When Going is Your First “Real Job” {An interview}

I (Amy) met Jenny two summers ago when she was an intern. My role was to meet with the interns one to two hours a week. During that time we would debrief some of the realities of ministry and build skills into them. She dedicated last summer as an intern and we got to spend intentional time together. In December Jenny called me to talk about her options with graduation—all of which involved serving overseas. 

As we editors mapped out this series we loved every post we’ve included, but notice a gaping hole: young single women! We didn’t want to only hear from moms or people a bit further down the path. Jenny as agreed to share a bit of her story with us today as she shares from the perspective of a recent college grad preparing to go to the field for the first time.

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Jenny, thank you taking time in the midst of getting ready to share with us. Can you tell us a little about yourself, where you’ll be going, and what you’ll be doing?

I graduated in May from Colorado Christian University with a degree in Elementary Education, and I now have the awesome opportunity to use my passions and gifts overseas teaching TCKs (the children of my teammates). I’ll be allowing the parents to focus on their callings.

How did SE Asia get on your radar? Could you share a bit about your call?

It first got on my radar after I became friends with a woman who grew up and lived in the northern part. We met the summer after my freshman year of college while she was finishing her graduate degree in the states. As I got to know her and she shared her stories of the really hard things that happen but how God shows up in amazing ways in those hard circumstances, my heart was touched in a significant way. I prayed and reflected on her stories, and God told me very clearly that someday I would go there.

Throughout the rest of my college years, God would bring the area to my mind, and I continued to pray about my future there. My senior year of college, my friend was back in the States again. She asked me what I was going to do with my life after I graduated and instead of my practiced response of “Uhhh…… I am not sure,” I heard myself asking if I could teach at the schools that were a part of her ministry. She responded enthusiastically, saying that they definitely needed teachers, and I wondered what in the world I had gotten myself into. I continued to pray about this possibility, and God revealed to me that I would not be going to SE Asia someday, but this year.

Around this time, I struggled with this call that God had placed on my life. I listed so many reasons why I should not go and why I did not want to go. Meanwhile, I continued looking into other possibilities for teaching abroad. I connected with an organization that would enable me to teach abroad and scheduled a Skype call to discuss possible teaching placements. As my coach explained the details of placements in the Philippines, Czech Republic, and England, I became excited about each of those possibilities, but the thought of SE Asia gnawed at the back of my mind. Near the end of our call, I asked about a teaching position in SE Asia. The biggest God-moment in my whole life occurred when my coach said that the position in SE Asia was in the same city that my friend lives and works. At that point, there was no resisting God anymore: I committed to teaching and ministering in SE Asia.

Being single and a recent college grad who loves Jesus, what makes it “easy” to go to India?

During this time of transition from college to the “real world,” I do not have an established career or romantic relational ties. This natural shift in my life makes it easier to decide on moving overseas, because, hey, I am going to do something new anyway!

For you, what are some of the “challenges” of going now?

A major challenge is the realization that I will miss important life events while I am on the other side of the world: births, deaths, and weddings. I will not be able to hold a precious newborn, comfort grieving friends with a hug, or be in the bridal party of best friends. Just as this is a time of transition for me, it is a time of transition for many friends and classmates as they will make important decisions of their own, and I will not be physically present during those times. That’s hard.

How do you hope to see God at work in the next few years?

I hope the children that I teach will learn that education is the key for opening many doors, and that even if they learn everything there is to learn, they will have nothing if they do not have Christ. I hope that my teammates are encouraged by my presence daily. I hope that everyone I interact with and share life with feels the overwhelming peace and love of Christ through me. I hope that God will challenge and refine me through what will undoubtedly be a difficult few years so that, at the end, I am even more capable and equipped to share the Gospel. Most of all, I hope that I am able to see lives transformed by the saving power of Christ and experience the furtherance of His kingdom here on this earth.

We love to be real at VA, where might disappointment hide as you get ready to go? 

During this time of support raising before I move to the field, I am faced with some of my deepest fears. I fear rejection: that when I explain my vision to others, they will not understand and they will reject my ministry. I also fear judgment from others: that they will judge me and think I am just asking them for money because I cannot make money on my own. Some of these fears have come true in my support appointments and have led to days filled with disappointment. Yet, in the midst of that, I have also been overwhelmed with encouragement and wisdom from family and friends. During the times of disappointment, I choose to turn my eyes up to the One who has given me this call and is the ultimate Comforter.

Jenny, how can we welcome and pray for you in our VA community?

My main prayer request during this time is that God will quickly complete my support team so I can get to my assignment. I also need prayer warriors to pray that in this time of preparation, I more deeply rely on the Lord and continually put on the full armor of God as I enter the spiritual warzone of SE Asia. I am so thankful for the blessing of being a part of the global body of Christ, especially the VA community!

4 Comments

  1. Jaime August 10, 2016

    Hello J from another J!!

    I am also a young single on the field, and your story sounds a lot like mine, except that until 3 months before I left for SEAsia I didn’t really have any intention of moving overseas. Like you, I’ve found one of the greatest gifts of this time of life is that I’m not tied down to any careers or romantic relationships. In fact, I recently moved within country from the city to a rural area which was made both easier and more difficult by the fact that I am single. And I totally get it when you say that it is hard to miss the milestones in your friends lives, but you will make many new friends and get to be there for their milestones!

    I would love to hear more about your journey and pray that everything will be provided so that you can join your field ASAP!

  2. Phyllis August 11, 2016

    I enjoyed this! Thank you for sharing.

    While I didn’t go single, we did go newly married and fresh out of Bible school. Lately, I’ve been noticing that our experience is really different from those who come a little later in life.. I don’t envy those who were settled as adults (and maybe as families) in one culture and then had to uproot and start over in another. Obviously, I faced culture shock and adjustment, too, but it’s different, because this culture is really the only one that I’ve been an adult in.

    There is one area where I really see that “the other group” (those for whom this isn’t their first job) has an advantage: because they had time to get established, they might be more financially stable than we are. They had savings, or a house, or some assets.

    1. Jenn August 11, 2016

      We came to the field later in life (“second career”) with children (10, 9, 7, and 4 at the time). We CERTAINLY did not have assets back in the States. We sold everything to get started and used our savings to get here. My husband worked as a public health nurse for our city, and we were a single-income family. I think he still has about $3 in his pension account.
      We did find it to be to our advantage to have lived life in the States. Many of the younger people, for whom this is their first job or time out of school, don’t seem to realize that you can do your ‘job’, care for your family, participate in ministry, and follow the Lord. And that months of ‘vacation’ is not normal. And that a work day is more than 4 hours…
      But your analysis of uprooting is so accurate. We did not plan on this life change. As I recounting how the Lord led us overseas to someone last week, she said she was surprised we obeyed because we were ‘grounded and ministering’ where we were. We moved to a big city, a different language, and very different family patterns, and it has been challenging.

  3. Hannah August 17, 2016

    Sounds so similar to my story! I’m 23, single, and living in Sierra Leone Africa nannying and homeschooling overseas workers’ children while their parents translate the Bible. This article hit spot on discussing the things that are missed and the challenges.

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