I Told God, "No"

Author: Michael Babienco

February 2024

The hard, stiff Collegedale Church pews at Southern Adventist University had never been as cozy as they were at that Friday evening vesper service. I was studying computer science, and it was Student Missions Vespers that evening. The speaker made an appeal for people to come up to the front of the church and sign up as student missionaries. I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit telling me to sign up.

I told God, “No.” I stayed in the pew, ignoring conviction.

Later in my studies, I spoke to a friend about their upcoming student missionary service to the Dominican Republic. They were excited about their journey and the opportunity to minister to children and share the love of Jesus. Then an idea crossed their mind — I should go and be a student missionary, too!

Me? Go as a student missionary? Forbid the thought! I was in college to gain skills as a programmer, not become a missions expert. Missions were for pastors and teachers and nurses, anyway. I told my friend I would not be going — I was supposed to stay home. Again, I told God, “No.”

But God wasn’t done asking me to serve. He continued to work on my heart and place people in my path that pointed me to His will for my life.

A friend went to serve in Indonesia with his computer skills. Interesting! You can serve as a missionary with a wider set of skills than I had thought.

Another friend went to serve at the Central Thai Project. I donated some funds for their journey, and the Adventist Frontiers magazine soon started appearing in my mailbox. I discovered that the mission field was much more active — and in need — than I had first believed.

I stumbled across the “I Want This City” video series online, which documents a missionary’s ministry journey in Thailand. To say watching it was convicting would be an understatement.

Slowly, I began to realize that the mission field was bigger than I imagined and needed people from many backgrounds. And if people were needed, why not me?

When I finally followed God’s plan for me and went to serve, I discovered that missions were a huge challenge. It was hard work! But it also did something else — it gave me fulfillment in doing God’s work, gave me a sense of purpose, and filled the desires of my heart in ways I never expected. I was even able to use the programming skills God had given me. They were not wasted. With that short experience under my belt, I continue to follow God’s will by working as a career missionary in another unexpected place, Japan.

Perhaps you are waffling on whether you should serve as a missionary. If God is convicting you to serve, I have one word of advice — Go! God’s will is always best, and it is usually — if not always — better than you can imagine.