Disappointments turn into Appointments – MD Issue #37

Written by Penny Jackson

When God closes a door, He opens a window
During our college years, we knew God wanted us to go to Africa as church planting missionaries. We believed strongly that He was leading us to the Republic of South Africa. In preparation for serving in Africa, we accepted a youth pastor position in Ohio.

After five years at the Ohio church, we joined a global mission agency who strongly suggested that we initiate pre-field ministry for Zambia, and not the Republic of South Africa!

We were very disappointed but understood the mission’s decision as they already had a couple in Zambia.

Surprisingly, pre-field ministry only took us 10 months. We gave away our dog, sold our motorcycle, donated our furniture, packed our remaining belongings, and left our home in Ohio for NY to spend a couple weeks with John’s family before flying out.

We also participated in a college conference in Michigan and as we departed the platform, an administrator from our mission told us that Zambia was on the brink of civil war over the copper mines.

Consequently, the government was evacuating all non-Zambians, which meant we were now free to pursue going to the Republic of South Africa!

When God closes a door, He opens a window.   

When you don’t understand the hand of God, you can trust His heart
We found a little converted garage to live in near John’s family in Binghamton, NY. We had nothing – no furniture, no dishes, no winter clothing in January, not even a bed for 18-month-old Jason.

We found some cardboard boxes to use for a table and two dressers. As we trusted God, He supplied everything we needed. Suddenly, people from our church showed up with beds, chairs, dishes, even a very small TV. In addition, a nearby Christian high school asked John to teach and begin a girls’ soccer program.

We made several trips to the South African consulate in New York City, only to hear, “Sorry, your South African visas are not ready yet.”  We didn’t understand why our bodies were stuck in the USA, when our hearts were already in Africa!

During the ninth month of our ‘lessons in trust’, John’s father passed away. Only then did we understand the heart of God! He allowed us to be right there with the family during the funeral and the weeks that followed. One month after John’s dad went to heaven, we received our visas in the mail which allowed us, finally, to go to South Africa!

When you don’t understand the hand of God, you can trust His heart.

God is too loving to be unkind and too wise to make a mistake
We had packed up all our belongings over a year before, and in those days, missionaries usually packed their belongs in 55-gallon drums and transported them on cargo ships.

But there had been a mix up at the docks when our drums were to be shipped. Our eighteen 55-gallons drums never were loaded in a ship bound for Zambia due to a paper mistake made by the port authorities. They sat on a dock in New York City and eventually were trucked back to where we were living.

In His kindness, our African ministry supplies in those barrels were protected by God and eventually shipped to South Africa.

Eight years after we knew God wanted us in Africa, we finally arrived. Disappointment, confusion, tears, questions, were evident during those years. But also, life-long lessons were learned. God is too loving to be unkind and too wise to make a mistake.

Perhaps God has closed the door to something you were hoping would happen. LOOK for the window He is opening. Maybe God is asking you to serve Him in another area while you wait. Learning to trust God now will help you through tough times in the future. Remember, He has not stopped loving you, even when you question.


John and Penny