense of identity as the people also learn to read and write their own language for the first time, and write their own literature, stories, songs etc. Missionaries also provide medical care and treatment to help alleviate various forms of suffering. Quite contrary to destroying a culture, Bible translation and missionary work have been key in preserving tribal groups' languages and identities.

I would not say that my "religion" or my "way of life" is the only right one, because I do not believe that following any religion or way of life is the solution. What I believe in is Jesus Christ, and that His words are true when He says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me" (John 14:6). And I want other people to know who Christ is and what He has done for us. Religion are man-made rules which say, "Do this and this and this and then maybe God will accept you." Christ says, "I have done it all for you, just trust in Me." According to God's Word, Jesus is the only way of salvation. People are still free to reject this message, but everybody deserves at least the chance to hear it and to decide for themselves.


Scott Pickering said...

I love you, brother. Aslan is on the move, and I love to watch Him work! I just prayed for you!

mklontz said...

Great post, Michael, AND your response to others. Your testimony and example will be an encouragement and strength for others, and I'm praying that God will provide ALL you need, including financial support, as you take this step of faith and follow through with your commitment! It was a privilege to serve with you on the same team down in Mexico last year, and your life and testimony is surely what encouraged a couple others on the team to head this summer down to Interface in PNG! PTL!
Your bro,

ko said...

May God bless as you prepare to serve Him in this new role! I'm very excited for you. Please stay in touch.

Kevin Oberlin

Ps. A possible read for Ariane, et. al: http://www.talesofasia.com/cambodia-ratanakiri-mission.htm.

John Hamilton said...

Every blessing, Michael, as you follow the Lord's leading! How many years ago was it that we first met on the Wycliffe STEP programme in Anduze, S. France..? The Lord's timing is perfect. God bless, John

bridget said...

Hie Michael

You have actually made the right decision and the Lord is always with thee.lsaiah 49:15 keeps me strong too and l know it applies to u at this moment.Never are u crazy but u are rewarded for your Faith.If u are feeling shakened read Hebrews 11 and see what good courageous step u made.l envy your decision and am happy for u are going to bring souls to our Lord.I will be with u in prayers too and would like to hear more from u in this journey.
Stay Blessed


Hi Michael

You are taken very good step and it will give fruit ful results with..

You have prayer support of many people and God's hand..

Go a head.. GOd will be with you.