By Vance Massengill
My missionary journey began in 1992 when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I was raised in a wonderful Christian home, but I strayed quite far from the life my parents desired me to live. In my early teens, I got seriously involved with alcohol and drugs, which also led into occult practices. Through all of my rebellion and despite their broken hearts, my mom and dad continually prayed for me. One evening my mother prayed a prayer that she felt she could only pray when all other hope was lost. She asked God to save me, even if it meant my life. She told Him, “I give him to You”. Through my parents unconditional love, grace, and consistent prayers the next day I accepted Jesus the next day at the age of 21 years old after attempting suicide. On March 21, 1992 at 9:05pm, I surrendered my life to God.
Baptized the next day and filled with the Holy Spirit the following week, I almost immediately felt called into ministry but was not sure exactly what God wanted me to do for Him. A month after receiving the Holy Spirit, I preached my first sermon. Thankfully I had a supportive pastor who gave or found me as many opportunities as he possibly could. During that first year of salvation, I was involved in children’s ministry, youth minister, and evangelism, but nothing seemed to fit. I had never met a missionary before and knew nothing about missionary service. It was the farthest thing from my mind, but I just knew God wanted me to do something… I just did not know what He wanted.
Almost a year to the day of being saved I was reading in the book of Isaiah. Eventually I came to chapter 6. As I began reading about God’s glory, I felt an overwhelming presence on God in my room. Then I read verse 8, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” Although I had never met a missionary or had any exposure to missionary literature, I knew this is what God was asking me to do. I promised Him, if He would make the way, I would go anywhere an do anything for HIm.
Immediately I confessed the calling to my local church, but most people really doubted me. They told me missionaries have to go to Bible college which seemed impossible for me at that time. Also I am incredibly introverted and was a very finicky eater, but I was determined to fulfill what I knew God was calling me to do. Less that a year later, In enrolled at Lee in the Intercultural Studies program. The education I got there laid a foundation of missiology that I still live by. Through intelligent, passionate, and experienced professors the fire of missions was eternally stoked.
As my graduation drew near, I began seeking God about where He wanted my wife and I to go (we met and married while at Lee). An organization called ELIC (English Language Institute/ China) contacted me and we made the commitment. I then called my parents to tell them where we would be going two weeks after my graduation. My mother, as always, was very supportive on the phone, but later I found out it broke her heart to hear where God was taking us. She told me a few years later that after our phone call she ran to her room to pray. She asked God, “Why are you taking my son so far away? Why are you taking my son to a place where He could be imprisoned or killed?” She said she then heard the voice of God firmly, but lovingly correct her by stating, “He is not your son. You gave him to Me!” At that moment, she knew my life was in God’s hands and she was filled with peace. She says, “She would rather have me half-way around the world serving God then living next door serving the devil.”
This year it has been 24 years since we first went to the mission field. While there are many things I might do differently, I would never change telling God, “Here am I. Send me!”
To learn more about the ministry of the Massengill family, please visit their profile page.