Jacob Mitchell’s 2013 is off to an adventurous start! Disciple Adventures asked him how he got from Kansas City to Johannesburg, South Africa.
How did you first learn about the opportunity to take the One Year Challenge?
The first time I remember really thinking about one was when Justin Renton presented the South Africa OYC at the ICMC in 2009. God gently, but not discretely, kept it on my heart ever since.
Every year I would get so close to committing to it, but each year I would decide to pursue a different course. But the voice in my heart kept getting louder.
What were some of the things that influenced your decision to go to the mission field for a year?
Honestly, the thing that influenced me was God. Since I was 12 years old, He instilled in me a passion for traveling and specifically a large desire to go to Africa. My passion was mainly directed toward third world benevolent missions, but I knew wherever I went I was always going to be entrusted with responsibility of advancing the gospel. So, in 2010 I was praying that God would really make my life exciting. When the OYC to South Africa opened up my heart was stirred.
I remember getting so anxious thinking I was going to leave the next day. But, just like a lot of things, I needed to get advice from people much wiser then I. After talking, I decided I should finish my degree. The following couple of years, I graduated and was again put in the predicament of trying to figure out what God was going to do with my life, really hoping it would not be what I consider another mediocre life. Then I went to the WDS in 2012 and again felt that voice in my heart telling me to do the OYC. After much thought, I realized there can be nothing more pleasing to God than to answer His call no matter what the cost. Thus, I decided I was going to do the OYC.
What were you most worried about? What made the decision difficult?
I knew that for me to go was going to mean giving up a very good job with a lot of stability, a relationship, a whole lot of time, and all the other comforts I was so accustomed to. My biggest fear was actually that I wouldn’t be able to get those things back. Satan told me it was irresponsible to go.
How did you make the move from "dream" to "I'm going?"
I think one of the most helpful things was being open with my best friend, Willie; one of my evangelists, Rob; and a wise elder, Charlie; about my dreams. They knew the depths of my heart and my desires to please God and go to Africa. Every time I would become afraid and freak out because of how hard I thought it would be, they would spiritually slap me in the face to get me to see things from God’s perspective. They wouldn’t let me pass up a chance to live out my dreams, even if it didn’t make sense logistically.
What practical things did you do to prepare?
Practically? Haha, just about the only practical thing I could think of doing was a lot of prayer. Prayer, fasting, and openness proved to be the most beneficial things I could do. It was two weeks from the time I got my visa and knew I could go to my plane actually taking off! In those two weeks I quit my job (turned my two weeks’ notice in a couple weeks prior as a step of faith), bought a bag and a ticket, packed, said goodbye to everyone, and prayed like a mad man.
What have you been doing since you arrived in South Africa?
So far, I have pretty much been reaching out all day, studying with a lot of guys, and encouraging the church. It’s been challenging but a great experience.
What are you learning from your OYC experience?
Over all, I am learning what it really means to rely on God.
What would you say to other brothers who are thinking of taking the OYC?
Don’t ignore the voice in your heart telling you to go. It’s not worth the regret. The voice won’t go away. Although it may not make any sense, if God calls you to do something, you can’t deny it. I’m sure it didn’t make sense to Abraham to sacrifice his son. But, always tell yourself, “on the mountain of the Lord, it will be provided.”
Have there been any surprises? What were you not prepared for, if anything?
Yeah, I think in the back of my head, I thought that as soon as I landed the heavens would open and I would gain this revelation that would carry me through the whole experience. But no, haha, the thing that is carrying me through all the challenges that I face here is the same thing that made me decide to be a disciple, Jesus is Lord.
What things have you seen in the church there that you want to imitate and learn from?
One thing is worship. I’m a sucker for the African worship; it’s such a great experience. But I think, also, the humility and hospitality of the Johannesburg church has made a big impact on me. I traveled literally halfway around the world and I immediately felt loved by the disciples here. It’s been very soothing for my anxious heart. I hope that I can learn how to be as loving and compassionate as the examples I have seen here.
Any final thoughts for Disciples Today readers?
We live in a world that is all about gaining success in many different areas. It often seems like joining that pursuit of success is what we are supposed to do. If you’re like me, it’s often quite difficult to figure out what God’s Will really is. Just remember Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” To put it plainly: if you want to know what God’s will is, don’t do what everyone else is doing. If you are able to go serve God for a year, do it. If not, support and encourage those who do.
From Albania to Bolivia to China—and at ten more international and U.S. locations—churches are calling for disciples to come to the mission field. Follow Jacob’s example, and get started by registering at Disciple Adventures.
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