October 3, 2017, 12:28 PM

My Times Are in His Hands

This is a guest blog post by Cristie Dykeman, who is currently serving as an AIMer (Associate in Missions) to Suriname.

I have felt a call to missions since I was twelve years old at a missions conference held at my home church. I believe I had to wear a costume representing the country of Colombia that year. Since then, I have felt a longing to do something for the work of the Lord in the field of missions.

I first heard of Suriname in 2002. I was fifteen years old at the time. Brother and Sister Rhoads were deputizing in New Brunswick, Canada and visited my church. I don’t remember the message that night but I remember the altar call. My pastor at the time, Brother James McLaughlin, said that he felt the Lord was prompting him in the Spirit that there was a young person in the service who would one day be with the Rhoadses in Suriname. I felt the presence of the Lord sweep over me, and I was slain in the Spirit and stayed there praying for some time. I went home and recorded the events in my journal, writing with complete assurance and some naivety that I was going to Suriname.

Fast forward a few years later and I married at the age of nineteen. During my eight-year marriage my husband backslid. I spent several years crying to God for my husband’s salvation and lamenting what I perceived to be a missed calling. I certainly couldn’t see how I could be involved in Global Missions being married to a man who did not share the same desire. After a particularly difficult year, the Lord gave a word as I prayed in the chapel at the hospital where I worked: “Get ready for phase two.” It seemed such a strange thing for the Lord to say and yet it was so clear that I couldn’t deny it.

When I arrived home from work that night, my husband told me he was leaving to move in with another woman. He was increasingly involved with drugs and alcohol and there was no way to dissuade him. It was not the outcome for which I had prayed but I am thankful to serve a God who truly gives “beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for mourning.”

In the following months, I made a big move back across the country to the area where I had grown up. It was a difficult time but the Lord prepared the way for me and provided for all my needs.

The following year I felt a renewed desire to be involved in missions. I applied and took park in a missions trip to the Dominican Republic with Compassion Services International (a UPCI endorsed ministry) using my profession as a nurse. Two more trips followed and the old familiar longing for greater participation intensified. As I thought about the AIM program, only one country came to mind— Suriname. At this point in late 2015/early 2016, there were no UPC missionaries in Suriname as the Rhoadses were living in Texas. Many times, I questioned, “How can I be with the Rhoadses in Suriname when they aren’t even there? Was that word really from the Lord?”

In August 2016, I saw a picture on the AIM2go Facebook page of the “newest church in Sand Landing, Suriname, (submitted by the Rhoads family).” My heart nearly jumped from my chest as I wondered if this could possibly be the same missionaries I remembered. After a good amount of searching, I found Brother Rhoads’ Twitter account and subsequently a link to their website. When I contacted the Rhoadses by email inquiring if they had need for an AIMer, Brother Rhoads asked what town I was from and who my pastor was when they had deputized at my church in 2002. After providing that information, Brother Rhoads replied that he had thought it might be me as he remembered Brother McLaughlin telling him I just might go to Suriname one day.

A little over a year since this exchange, as I write this, I am sitting in my rented apartment in Paramaribo, Suriname! The past year has been filled with many changes including selling my house to downsize and leaving my job to come on this three-month AIM term. My family and friends have been so supportive and I have been overwhelmed with the generosity and miracles that have taken place to get me here.

It has been over fifteen years since the Lord laid the country of Suriname on my heart.

I don’t know exactly what the Lord has in mind for me in Suriname and many times I doubt my abilities. Of course, I will be involved in the church here, and God willing, I will be volunteering in a hospital, using my nursing vocation to help minister to people in need. I know this period of my life is a call to deeper consecration and devotion. Also, it is a time to learn from the Rhoadses’ years of experience in ministry.

I will probably leave Suriname having gained more than I contributed, likely feeling the same as many other AIMers before me. I know that the Lord has a plan; if He knew my future over fifteen years ago, He is certainly in control of what lies ahead. He is, after all, a sovereign God in the middle of the chaos of this world. Truly my times and yours are in His capable hands.