Anticipation? :: Gospel Fellowship Association Missions


Josh Perkins
2:42 read

There I was, waiting my turn to ascend the platform. I had practiced countless times. From the safety of home, I could play perfectly without the slightest hesitation. But today I was cold and hot at the same time. My hands shook. I couldn’t remember a thing. Look at all those people! Something seemed stuck in my throat. Everyone started clapping. I looked at the program again—almost my turn!

We all know this feeling. Perhaps a job interview, game night, test, surgery. Practice and preparation are easy, but at some point you actually have to do it. Of all the things I have prepared for, my departure for career missionary work is the biggest.

God started leading me toward Papua New Guinea (PNG) when I was in seventh grade. God laid a desire in my heart that resulted in a five-year missionary aviation major, nine years as an aircraft mechanic, years of carpentry training, a three-year ministry internship at my home church, ordination, short-term missions, two-and-a-half years of deputation, and countless other ministry and life skill experience opportunities. It has been 21 years since I was in seventh grade. Now I am awaiting the return of my visas so that I can purchase tickets to leave for PNG as a career missionary with my family. Almost there.

While the drudgery of preparation seemed endless, it was a place of relative comfort. In a few short weeks I will be moving a wife, five little children, and a mountain of luggage to the opposite side of the world through multiple countries with several different airlines. When we arrive, there will be a new language and culture to acquire. Our home will be an off-grid primitive setting with no immediate access to stores, public utilities, skilled labor, prebuilt structures, or sanitation. Hundreds of supporters stateside and curious nationals in PNG are watching. Will the Perkinses survive? Will they last more than one term? Will any good come from their efforts? My own anticipation is enough, but how do I deal with the anticipation of hundreds of others?

While the logistics are overwhelming, my greatest fears revolve around my family. How will my children respond? Their world is about to be turned upside down. They are not rooted in the years of conviction and preparation that I am. What terrifies me is that I may have to watch them suffer. How can I knowingly expose them to the violence, disease, and privation of an undeveloped world? Many missionaries have had to bury their children thousands of miles from family and loved ones. I may not be exempt from this possibility.

Not everything is concerning. The short-term work we did in PNG in 2017 was the most fulfilling experience we have ever had. Yes, thirteen months with two small children opened our eyes to reality and wore through the glamor. It also confirmed that this was what we are supposed to be doing. We loved it. Relationships were built that we are eager to continue. Worshipping God in a new language is a joy that is hard to describe. We saw God change us and those to whom we were ministering. God answered prayers in unimaginable ways. To see understanding dawn on a person’s face as you explain Bible truth is comparable to cresting a mountain peak. Speaking of mountain peaks, I miss the raw beauty of the tall rainforest-covered mountains. I miss going to bed when the sun goes down. I miss the coffee. I miss driving unrefined 4x4 trucks and having to fly on airplanes to get groceries. The awe of seeing God build His church in a foreign place is overwhelming. To be in such a context is to see the God of the Bible at work in real time. Fearful anticipation is mixed with joyful excitement.

As these emotions build while I wait, one thought sustains me. I am not pursuing ambition, adventure, or a lucrative career. I am going because I believe God has called me. When God calls, He also promises to come along. As was true of most of the Biblical examples of called servants, I have balked or tried to excuse myself. But building my life based on what I think my capabilities are, is to build my life based on me. This is unbelief. Unbelief puts trust in what you see or understand and not in God. Moses, Jonah, Gideon, Peter—all were unprepared or incapable. But God called and then went with each one and did what He said He would. My anticipation is tempered with the promise, “I am with you, even unto the end of the age.”  Waiting is tough, but the goal will come to pass. God is getting on that airplane with me. My hands are shaking. I am a little restless in my seat, but it is ok.