In the world of missions and ministry, it is not entirely uncommon for someone to start down the road to a certain destination, only to find themselves somewhere else. Many people begin raising support, talking to churches and gathering prayer warriors, but never end up where they first said they were going. Many times it’s not anything wrong, it’s just a different path. But so often the church and supporters don’t view this change in destination as a positive thing. It’s often seen as a failure.
I’d like to encourage anyone who has ever been in that situation that you’re not a failure. Or maybe you’re a supporter or on a missions committee that has seen someone move towards a destination but not ever make it. I’d like to encourage you to look to see what else God is doing in this situation. Of course there are exceptions but I’m writing to those who are truly seeking God’s face and His direction. Sometimes that direction changes or leads us where we weren’t planning to be.
Paul, who is arguably the greatest missionary of all time, even experienced changes in his initial plans. At the end of Romans we see him writing to the church, saying that he will visit on his way to Spain, he even asks for their financial support. However, we have no conclusive evidence that he ever made it to Spain. But no one I know thinks less of Paul because of this.
Between my years working in Papua New Guinea and arriving in Australia, I considered at least four other countries. I could have chosen any of those places to work. God could have directed my path elsewhere. I could still be single but God blessed me with a wonderful husband and directed us to Perth, Australia. In the future we might end up somewhere else entirely. But as long as we’re seeking God, He’s opening the doors, we’re praying for His wisdom and following that direction, we can be assured that we are where we should be. I am where I should be.
Even Paul might not have been able to complete his journey as intended. But like Paul, God directs us where He wants us. Be encouraged. Changes in direction are not always a sign of weakness. Changes in a destination are not always a failure.