Giving Up All to Follow God's Call

By Hanna Greenwood

When I was first hired as an assistant for missions, evangelism and youth at the CNBC, I thought I would be just that—an assistant. But let’s face it, it’s pretty hard not to get passionate about something when working for Cesar Parra. From the very beginning, he has pushed me to see my role as a missionary “in the everyday.” And, as part of the missions team at the office, I’ve had the privilege of seeing God work in amazing ways through our team both in Canada and around the world. Cesar asked me to share Talia’s story, because she is someone who pushes us all to be missionaries in the everyday.

Over two years ago, Talia phoned our office from Ontario to inquire about mission opportunities. She had spent previous years going on countless short-term mission trips to South Asia and was sensing God calling her to full-time missions in that area. She had been communicating with the International Mission Board (IMB) and was hoping they could be her sending agent. She lacked a few course credits and training needed for appointment by the IMB, and figured she’d enroll in seminary in Ontario to get the ball rolling.

Cesar Parra, national team leader for missions, talked with Talia that day and discussed the potential of her attending our seminary, Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary & College. It made sense for her to study with us if she was desiring to go with us, right? Cesar tells the story this way:

The day after we talked on the phone, I left to go to SYC for the week. When I returned to the office, Talia was here. … In the course of the week, Talia had packed her bags, driven across country and enrolled full-time in our graduate program at school. I immediately knew she was serious. She is determined. She is a missionary.

Talia spent the next year and a half studying at our seminary, and eventually graduated with her master’s. (A master’s in a year and a half?—pretty impressive!) Not only that, but early during her time in Alberta she identified a neighbourhood in Calgary with a large South Asian population.

Talia would study in the morning, and then head into the city in the afternoon to minister to and disciple South Asians. All of her free time would be spent with these people, learning about their food, their culture and their way of life. She was determined to know them better, and even more determined to share Jesus with them. She is a missionary.

In the evenings, she would return to the seminary where she lived in student housing. If you visited her apartment, you would find a minimalist room with a single hammock hung. Talia spent her year and a half at seminary in a hammock, as preparation for the lifestyle she would have in South Asia. Again, she was determined. She is a missionary.

In the fall of 2018, Talia attended the IMB expo and was appointed as a CNBC/IMB missionary. She left for her beloved country on January 3 of this year. We, at the office, have officially heard word of her safe arrival in country and we praise God for His faithfulness in getting her there. If her track record proves true, we know her determination and the continued faithfulness of the Father will carry her through. She is a missionary.

We tell Talia’s story because her determination inspires us. I think about how she could have said “no” to Cesar’s challenge, and “no” to a week’s notice of moving across the country to go to school. I think about the way she sought out South Asians and invested so much of her time to know them. I’m challenged by her drive and determination to finish school as soon as possible, so she might get on the field sooner.

And I think about the comfort she forsook in the smallest of things, such as a bed, so that she might experience and anticipate the reality she knew God had for her. It’s so evident her heart was set for a certain people, and her eyes were on Jesus. God had given her a vision. She was determined. She is a missionary.

I’m challenged to consider what God might be calling me to, what He might be calling you to. Would you stop at nothing to make it happen? Would every fibre of your being be determined to see that calling come to reality? I challenge you to consider the example of Talia; to embody her same determination and her same eagerness.

So, whether you are an assistant like me, a student, a church leader, a national team leader like Cesar, or packing your bags to head overseas like Talia, I pray 2019 will be a year of determination in the purposes God has for each of us. We are all missionaries.

Reprinted from the February 2019 CNBC Horizon. Read more here.