Meet Magnolia – A Grad from South Asia
Q: Give us a little background about your story and how that led you to looking for an organization like Cafe 1040.
A: When I was in high school I got the opportunity to go on a few short-term mission trips. It was going on these trips that I got to see the church in a different culture and God moving in a different culture. God is not just a God of America or the West, but a God of the entire world. That is how He first started opening up my eyes to missions. I loved being in other cultures; I love getting to experience new food, seeing different types of dress and worship.
Q: How did you find out about Cafe 1040's program?
A: I met Cafe 1040 mobilizers at Urbana 2015! I didn’t run into the Cafe 1040 booth until the last day and I was a little disappointed because I had been talking to all these missions organizations and was really excited, but I didn’t feel like I knew what my next steps were. I was a freshman at college at the time, I knew I wanted to go overseas long-term, but I didn’t want to keep going on short-term trips and none of the other organizations had any options for me. I went to one last booth, and they suggested that I head over to the Cafe 1040 table. I met a missions mobilizer and had one of the most spirit-filled conversations I have ever had in my entire life. She asked me what I was looking for and she told me exactly what the program was, what the purpose was, and how I could go through the program in the summer. I thought to myself, this is exactly what I am looking for! I know I want to be a missionary, but I needed training and equipping to get me there.
Q: Why did you choose Cafe 1040 over other programs or organizations?
A: I was looking for options while I was in college that weren’t a year or two years long that was different than the short term mission trips I had been on.
Q: Why did you choose your location for overseas?
A: Before I went through the Cafe 1040 program, I had told God I would go wherever and then I learned that Cafe 1040 only had three bases inside the 10/40 window and I was very unfamiliar with these places and was hesitant to go. But it was the coolest part for me; being able to experience a completely different culture and being immersed and seeing the beauty. God views every culture as beautiful and unique.
Q: What did you enjoy most about your time there and with our program?
A: I just loved the culture that we were in. I loved how vibrant their culture is. Asian cultures love to celebrate their culture. I loved wearing the traditional South Asian dress, trying new food and making cross-cultural friends. Meeting locals, asking questions and getting to learn about a culture I was so unfamiliar with was so amazing.
Q: Describe an experience you had that impacted the way you thought about missions.
A: The very first day I landed in South Asia our team leader walked us through the biblical basis of missions and I have never really heard that before. He told us how in Genesis through Revelation God has been calling the nations to worship Him. I remember them asking us the question, why are you here? Is it because you love people? And my initial answer was, yes, I love people that is why I want to be a missionary. And they said that was wrong, that is not why you should want to be a missionary. My desire and reasoning was that I loved God, and I knew he loved people and therefore I want to be a missionary. That made me think, maybe I don’t know as much about missions as I thought I did and maybe I don’t have as pure intentions as I thought I did. Maybe I have wanted to be a missionary for myself and that God would love me because I am doing this work for Him. It was a guilt that was driving me to be a missionary, but I realized that throughout my summer with Cafe 1040 that God loves me for who I am and not what I give to Him. I heard God say, “Magnolia, you need to be here for me.”
Q: Tell us about any relationships you created with locals that were impactful.
A: I was able to develop a relationship with a family in basetown. How welcoming they were to me and my team was really impactful. We were able to have spiritual conversations with the daughters. We never got to explicitly share the Gospel, but we were there to build relationships with them and learn what they believe. You have to be a learner first before you can have a spiritual conversation with them. I needed to learn what their worldview was, what they believed, before I could ask them to start following Jesus. They want to make that decision together as a family. I was able to tell them about my faith and what I believed. I want to know what they desire and create relationships with them.
Q: What did you appreciate the most about the culture you were living in?
A: I appreciated how welcoming and open the people in South Asia are. I think we can learn a lot from them. One of the most impactful experiences I had in South Asia during my summer was when I met a family in a park one morning. She just approached me in the park even though we spoke different languages. I think that is a great representation of people seeing one another and seeing who they are, and wanting to get to know them. They want to have the relationships with people. Not one way is better than the other, but it was so wonderful to run into people.
Here in the States when people come over whether they are international students, refugees, or immigrants, we are not as welcoming. Now that I think about it that must be so hard, and lonely and isolating for people who come from communities that are so welcoming and then walking into America where we can be so individualistic.
Q: Did this experience give you more clarity and confidence on your calling? How?
A: I definitely walked away from my summer that I had clarity that I want to do missions long-term in the future and I left more confident in that. I also left having a more pure motivation. Yes, God I want to do this! It was pretty early on in the summer that I gained this clarity. When I am overseas in different cultures, I feel so much more at home. Learning more about God’s heart and it was so clear to me while I was physically among an unreached people group.
One specific day we were praying over a map and I looked at Joshua Project to find where the most unreached people groups. The area of the world that has the most amount of people who have never heard the story of Jesus was where I was living and I loved it there. I heard God speak to me and say, this is where I need the most cross-cultural workers and this is a place you love, why wouldn’t you say yes to this?
Q: Where will you be serving or are thinking of serving? Why?
A: When I got back from South Asia I had clarity and confidence that I wanted to go long-term and during grad coaching started making a 1, 3, and 5-year plan. I then started taking Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. I began thinking about the people around me and there are so few people who want to go long-term and they didn’t know about unreached people groups, the 10/40 window and God’s heart for the nations. I realized that the church is responsible for taking on this task. Although I am going overseas in the future, and God started asking me what would it look like if I asked you to stay for awhile. What if you took your heart and passion and mobilized stateside? I was very resistant to that at first, but God was asking why I was being disobedient. I took a day to pray and fast and laid out all my options. I have such a strong heart for mobilization and wanted to combine my dream job of overseas mentoring, cross-cultural work and leading a generation to tell the story of Jesus it lead me to mobilize for Cafe 1040 stateside before going long-term. I know that my next step is investing into young adults is helping them take next steps towards the unreached and that is the most strategic for me and helps me build a foundation for long-term overseas service.
Q: Would you recommend Cafe 1040’s program to others/friends?
A: Yes, I would definitely recommend this program to anyone!
Q: If you could summarize Cafe 1040 into one sentence, how would you summarize our program?
A: I learned that God has a heart for the nations and God has a heart for me and he wants to use me in His greater plan of spreading his glory to the nations.
Q: What would you tell someone who is considering Cafe 1040?
A: The summer going through the program was the most influential of my life. It completely changed the way I viewed God, the world and myself. I believe whole heartily you will leave a different person and when we allow God the opportunity to hear from Him, He shows up. This experience will change the way you experience your relationship with the Lord.