Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What does it mean to be called by God?

Some people say they hear voices. Others say they get the chills.
Some say they get recurring thoughts or dreams. Others say they get signs or co-incdences.
Some seek years and years in prayer and fellowship with believers and never "feel" the call of God. Others say they can "feel" His presence on a daily basis.

I'm in the belief that God works deeper than "feelings" or "co-incidences" but rather out of a relationship that we have with Him. So I guess my question should be "What is a relationship with God?" I can't explain that one. I don't even know where to start. All I can do is live it out. And try to do my best to figure out how to do that on a daily basis.

With that in mind, I'm trying to figure out if I'm getting called by God to go to Iraq. Maybe you can help me. But you'll have to read my story first. And I'll throw a couple of random pictures in just to try and confuse you :)

Me and my beautiful girlfriend Jill.
Even before I wanted to come to the US I was a die-hard basketball player. Australia doesn't have any inter - high school or university sports, but I was still training 7 days a week. "Basketball is life......the rest is just details" was my motto. However, at one of the high points of my young basketball career, at age 16, I was seriously considering giving it all up.

I was a young Christian at this point too and really didn't know what prayer was, but I decided I was going to pray about this decision. I told God I was done with basketball unless He were to give me an amazing oppurtunity to keep playing. I told Him that if that were to happen that I would do it for Him, that my basketball would be solely dedicated to glorifying his name and not my own.

About a year later I'm standing on the basketball court of Blue Valley North High School about to make an inbounds pass. There is 2500 in the stands, we are down by 1 to the 8th ranked team in the nation, with about 5 seconds left. I make the pass to Jerod and he takes it to the rack and lays it in. The crowd storms the court and there is pandemonium! We had one our first game of the season in my first basketball game in the US as an exchange student.

About a month later I realized that God had answered a prayer and that I hadn't made it to the US all by myself. You see my idea of playing basketball to glorify God was to get good enough to play in the NBA, get some popularity, and use that popularity to evangelize and spread His word.

The Fellows @ Camp Balcones Springs. You can check out our blog at

Well for the next 4 years, with that idea in mind, my basketball experience took a downward slide. I would constantly doubt God's call to have me here in the US because of the situations I had got into with basketball. A couple of bad teams and mediocre coaches later, and I had almost totally given up on the idea of going anywhere with basketball, let alone the NBA. Why would God answer a prayer, give me an amazing oppurtunity to play, and then totally crush my desire for basketball? To show how big He is? Maybe.....

This January I went to the Passion conference, a huge conference with over 25,000 college age students in attendance with a desire to see God's word be spread amongst the nations. God did some amazing things there. He impacted my life in so many ways and through so worshipful experiences. He brought me out of a huge pit and gave me a passion for His word again. I would recommend attending an event like that if you ever get the chance.

One minor thing that happened while I was there was my "free time" visit to the missions booth. I randomly ran into a guy there that was apart of a program called Infinity Sports. We started a conversation and he was telling me about a basketball mission trip they were planning later in the year and if I was interested. I said it would be tough with my schedule and new job. I gave him my email and he handed me his business card. I told him to send me all the info he could about the trip.

Lane + Brooke + Mike + Brenton = Fellows Foursome.

Fast forward three months to last Sunday. I was sitting at Brookhaven Southern Baptist Church in Dallas with my girlfriend (I know I haven't posted about her yet....she is a phenomenal woman of God and I could probably dedicate the rest of this post to her, but hopefully the picture above will suffice.). The pastor started the service off by introducing a lady that his church had supported for many years on the mission field. She was about to take off on a trip to Iraq the next day to start a journey to get involved with the Kurdish community to hopefully plugged in over there. Her talk was very emotional and heartfelt. As she talked about these people she had to pause many times to fight back her tears over the grace that God had shown her throughout her life.

As she continued to speak, she mentioned that a little sports project had been laid in her lap and that God was calling her to organize sports teams to come to Iraq and spread the gospel. The blessing, she said, was that this was not initiated by her or her company, but by the Northern Iraqi government. They intentionally wanted missionaries to come over and teach basketball to the youth. How amazing is that!!! Well, it's about time to cue the lightning bolt...

As soon as she mentioned the sports project, I remembered that the guy I had met at Passion had written a name on the back of the business card he gave me. He told me that it was the director of their program, whose headquarters were in Dallas. He said I should try to get in contact with her since I wasn't going to be too far from there.

I found the card tucked away in my wallet. The name on the back of the card was Debbie Rouse. Her home church happenned to be Brookhaven. And at that moment, she was speaking to me about her heart for missions in Iraq. I couldn't believe it. Did I just get zapped? I turned to Jill and showed the card to her. She couldn't believe it either! What just happenned?

Me, Jill and Sweetie the bird @ Caldwell Zoo
For the rest of the service I couldn't think about much else except going to talk with this lady. Jill and I were able to join in a communal prayer for her before the end of the service, and I waited around to talk to her. I told her my story and what I had just witnessed. She too was pretty taken back. "That's totally from God!" she said, "You know you're coming right?" My first thought was "No.....I don't know that I'm coming!" But I can't deny that I was a little excited that in that moment, God was doing something in my life......whatever it was.
I realized that it was going to be near on impossible for me to go. Having a full time job and a schedule that is packed tighter than my suitcase on a trip back home, I kind of downplayed the whole idea that God was calling me to go to Iraq. If I were to maintain any loyalty to my promise to Sky Ranch, it literally and logistically would be impossible.

The Fellows with Wiggy and Quint after a grand camping trip at Camp Champions

I really have no idea where this story is going to end or what I should do next. In a sense it really feels like I've been zapped by a lightning bolt and am still dazed and dizzy from the after affects. But during our leadership seminar yesterday I stumbled over a piece of wise advice:

"Get yourself involved in tasks that are impossible to accomplish unless God shows up"

This trip is not impossible for Him. My will is to be totally obedient to His call.

Is this a call for me to go to Iraq this summer?

I have no idea. But I'm not going to let it go. I've got to keep seeking and searching. I need to try and find a balance between logic and loyalty, between the discriminate and the divine. Yet I have a feeling that the balance won't neccesarily be even.

Lane, Me and Mike on my birthday @ Outback Steakhouse.

If you read this message, all I would ask that you would pray for me as I discern where God has me going in this next couple of months. Who knows, you could watch with me as God makes the impossible possible. Or maybe you'll see God put an oppurtunity in front of me and not allow me to go. Either way I'm excited that God is up to something in my life, and something BIG.

I'm excited to see what happens next. Thanks so much for reading and I hope that you would help me lift this up in prayer.