Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Decisions (some random thoughts)

Wow, it's nearly March already! And although it's likely I won't be leaving here until late July, the clock is ticking -- the clock counting down how much time I've got to figure out what I'm going to do next, that is. As I see it I've got four too many options: (1) spend another year here in Istanbul; (2a) intern at Michigan State for a year; (2b) intern in Freiburg, Germany; (3a) teach chemistry and physics at International Gateway Academy here in Istanbul; (3b) try to find a teaching job back in Michigan, preferably in the greater Lansing or Grand Rapids areas.

Sometimes I almost envy my Turkish friends nearing graduation. Their one-sided educations and poor local economy pretty much pare down their job options: miraculously get a job in your field (which was determined by a standardized test), or do some useless, menial job working for one of your distant family members. Whatever happened to the days when I would simply inherit my father's trade of building barrels or shoeing horses?

(1) Giving Turkish people a viable opportunity to learn about Jesus Christ is important--and fun. And really, I can't escape the biblical passages about "frontier missions". I do enjoy a lot of the students I meet here, and I really will miss my friend Hamdi. But there's always a dissonance between what I'm doing and what I feel like I should be doing with myself. I can't pinpoint it, but being a worker in Turkey just doesn't seem 'right' for me, whatever that's supposed to mean.

(2) Part of my wishes, should I continue in some sort of full-time, vocational ministry is that I be able to share Christ through God's Word with believers, preferably younger ones (as if I'm actually mature myself). I really enjoyed doing that my senior year in Wilson Hall at MSU and last year with international students. Being at MSU would allow this and a fuller picture of ministry experiences, but for some reason Freiburg popped into my head as well. I really like Germany, and I'm confident I could re-learn German pretty quickly.

(3) Every now and then I find my thoughts back in the miry realm of education. I really did enjoy teaching last year, as incredibly time-consuming and challenging as it was. If I do teach, I'd greatly prefer the realm of high school biology (and maybe a little chem, too). The thought about teaching in Turkey is rather daunting, because I'd be teaching a new subject (physics) with no one else to fall back on.

I think that right now I'm leaning toward teaching next year, but that may prove to be extremely difficult if I don't get back into the States until late July or early August. I sometimes find myself erroneously thinking that it's workers in the "10/40 window" who take the gospel the most seriously, and that I can't justify teaching or some vocational ministry in the States while there are still 70 million Turks who haven't heard the truth about Jesus and grace. But Paul writes, "Whatever you do . . . you are serving the Lord Christ" (Colossians 3:23, 24). Yeah, I cut some stuff out between those phrases, but this is how the grammar flows.

But sometimes a small voice in my head tells me to spend time learning to live as someone serious about the gospel in the ordinary, mundane realm of living and teaching in Michigan.* It's easier for me to take sharing the gospel more seriously while living "on the edge" here in Turkey, but do I know what it means to be a witness of the kingship (basileia) of God when my sole occupation isn't to share the gospel? And if the Holy Spirit is to redeem all of the world one day, what does it look like to have redeemed public education? Or is that out of the scope of his present work? No! Wow, I feel like I should go unearth the tomes written by Calvin and Luther (and Gene Vieth, perhaps -- anybody?) on glorifying God with all of our callings in life: father and friend, pastor and pupil, janitor and butcher.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Of worthy but rather unrelated note, Pastor Kevin at URC, preaching about Onesimus the slave's return to Colosse ("Tychicus, Onesimus, and Undying Love", Ephesians 6:21-24), said that to show a real change in life you have to show it where it counts most: in the relationships and environment of home.


halfmom said...

Think about presenting the Gospel as something that happens in steps rather than as a "chunk" with the presentation of the "4 laws" - preparing the soil, planting, cultivating... lots of steps before there's a harvest. I think that a lot of believing teachers are soil preparers - we encourage them that somebody cares, that we think they can think, can learn, can be something they may only dream about - if they're brave enough to even dream. All of that contributes - is foundational even. Remember we're all part of one functional body and if you don't do your part and do it well, the body won't work as it should. How your contribution is making a difference may not always be immediately visible, but I think that's why they call it faith. Do what He has gifted you to do, what you hear whispered in your ear. Teach something, somewhere, somehow and all the opportunities you need to present the gospel will present themselves by the power of His Spirit.

Ryan P.T. said...


Priority 1a: get out of Crusade.

After that, figure out what you're best at and use those skills to glorify God. Yeah, Veith is sweet. He loves talking about vocation. Actually, all Lutherans love talking about it. I think you should return to teaching, but whatever you do, don't feel guilty. Christ didn't redeem you so you could feel guilty.

Drew said...

Thanks for the input so far. (1) I'm the anti-Crusade poster boy, since I never use the "Would You Like to Know God Personally" booklets (which are pretty useless here in Turkey anyway) or that confusing Holy Spirit booklet. Worse yet, I actually adhere to Sola Gratia and Sola Fide! (What?! You don't have to say a "sinner's prayer"?) (2) I don't feel guilty at all about leaving Turkey. I simply believe it really is super important that American Christians be actively involved in work in Muslim nations.

halfmom said...

Sola Gratia and Sola Fide! (What?! You don't have to say a "sinner's prayer"?)

Explain please - I'm too tired to google it and look it up - too many hours in the lab.

Boyd said...


I think that you'll find that living in the states living radically for Christ while working as a teacher is pretty awesome. I think it would be awesome to go back to Turkey, but maybe God is calling you to love on some middle or high school aged folk. Hope all is well!