My Calling

One of the questions I am most often asked is how the Lord led me to Australia. The only way to answer that is by by sharing my personal testimony of how God worked in my life. This story used to be a central part of my ministry presentation but after being on the field the focus is placed upon my present and future ministry. The story of God’s leading me to the mission field is relegated to an introduction that takes less than five minutes. Unfortunately the story takes place over fifteen years so I sort of have to move through it at warp speed.

Because of this I decided to share my personal testimony in a more unedited (meaning long) fashion. By that I mean it takes four and a half pages so I won’t be offended at all if you don’t read it. Many of you have already heard my story and are probably tired of listening to it so I decided to write a long post for my blog explaining it in detail. It is my prayer that this testimony will uplift and encourage you in the Lord. Also that it will focus your mind on the faithfulness of God.

The Lord began a great work in my life on easter Sunday night 1992. Dr. Wayne Fulton, pastor of my home Church Salem Baptist, was preaching on the need for men and women who would make a difference for God. To this day I honestly can’t remember the passage that he used for this message. I do however remember God touching my heart through the Holy Spirit and challenging me to become one of those people who were completely committed to him.

At the time I refused to give the Lord control of my life. This wasn’t because I selfishly wanted to satisfy my own desires. Instead there was a feeling in my heart that God couldn’t use me. Basically I believed along with many other people the lie of Satan that I was worthless. This wasn’t “low self esteem” but instead a form of pride that enjoyed feeding off the pity of others. I understand now what a sinful response this was, unfortunately as a ninth grader I didn’t. So instead of submitting to the Lord I left Church that night feeling sorry for myself.

After arguing with God all the way home I finally decided to give him complete control of my life. At the time I still didn’t view myself as much more than worthless, but honestly felt God could still use me. To this day I will never forget kneeling beside a white wicker chair in the patio at my parents home and giving the Lord control of everything in my life. That moment is burned in my mind because after rising from that chair in my heart I knew that the Lord would use me. This wasn’t a charismatic “voice” or wind moving through the trees. I simply knew that the Lord would use me for his honor and glory.

For probably the first time in my life I had confidence in my heart. This was because I saw myself as a child of God instead of a worthless piece of trash. At the time I felt as if God would begin using me in a power way soon. Although the following years gave me opportunities to glory if the Lord, that chance to be used didn’t come for many years.

During my remaining three years of High School God challenged me to become more of a leader spiritually. Those years were very important because up until that time I was very quiet and introverted. I jokingly tell people that I had the social life of a large rock, but that wasn’t too far from the truth. It was wonderful to see the God give me the confidence and strength to become the leader he wanted me to be.

During four years of college (1995-1999) I honestly expected God to show me his will for my life as in where to serve as a missionary during college. Actually he placed a calling upon me to begin planting churches in New York City. I had the opportunity to go there on a missions trip in the summer of my freshman year and felt the Lord really working in my life.

Also during college the Lord gave me a deep burden for discipleship. Specifically this had to do with teaching deep truths of the Word of God in a practical way. There are many people in the U.S. and especially other Nations who desire teaching from Scripture but don’t receive it. As I learned many lessons during college classes the Lord broke my heart over those people in need.

In 1999 I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biblical Studies. In my mind it was now time to become actively involved in ministry, but the Lord did something strange instead. He completely took away the burden that I had for New York City. Within a few weeks I knew that ministering there was not God’s Will for my life. Unfortunately I had not idea what was God’s Will!

This was obviously very frustrating for me because you want to have a clear idea of your future after graduating from college. But when I asked God for direction he challenged me to continue my education. This as you can imagine was not what I wanted to hear. But after fighting it for months I began classes for a Masters Degree while at the same time having no idea where the Lord wanted me to serve.

In 2003 I received my Masters Degree from Piedmont Baptist College’s Graduate Division. Towards the end of that time the Lord began putting the idea of serving in Australia within my mind. He also put a peace in my heart that this was definitely his will for my life. While this was encouraging a part of me wanted to see the Lord keep the promise he had made eleven years before in 1992. That is use me in a powerful way, not so that I could show everyone how powerful I am, but in order to bring Glory to God.

Before that happened The Lord challenged me to quit my job and retire from the work force at twenty seven in order to do raise support full time. This was another test of my faith because I was going $300 in debt each month since support was not high enough to financially care for my needs.

I can remember the day after I quit my job driving part way to a meeting in Florida. Laying on a bed in a motel room in Georgia writing my first real prayer letter. You can imagine that it would have consisted of the words “send money now!” in extremely large font! But instead all I could do was write about the peace of God that was in my heart.

A few months later I went to Australia for three and a half weeks in February 2004. It was during that time the Lord placed the city of Melbourne on my heart in a real way. And God used me in a powerful way so that Christ could be honored, keeping the promise he made in 1992. But that wasn’t the most moving thing he did during my time there.

I had the opportunity during my visit to see a new missionary come to the field for the first time. I was surprised to see a large group of Australians waiting around the doors which separated customs from the actual airport. When the missionaries came through those doors the Australians rushed forward, jumping over the barrier that was supposed to separated them, and embraced the new workers. I stood at the back crowd and looked forward to the day when I could come through those doors and be embraced by the Australian people. Basically Melbourne Australia became my home, the place where my heart was, in February 2004.

Almost three years later on January 10, 2007 at approximately 10:00 pm I walked through those same doors that separated customs from the main airport. This time not as a visitor who was coming to stay for a month, but a missionary who would live and die in Melbourne. What’s the point of my story? SImply that God is faithful. It took about fifteen years for me to become a full time missionary in Australia. But I can honestly say it was worth every year, month, day, hour, and second of waiting now that I am in the center of God’s Will for my life. May God bless and care for you my friends on your own very long journey, and keep you faithful.

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John Wilburn

Church planter, teacher, and disciple-maker in Barrouallie St. Vincent

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