Please note: for background perspective about Bailey as a missionary apprentice at TRBC, please click through to here.
What follows in this post and a second one to come are her responses to my request for her to share her journey with us. The more we know about God's leading in her life the better we can support her as a church along the way!
Take it away Bailey!
I have struggled with how to begin this, and with what precisely to say. I’m still not sure I have it right. Pastor Curt had asked me to share some of my own story pertaining to missions, and I wish to share some of my heart in asking TRBC to be my sending church.
I will not share my testimony here, but I will say that the primary way that I knew I had genuinely changed following my conversion in my late teens was that I began to see the true worth of the church. Throughout my life the people who have been most hurtful to me were professing believers, and prior to my conversion, I held much anger toward the people of God. After becoming a believer, perhaps the greatest immediate change in me was my forgiveness and love towards my fellow believers.
I spent much of my childhood as a false convert and was not genuinely converted until my late teens. Even then I swore I would never be a missionary or serve in full-time ministry. After high school I was left quite indecisive about my future and agreed to a gap year program with Operation Mobilization.
Originally, I had signed up to go to Russia, and ended up going to the Republic of Ireland, where I spent most of my year serving with a small Presbyterian church in County Cork. What I thought would be an easy diversion from my conundrum of what to do with my life quickly became the tool God used to convince me of my role in global missions.
The other young woman with whom I was partnered in Ireland was a gift of God I initially did not want, as we significantly disagreed in the beginning. As time went on, however, I watched her weep over the state of the nations and the fact that there were billions of people who would never hear of Christ. I was privileged to watch her grow in grace and faithfulness with a zeal for the gospel few Christians have.
About a year after returning to the U.S., in the summer of 2017, I was working through some secular college classes when I took time off of work to help facilitate a VBS at my home church. Over the course of that week, doing ministry with the church team, I became convicted that I should be participating in ministry full time as a vocation.
That thought had been in the back of my mind for some time, and much as I tried to ignore it, God has a way of circumventing willful ignorance. Two weeks past that VBS, I was enrolled in online classes at a Bible college and had located a mission board that would let me dip my toes into the idea of ministry in a developing nation.
I ended up going to Kenya for the first time in May of 2018. Originally, I had planned to go for three months, and that quickly turned into six months. At the end of that term, I was fairly well convinced that the plan God had for my life would not be on any beaten path back in America.
After going home with plans to renew my visa the following spring, I got a call from my team leader in Kenya that his wife, the mom to the kids I had spent six months teaching, was gravely ill and not expected to live. She had contracted a mysterious form of tropical illness similar to typhus and was hospitalized for a month.
While she did live, the experience seriously wounded them as a family, and they would end up transitioning to refugee ministry stateside. They asked that I return in March of 2019 to catch the kids up on school so they would be prepared to transition out of homeschooling, and I stayed in Kenya again for another six months in order to do that.
Stay tuned for part two of Bailey's story coming soon!