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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Found Wanting: Brook Seekins, "I never wanted to be a missionary in Africa."

I am curating stories for a blog project called, “Found Wanting.” (If you’d like to submit a guest post, learn more here.) During Jesus’ earthly ministry, it was not uncommon for him to approach the sick and sin-sick with this question: “What do you want?” In John 5, he speaks with a man lying next to the healing waters of Bethesda, a man who has been an invalid for 38 years.

“When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be healed?’”

The man seizes an excuse. “I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up.”

Was it too much for this man to hope for healing? What is too great a risk to invite the responsibility for walking again?

There can be fear in desire: fear that we will want what God will always refuse to give; fear that we will not want whatever God, in his sovereignty, chooses to give.

Ultimately, we are profoundly afraid of ceding into the hands of God our trust.

I’m grateful for those willing to share their stories of desire here. In my book, Teach Us to Want, I claim that:

“Desire takes shape in the particularities of our lives. We cannot excerpt desire from the anthology of our stories. Our desires say something about us – who we have been, who we are and who we are becoming. They tell a part of the story that God is telling through us, even the beautiful and complicated story of being human and becoming holy.”

Adams. And Abrahams.

“Genesis is a book of beginnings and blessings. And if it is a book about unfaithful starts – Adam – it is also a book about faithful endings – Abraham. I trust, by grace, that my story (and yours) will, at the end of [our] days, have traveled that distance.”

Today, read a story from Brook Seekins, a missionary in Africa.

* * * * *

I never wanted to be a missionary in Africa.

(Never say “Never!” to God.)

After high school, I spent a school year in Europe as a short-term missionary, and while I was there, I learned to surrender to God and submit myself so that His desires for me became my desires.

I knew exactly what I wanted to do when I returned home from this trip: I wanted to study to be a missionary.

So off to Bible School I went. My goal was to prepare for the mission field. I’d go anywhere but Africa. Many friends thought I was crazy to go into missions. They couldn’t understand this deep-set desire in my heart. Every time a missionary came to speak at school or church, I would drill them with questions.

Finally it was time to graduate and get to work. What to do and where to go? So I waited for the Lord to open doors to mission fields, but nothing opened up. In fact, the only thing that seemed to be glaringly obvious was the need in my home church to work in our Christian School. There I went, following the door that God had clearly opened. Yet, in my heart I was longing to go overseas. I struggled to understand how God would let me sit here in the States, when I desired to be a missionary. So many people would never go overseas, and here I was, ready and willing.

But He wasn’t sending me.

Those four years were confusing and hard. I kept myself involved in several local ministries, but always, my heart was longing for the mission field. I devoured any missionary prayer letter that came my way and hounded any missionary that came to speak in our church.

All the while I was wondering why God wouldn’t let me go and serve Him.

I began to doubt my desire, thinking it was not from the Lord. Maybe this desire for missions was just the sense of adventure to see the world and not a call to serve Him. At one point, I started communicating with a young man whom I had met at a Bible Conference. He was studying to be a pastor, and we became long distance friends. I got to the point that I surrendered this “mission desire” to the Lord and began to consider serving God in the States as a Pastor’s wife. Shortly thereafter, the relationship ended before it had gone very far. But in my heart, I had surrendered the desire of missions to the Lord.

Within a year I could see that He was opening the door for me to go. I began contacting organizations about opportunities to serve, and within months, the Lord quickly opened doors for me. It was like an avalanche of events that all rushed me forward to my departure date --to Africa.

Now, more than ten years later, I am still serving as a missionary in Africa. The Lord has granted me the desire of my heart. In hindsight I can see how much of what I learned during that time when I felt “stuck” in the States are being used in my ministries today.

His desires became my desires. And they were fulfilled in His perfect timing.

My name is Brook Seekins, I serve in Tanzania in Youth Ministries. You can learn more about me on my blog: