Gillian is a primary school teacher from Ballymena in Northern Ireland. She recently spent two years with Wycliffe as a full-time volunteer speaker and prayer advocate. She writes:
I like to have a plan, to know all the details, and to be organised. So when I was planning to take a career break, I was hoping for a clear roadmap. I wanted God to put a big neon sign in the sky telling me what I was to do.
However, that is not how God guides us. I have been learning to take one step at a time and to actually trust God to direct me. It was a first step of faith that led to a two-year journey with Wycliffe.
People suggested all sorts of things, the most common being ‘travel the world’ – but my steps led me a short trip down the road to an office in Belfast. It is hard to explain how that came about, but lots of little things came together and showed me a role that suited my interests and skills.
I believe in the importance of the work Wycliffe does, that all people should have access to God’s word in the language that speaks to them best – but I’m not a linguist or translator. However, it was such a joy to discover that there are many different ways to serve.
It is such a privilege to give others the opportunity to pray
Right from the first time meeting the team in the office and hearing about how I could get involved, everything just clicked. It has been great to use my love of writing to produce prayer devotionals that enable people to pray for the work, and I have learned and developed other skills through my role as prayer advocate.
Having the opportunity to research and write prayer journeys has taught me to pray specific prayers and see God give specific answers. Investing my time learning about different teams and communities has planted them deep in my heart. It is such a privilege to give others the opportunity to pray for them too, and I have been so encouraged, humbled and blessed to hear from passionate and committed prayer supporters around the UK.
Although my gifts leaned naturally towards writing, in my role I did a variety of things. One of these was to speak in churches on behalf of Wycliffe. I never imagined myself being suited to this task, but I am so thankful for the help and encouragement to do it. It is a genuine joy to gather with different congregations, to join them in worship, and to be able to inspire them with stories of how God is at work through Bible translation. Similarly, I got to meet lots of people at local events.
By connecting both with projects across the world and local Christians, I was really reminded about the global nature of God’s family. It is wonderful to realise that he has his people everywhere – and though separated by location or culture, we are all one in Christ.
Challenging – in a good way!
The notion of full-time volunteering and needing to rely on support didn’t frighten me as much as I thought it would. Even before I had started, there were people offering to support me, both prayerfully and financially. In moments when I doubted or worried, a phone call would come, or a line in a song would catch my ear and encourage me. God was guiding me in lots of quiet little ways.
Throughout those two years, people would ask how things were going, and I often replied, ‘Challenging, in a good way!’ It has been good to stretch myself and try new things, but it has also been good to have my faith stretched. Hearing about the various ways God is at work around the world, as well as working with a wonderful team with their own individual stories of faith, has enriched me greatly.
You only need to be willing and available
We sometimes think of God’s guidance as something out of the ordinary or spectacular, when the reality is that he is walking with us all the time and leading us step by step. We just need to be tuned in and listening.
Your journey will probably not be anything like mine, but if you are thinking of serving in some way, my advice is: take a step. You only need to be willing and available. When I was considering my plans and first applying for my career break, a useful question someone asked me was, ‘Why would you not do it?’
At the beginning of this journey I wanted to give my time and talents to God. I’ve discovered that God gives far more in return. Whether your journey takes you to the far side of the world, or just down the road, I have discovered that the delight is in being exactly where God wants you to be.
‘The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him.’ – Psalm 37:23 (NIV)
During her time with Wycliffe, Gillian wrote Life in the word, a resource for small groups. Click here to read and download it.