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Missionary learns God’s voice can come at unexpected times

AUSTIN, Texas (BP)–It’s not often that God speaks through the guy in the next shower stall. But that’s exactly what Charif Haddad said happened to him.

Haddad, pastor of a new church among people of Middle Eastern descent in Dearborn, Mich., was one of 38 new North American Mission Board missionaries commissioned Feb. 9 at Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin, Texas.

In a personal testimony during the service, Haddad shared how he struggled with his call to ministry as a teenager in his native Lebanon. During a shower after a soccer game one day, he found himself thinking of all the reasons he couldn’t obey: He had a family to raise, a plan to become an engineer, and the obstacles were just too great.

“It’s impossible to do it financially,” he told God. “It’s impossible for me to change people’s hearts.”

Then his friend in the next stall, a non-Christian who had not heard his silent prayers, shouted out loud: “What is impossible to man is possible to God.”

“It made the hair on my neck stand up,” Haddad said. “I said, ‘Sam, where did those words come from.’ He said, ‘I don’t know. They just came to mind, so I blurted them out.'”

That was the beginning of God’s intervention, Haddad said. Later he felt God wanted him to serve in the United States, but he didn’t see a way for it to happen. “I said, ‘Lord, if you want me to serve you, send me to the States. I don’t have the visa, I don’t have the resources, I don’t even have the desire to go.”

The next day, he received a letter from a church in the United States offering to sponsor him as he pursued his education and ministry. Eventually – after Bible college and seminary – God called him to his current work in Dearborn, Mich.

“People at NAMB and in Michigan were praying hard that God would send somebody to work with the Middle Eastern people in Dearborn,” he said. “We answered the call a couple months ago, and we need your prayers and support, because without your prayers we cannot do it on our own.”

Obedience to God’s call also was central to the commissioning message of NAMB President Robert E. Reccord. He shared a three-part action plan for the Christian life that is becoming one of the board’s central messages: “Answer his call, tell his story and change your world.”

“When you answer his call, you will inevitably have the opportunity to tell his story,” Reccord said. “And when you unapologetically do that, you will change your world.”

The Christian journey can be seen as an adventure, something that involves risk – and potentially tremendous joy and excitement, Reccord said.

“What would your life be like if there were no adventure in it?” he asked. “What would your life be like if there weren’t any risk involved in it? Would you ever have learned how to walk?”

He noted the bravery of the Columbia space shuttle crew, who knew that astronauts are known as “explorers who blast into the future on an orange ball of flame to chart the unknown.”

“Jesus Christ wants you to be a follower who blasts into the future on a flame of the Holy Spirit to chart the unknown, where you have never been before,” Reccord said. ” Are you ready? Because if you aren’t, you’re going to miss the great things in life he has for you.”

And just as with those on the Columbia crew who were committed Christians, God’s call is also not limited to those in ministry, Reccord said.

“I think we have set up a dualism that’s not biblical,” he said. “Here’s what we’ve made it sound like: If you are a missionary or if you are minister, you can be called of God. But if you’re a plain old laywoman or layman, how can God call you? There is nothing more inaccurate than that.”

He noted a recent news story he read about Bev Kearney, the University of Texas track and field coach who was in a car accident in which two friends were killed. In her hospital room she realized that even then she was doing the things she had always done: counseling people and helping them with their problems.

“About a week ago I finally realized that what God wanted me to do was to utilize the gift he’s given me to help others — and use that then to help me,'” Reccord read from the article. “Now there’s a lady who understands the call of God,” he said.

“My question to you,” Reccord asked his audience in Austin, “is, Are you doing what you’re doing because God called you do it?”
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: GOD’S CALL, REITERATING THE CALL, PRAYING FOR THE CALLED and COMMISSIONED FOR N.Y.

    About the Author

  • James Dotson