February / March 2015 - Vol. 78
James DeSpelder
Obeying God's Call to Mission

“I will surely bless you… because you have obeyed me”


by James C. DeSpelder

Intro: The GAP program is a Kairos initiative for people aged 18 to 22. It has proven to be an effective tool in training and forming young Christians for mission. People from all over the world come to the GAP base in Glasgow, Scotland for a year of service  through evangelism, student outreach, youth work, or media and publications projects. As Gappers they get the opportunity to live in "households," a small community of young people who pray together, live together and do mission work.

GAP years are for other people. At least, that’s what I told myself. My parents had been suggesting a GAP year for ages, but I would have nothing to do with it. I couldn’t wait to graduate from university, start making money, and begin my climb up the corporate ladder.


But then I went to the University Christian Outreach (UCO) Winter Retreat held in North America in January 2014.


I expected to be spiritually refreshed and leave renewed – but not changed. I didn’t want to change. At the time, I had an excellent job in my future career field with a fantastic wage, friendly boss, and complete flexibility with my class schedule. I was set until I graduated. This job was the result of much prayer, patient waiting, and I rightfully considered it a gift from God.


A teaching from Martin Steinbereithner shattered those expectations.  As Martin spoke about different Biblical figures, I was only half listening – until he got to Abraham. Abraham’s son Isaac was the result of much prayer, patient waiting, and a gift from God. But still, God called on Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on an altar. Abraham obeyed. Not only was his son unharmed, but he was blessed by God for his obedience.


Martin challenged us to identify gifts from God in our lives that we had turned into idols and to think of ways our idols were inhibiting us from hearing God’s call to us for mission. I was immediately convicted with the realization that my idol was my job. I had snatched the gift God had given me and run away from my generous Father like a greedy child. It was in that moment I knew I was going on a GAP year.


I have been in Glasgow since September 2014 and have experienced a “return on investment” beyond anything I could have imagined. I’ve made lifelong friends in an incredibly hospitable and exciting community. I cannot wait for my personal prayer time every morning, I experience a measureless joy and wonder working with local children, and I’ve been given a wealth of wisdom from the poor.


I have seen God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 22 extended to me - as he extends it to all those who answer his call. “I will surely bless you… because you have obeyed me.”

James DeSpelder is from Lansing, Michigan, USA. He grew up in the Work of Christ Community in Lansing. He is currently in the Kairos GAP Base program in Glasgow, Scotland. He serves on many projects, including partnering in mission with an evangelical church in one of Glasgow's neediest areas.

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