We all model our lives on stories we’ve heard and the people who exist in those stories. There are, of course, the biblical accounts of God’s people and Jesus. But there are also stories closer to home. The stories of our parents, grandparents, or people we hear about often make a profound impact on who we are and what we work at becoming.
This series looks at some of those stories as told by people within out Canadian Mennonite Brethren church family.
Janelle Hume didn’t like missions. Missionaries always appeared too holy and righteous. They definitely weren’t attractive people with an attractive lifestyle.
But experience can change a young person’s impressions dramatically. And that’s what happened to Janelle.
Following graduation from high school, Janelle was set to go into the field of education to become a teacher like her father. She was enrolled in the integrated education program at the University of Winnipeg when she bumped into Sam Dick, then coordinator of the TREK program for Mennonite Brethren Mission and Service International (MBMSI). He talked to her about the short term, cross-cultural program and gave her an application. She was mildly interested.
Janelle thought about the idea and prayed that if God wanted her to consider the option seriously, Sam would get back to her personally – and soon. Janelle received the affirmation she wanted when Sam contacted her within two days via an email from Thailand. God now had her attention and she felt peace about considering a term with TREK. At the end of summer 2005, Janelle left for Germany with the program.
The TREK experience was one of growth, both personally and spiritually. Janelle worked closely with missionaries. She began to discover who she was and some of her spiritual passions. A majority of the growth she experienced came as a result of her relationships with the other people on her team.
Following her year in Germany, Janelle returned to Canada and entered Canadian Mennonite University. But TREK had sparked a flame. Janelle knew she had to live a missional lifestyle. She also loved the cross-cultural context she had encountered. In Germany, she had felt a freedom to be who God wanted her to be. She had felt joy in service and in seeing people’s lives transformed.
Over the past few years, Janelle has participated in a series of other short term mission opportunities, serving in Guadalajara and Congo with MBMSI’s ACTION program and in Winnipeg with SOAR Heartland. She will most likely participate in ACTION again this summer.
Fluent in English and French, and with a working knowledge of Spanish and German, Janelle is also a gifted athlete – especially in basketball. While sports could be all-consuming, she wants to use those gifts for God. She says that sports demand disciplines that can easily be transferred to the spiritual disciplines necessary for a Christian life.
“God gave me ability. I should let it shine. But I would rather be known for having Christ in my life than as a great athlete,” she says.
In her last year of university – with two years of education training to go – Janelle isn’t sure where she’ll end up or what she’ll do next. But after her journeys in short term mission, she knows that her life will be one of living in mission, very likely teaching in the inner city.
Missions, even the possibility of being a missionary, are okay now.