Tennis to translation
By Belinda Fox | Wycliffe Today Winter 2023 |
‘God doesn’t want your money. He wants you!’
It was as though God was speaking directly to me when the preacher spoke those words at my church’s missions conference in 2007. I thought that, by giving financially, I had done what he was asking me to do. But that night in my heart I told God, ‘I don’t know when, where, how or why, but if you want me to serve you, I will’.
One year later, I was chatting with my mixed doubles tennis opponent in between matches. The topic of linguistics (my university major) came up and I learned that he used to be a Wycliffe Australia member involved with Bible translation in Africa. I hadn’t heard of Wycliffe before but I knew that God was behind this encounter. Less than a week later, I had an appointment to meet with Jenny Austin, Wycliffe Australia’s Assignments Coordinator!
My journey since then has not followed the typical route. I got to the field quickly and bypassed language school because I had already studied Indonesian at primary school, high school and university. I was assigned to a project in Papua (eastern Indonesia) largely because I had basic bookkeeping skills from my time as Treasurer of my tennis club! Through that role, God exposed me to a wide variety of ministry and cultural experiences, and to a people and place that won my heart.
I never expected or wanted to be a leader. It was hard enough to believe that God would use me as a cross-cultural worker; let alone a leader! But I knew he was asking me to take on the leadership of the Papuan Malay team in 2017 and that he would equip and teach me as I went. It wasn’t easy and many times I felt I had failed miserably. But when I was forced to take a step back, God stepped in and brought that team to where they are today: thriving, passionate and driven by a sense of genuine ownership of the work God has entrusted them with.
As God was strengthening and growing the Papuan Malay team, he was also working on renewing me through a season of recovery from burnout. With a slight twist on the words he used to call me to ministry all those years ago, he spoke to me again: ‘I don’t need your service. I want you’. I spent a year just enjoying his presence and learning that anything I do for him can only bear fruit if it comes from my being with him (John 15:5).
That is the truth I hope to impart to others, and discover to greater depths for myself, through my new role as Wycliffe Australia Personnel Manager. This is yet another unexpected fork in the road that God is leading me along step by step. I could never have written a story like the one he is writing for me!