How Everyday Life in the US is Preparing Me for Missions Overseas

A missionary intern shares how missional living in Waco, Texas is preparing her for life in Japan.

When I meet someone new, I usually start my introduction with “I have lived in 38 states” because people think it’s the most fascinating thing about me.

I grew up as a military brat. Then, shortly after my father retired from the Navy, my family sold everything, bought an RV, and we hit the road traveling for four years.

Between the ages of 13 and 18, I struggled with my faith, identity, and anything related to being a Christian. When we were traveling, we experienced a lot of different cultures, and I was exposed to a lot of different faiths and beliefs. I think my whole family struggled with who we were as Christians and how to handle our major life shifts as we moved every two weeks. It was hard to stay plugged in with a community, and just as we would get comfortable somewhere, we would leave.

When I turned 18, I settled in Waco, Texas. My family had already lived there for a year, and I decided I liked it enough to move out and be here on my own. I didn’t do this because I love Waco, but because for the first time in years I was involved with a church family. I had mentors pouring out their hearts to me and sharing the gospel in ways I had never heard before.

In 2019, two days before my 18th birthday, I gave my life back to Jesus. A few months later I was asked to serve the youth of my church. I felt very unprepared. I had less than the “basic Bible knowledge,” and I still felt very new to my faith. I wish I could go back and tell myself it would all be okay—that I had nothing to worry about. After all, God is bigger than me, and he knows exactly what he is doing in my life.

Eventually, I enrolled in an undergraduate program at a seminary. Soon, I sensed God burden me for international missions. When I was young, my heart yearned for Japan, and when I gave my life back to God, I thought maybe he had different plans now.

When old friends of mine reconnect with me, they are usually shocked to hear what I’m up to. They never expected me to be so involved in my faith, and most of them had no idea I was even a Christian. I always wonder how that news impacts people. I was such a broken person that they never expected me to follow Jesus—yet here I am. I hoped that, even though I hadn’t shared the gospel with people in those four years they could see how Jesus had changed me since they last saw me. I began to realize there’s a lot more to missions and being a missionary than just going to a third-world country.

Sharing my testimony with people at my local coffee shop—how God changed me from a troubled teen to a healing woman of faith—was the beginning of my missionary journey.

I’ve learned that every day is a mission. Every day is an opportunity to go out and share the gospel with someone who has never heard it or who may need encouragement. Many people need to hear that there is a God, he is gracious, he loves sinners, he wants them to come home. It’s because of the joy of loving God and knowing he loves me that I can share my faith now as a missionary in Waco as I wait to be a missionary in Japan.

God is preparing my heart in Texas, where there is only a very small percentage of people that are unreached and never heard the gospel, so that when I go to Japan—the second-largest unreached people group in the world where 97.9% of the population have never heard the gospel before—I can share what God has done in me to anyone I meet.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 ESV)

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

God has you where you are for a reason, and that reason is never small. Your testimony and transformation into the child of God that you are now is nothing small. God will use you for great things where you are and the impact will be bigger than you could ever imagine!

Lauren Graham

Lauren Graham is homeschool graduate pursuing her A.A. in Biblical Studies through Andersonville Theological Seminary. She is serving in Waco, TX at her home church in youth ministry and at Columbus Avenue Baptist Church as the receptionist and adult education assistant. She will be serving as a student intern in 2022 alongside the ABWE team in Japan. During her time as an intern, she will be building relationships with the Japanese through evangelism, discipleship, and outreach opportunities. Support her ministry.