The Costly Call of Christ

Posted on April 23, 2021 by Aaron Kauffman

Aaron M. Kauffman“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.” Mark 10:29-30

My daughter likes to tell this story from her middle school days. During a discussion in history class, her friend disclosed a family secret: “One of my great-grandfathers was a bootlegger.” Our daughter replied, “Wow. One of my great-grandfathers was Amish.”

I grew up knowing that only one generation ago, my father’s parents had made the difficult decision to leave the Amish. As the story goes, my grandparents Henry and Alma came to a new understanding of faith through the preaching of an evangelist in their community. The preacher’s invitation to know Jesus personally and have assurance of salvation was an invitation they wanted to accept. But doing so would have consequences. They would face shunning—complete cutoff of relationship—from their Amish community, even from their relatives.

Through a series of events, including experiences that can only be understood as signs from the Lord, they decided to choose Jesus over family ties. The pain of that decision still reverberates through my family today. And yet I am forever grateful for their obedience to God’s call.

Decades later, my wife Laura and I heard our own costly call from Jesus. We wanted to serve cross-culturally and had applied to several mission agencies. But the doors we hoped would be open stayed shut. Then the invitation came to serve in a small town in Colombia. There was a Mennonite school there where I could teach and Laura could serve as a nurse.

I remember searching the internet for news of Colombia. Violence, drug trafficking and kidnapping topped the list of headlines from mainstream news outlets. No way, I thought. We are not taking our newborn daughter to a place like that.

Yet we couldn’t shake the sense of call. We met with mentors of ours, Linford and Janet Stutzman, to seek their advice. They were leading student cross-cultural trips to the Middle East at the time. “Do you know what part of the three-month trip is the riskiest, statistically?” they asked. “The drive to the airport.”

A few weeks later during a church service, our pastor asked, “What risks are worth taking for the kingdom?” Laura and I looked at each other with tears in our eyes. We would follow God’s call to Colombia.

When we heed the Lord’s call, we never know where we’ll end up. There will be sacrifice and hardship. But there will also be unspeakable joy. Like countless generations of sojourners before us, may we have the courage to say yes to God’s call.

Filed in: All posts, Editorial, From the President, Transforming


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