Today, I spent time with some amazing folks, doing one of the things I love most about my job. The staff that I work with is in the middle of what we call “Exploratory Conference.” I have the privilege, and I do consider it that, to hear people talk about and process their calling to missions. At one point in the process they come together, face to face, and tell their stories and share the discovery of their calling.
WOW, what a day! Today has been a full day of listening and processing. Each person that is participating in the process of exploring and discerning has told their faith story of coming to know Jesus and realizing their call to missions and ministry. It never fails. When I sit and listen to people tell their stories I connect on a level of emotion that I do not expect. Why don’t I remember to take my Kleenex with me to this session? Through each story I hear how churches, communities, families, and the Holy Spirit continue to work in lives of people who are open and ready to receive these blessings of calling. I hear stories that would be difficult to comprehend if I did not know personally the Spirit that is at work in each of these lives. It is often referred to as a “holy ground” kind of day.
Another interesting part of this day is how discernment works when people are willing to be open and honest. I am not talking just about the “candidates,” but also those of us who are tasked to work with these folks, to hear their stories and help discern the next steps for all of us. We are all challenged to listen, process, pray and wait . . . together. Those things can each be difficult alone, but when you put them together, you have to truly be ready to see the Holy Spirit at work.
This day ended with questions, confirmations, discoveries, re-directions, hopes, calmness, and a feeling that I have truly seen God at work. How grateful I am for this to be the way I get to spend this day in my life and ministry.
Grace Powell Freeman is director of Global Mission Operations with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Atlanta, Georgia.