Saturday, May 25, 2013

Who is your Barbara?

Dr. Barbara Cavaness (R) and another of my
mentors: Dr. Deborah Gill, signing their
joint book, God’s Women: Then and Now
(Grace and Truth, 2009)

I just hung up the phone with one of my main mission mentors. When I went back to school last time, one name kept popping up from different sources, both male and female. Barbara Cavaness-Parks had written a defining dissertation on the attrition of single female missionaries in the Assemblies of God. (She'd studied why there were fewer women in AG missions in the 1990s than in early years.)

When I was in Springfield, I'd try to connect with Barbara. We'd have lunch and she'd ask, "What can I help you with?" I didn't know. I wanted to hear about her career in missions, what she knew about life overseas, her research, and fill in gaps in what I was learning and writing. When we'd shake hands or hug at the end, she'd say, "Well, I don't know that anything I've told you has been useful."

I'd drive away thinking, "Aha, after talking to Barbara, I know this and this. Also, I didn't know anything about that."

Barbara pulled me away from things that were already explored to researching what still was waiting to be written. She loaned me her file drawers of research (which I somehow messed up in the process. Sorry, dear friend!)

Plus, she was just plain interesting! I liked her. I felt honored that she took time for me.

This morning Barbara called me after reading about our plans to move to Indonesia. Who knew!? Once again she is my trailblazer and mentor, pulling W and me toward the plans God has for us:
  • She did language school in Bandung and worked in Indonesia for two terms as a single missionary. We think we're headed for Bandung.
  • When she married, she was designated the primary missionary spouse in AGWM records, as I will be.
  • She learned Bahasa Indonesia and gave me tips on how the language is structured.
  • She advised me on teaching the Research Methodology course I'm teaching in Singapore this summer...
From Real Simple
And on and on it goes. You can't make up that kind of relationship, which delves into the broad picture and specific details of God at work. Only God can bring it together.

Thank you, Barbara, for your willingness to invest in me as part of God's kingdom. I am grateful - and always surprised - at God's intentionality and goodness in bringing us together.

Who is your "Barbara?" Who do you meet here and there, who is God's voice and God's hands when you're in the thralls of change? Please share him or her with our readers!

Read more:
*Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you. Hosea 10:12 NIV

*The Lord filled Zion with justice and righteousness; he will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge. Isaiah 33:5-6 NLT

*From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:16 NLT

Moravian Prayer: Almighty God, we live in a time of great instability. We do not understand why people around the world must struggle with poverty, illness, famine, violence, and hatred. Trusting in your abundant and gracious wisdom, show us what we can do to right the world’s wrongs. Amen.

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