“I don’t want to grow up. Actually, I don’t want to go to college. I just want to be an evangelist,” I told my mother.
“Mollie, you are going to grow up whether you like it or not. And yes,” Mom declared, “you are going to college!”
“How can I find a job where all I do for a living is make friends, and tell them about Jesus?”
“You’re going to college, Mollie,” Mom reiterated.
“But all I want to do is fish for people. Take them off the hook, and give them to Jesus.”
“That’s nice,” she insisted, “but you are still going to college.”
A couple weeks later, my wish came halfway true. With a happy grin I boarded an airplane to the Philippines. Shipping off to the other side of the globe, I handed my life over to be an evangelist for the next two weeks. Sadly, my ticket said “round trip,” which meant I had to return to the USA and go to (dreaded) college.
During my entire time in Asia, God spoke to me—and so did the people there. One conversation in particular was worth traveling across the world to experience. It happened unexpectedly as all of us evangelists were sitting around a table slurping up mangoes. (I was the most barbaric consumer.) A Filipino pastor ventured over and volunteered to inform us about what grinds his gears.
He started by describing how he had moved to America for pastoral work. (He was back visiting his family in the Philippines.) His talk became heated when he asked us:
“Do you know why churches in America are dying?”
Puzzled, we all looked puzzled at each other, not having an answer.
“I’ll tell you why! I am an associate pastor in the States. I went to the head pastor one day and said, ‘Hey, we should get the church together to hand out Steps to Christ door to door.’ And do you know what he said to me? The head pastor said, ‘No no, we keep those on the shelf. If people want them, they can come and get them.”
He concluded: “American churches are dying because you expect people to come to you. You need to get out of your pews and go to the people.”
None of us had anything to say in response, because we knew he was right.
All too soon my evangelistic adventure was over. My heart stayed in the Philippines while my body came home. I returned with heavier luggage—the burden to do mission work in the United States. I looked for every opportunity for evangelism here. I thought, I want to fish for people in AMERICA. How do I do that? Where?
I looked up, down and sideways but my mom blocked each dynamite plan. She kept telling me: “You need to go to Union. Go for at least your first year, Mollie.”
I smiled, because I knew God was on my side and would make my dream happen, even if Mom said no.
One month later, I stood solemnly on registration day at Union College. I guess this was God’s plan for me? I didn’t understand why He would send me to normal school, when I offered myself to Him as an evangelist!
God and I had long talks about how His plans were not matching up with mine. Finally, He snapped me out of my grumbling by sending me a lady and her story.
The woman told me about a time when she couldn’t hear from God about where she was supposed to go in life. “At that moment of confusion,” she recalled, “God said to me: ‘I don’t care where you go—just take me with you.’”
I nodded my head slowly and agreed to God, “Okay. You and me at Union College.”
Throughout my time at Union, God has given me multiple opportunities to work for Him. Though I felt forced to go to college when I sincerely wanted to do evangelism, God taught me a valuable lesson: I can fish just about anywhere. I thought I had narrowed the horizon enough by telling Him I wanted to do evangelism in the United States. But He narrowed it even more to the point by impressing me, “Whether it is Union College, a grocery store, the laundromat, the airplane, or the ski lift, you can fish for people.”
My burden became the United States, and my mission is to fish everywhere I go—as long as I take Jesus with me.
Guest author Mollie Cummings is a junior religious education major at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska.