1 Corinthians 1:1 “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God…”
Paul was called to be an apostle, and this calling was from the will of God Himself. God gives people different callings in life, Paul was to be an ambassador for Christ, to go out among the Gentiles and the Jews to represent Jesus and to preach to them the way of salvation through faith in the name of Jesus.
In this part of “Don’t Despise Small Things” I am going to be recounting how God called me into His service, although I had a feeling that this was the purpose of my life for most of my life and even had been given verses along the way, it hasn’t been until the last year or so that it has become absolutely solid in my mind that I am called to serve God in this way. There were a ton of small things though, and all these small things put together is what cemented in my mind my calling. I did not want to take this honor upon myself, of being a teacher and preacher of God’s Word, and so I waited until I knew for certain that it was His idea in the first place.
Before reading on I suggest you check out the other parts first if you haven’t.
When I came back to God it was a shock to everyone because of how sudden it was, but looking back and seeing all the small details that led up to it I see that it wasn’t so sudden after all. Four months after this choice to follow God I found myself in Bible College.
Getting to Bible College was as big of a miracle as Him bringing me back to Himself. My sister was a current Bible College student when I wasn’t walking with God, and her and her friends used to pray for me that I would come back to the Lord and that I would go to Bible College some day. All the time my sister would bug me to come visit her in Murrieta at the Bible College. But I always found ways to say no, and was annoyed that she would even ask. I thought it was weird that people lived in a College where all they did was study the Bible. I thought Bible College was a place like a monastery, boring and dry. One week I finally gave in and decided to go. At the time I had a cool 1968 Mustang, and thought I could show off how incredibly cool I was in comparison to all the Bible College students and maybe even meet some cute Bible College girls. When I got there I was shocked to find everyone looked way more cool then me. And the girls were different. There were two twins that I met, that literally shined the light of Jesus. I had never met anyone like that. Being near her and looking into her eyes was like looking into the eyes of Jesus, and I’m not exaggerating. I was so impacted by meeting this one girl, and feeling the presence of God in her, that It changed my entire perception of Bible College. I think my perception of women was changed as well. I came back just shocked at how real people’s relationships with God could be, and it showed me what I was missing.
If I could point back to one moment that started the Bible College adventure, I could narrow it down to one surprising word; vacuum. Yes, you read that right, vacuum. God used the small thing of my parents buying a vacuum to get me to Bible College. One of the friends in my group, Audi, moved to Murrieta California to work for Rainbow Vacuums. She was the secretary for them. The owner, Christopher, who was also a youth pastor, needed leads and I volunteered my house for a demonstration. I came home to my house late that night after work, finding my family all sitting with Chris, ready to hear his presentation. Two hours later they had bought the worlds best (and most expensive) vacuum, and I had learned of a new opportunity to open up a business for myself. One week later I was driving to Murrieta, California to be trained. Coincidently enough the office was literally one block away from the Bible College, in fact I drove right by it each week. By this time my sister had recently graduated from Bible College, but she still had friends there whom she wanted to visit. Since I drove by each week, she asked if I would drop her off at the Bible College. I was still resisting my sister’s urges that I should go to Bible College, even though I was now going to it sometimes once a week to drop her off.
One day, I was driving by my church and started to reflect on my life. I had just lost my job working at the movie rental store in Wrightwood but was still selling vacuums on the side. A thought struck me, what am I going to do with my life? To that I heard a small voice which said “What about Bible College?”. I knew that wasn’t my thought. I still hated the idea of going to Bible College. Still, somehow, I knew this had to be from God; since I didn’t think Satan would encourage me to go study the Word of God full time. Since I had decided to follow God, I knew I had to at least pray about this. I told God I would go to Bible College if He wanted me to, but secretly hoped that He wouldn’t make me. I found out the deadline for turning in my application, but time went by and it passed. “I guess you didn’t want me to go to Bible College God” I prayed. As I was driving to Murrieta a few days later I heard on the radio that the Bible College had extended their application deadline two more weeks. “Great” I thought…. God really does want me to go. The next week, with only one week left before the semester would start down there, I was driving down to Murrieta still resisting turning in my application. My sister had asked for a ride again to the Bible College and I had obliged. “You should go to Bible College” she said. Reluctantly I looked over at her and stated two things, “First, don’t get too excited, but I told God I would go to Bible College and second, I heard on the radio that they extended the application date. But I still don’t know if I am going to do it, so don’t get to excited; I am only praying about it.” She was sooo excited. The night before the last day of the new deadline I knew that I had to turn in the application, even if I didn’t go to Bible College, I at least had to do that. I called up some friends to get references and asked my Pastor if he could write a reference for me, despite it being last minute. I got everything together and drove down to Murrieta, it was a Friday (the last possible day I could turn it in) and school would start on Monday. During that drive I could tell you the exact spot that God changed my heart. I felt God change my desires to match His and as I surrendered to Him all of a sudden I had no greater desire in my life than to go to Bible College. I actually began to worry if I would get accepted or not. I turned in the application then spent the night at Audi’s house since I was down there. The next day I got a call from the Bible College saying I was accepted, I actually let out an audible yell of joy. I told the person thank you so much!!!! Two short days later I moved in. Talk about a change of directions in life!
I remember sitting on my dorm room bed when I first arrived just thinking, “Wow”, but it was a good moment, a moment I will forever cherish. Things had changed, my life had changed so much over the last four months, since I had told God I would follow Him. But it was a good change. I finally felt like I had a purpose in life and knew I was heading, for once, in the right direction. I was blessed with some of the best roomates ever, who were very gracious with me and helped me to grow and learn alot. There were lots of trials there, and I started to experience a lot of spiritual warfare. But it was there that the Lord first trained my hands to war, I learned to pray and fight in the Spirit and He taught me His Word, which I fell ever so in love with.
During my first semester of Bible College some of my friends were talking about going to an extension campus after the semester was over. They were talking about Peru and York, two places which seemed to mystify me at the thought of studying abroad there. When I heard about these campuses I told them that we should go apply for them and not long after we were on our way to the office to do so. Peru accepted me right away, but I never heard back from York. The semester ended and I went back home for the break. I was praying the whole time about where to go, or even if I should go back to Bible College at all. When I was about to go to Peru, I checked the junk mail of my email only to find that York had accepted me, I just didn’t know it. I told my Dad thats where I wanted to go, and within two weeks I was on my way. It wasn’t until I made this decision though that I remembered how God had given me a desire to be a missionary in England, way back when I heard about the King’s Lynn church plant.
Being in Bible College in York was amazing, and I grew so much. Right before I left for England I met a guy, I don’t remember his name, who told me to hang out with a guy named Luke. He said if I did I would grow a lot. When I got to York I met Luke and asked if he knew the person who had told me to hang out with him, he didn’t. Come to find out, Luke was in charge of the street witnessing team. Even though it sounded scary to go out and talk to people, who I didn’t know, about Jesus I knew God had told me to hang out with Luke; so I went with him. It was there in York that the Lord gifted me in evangelism, we would go out every week and talk to the people of the town about Jesus and many came to know Him. After the semester was over I returned home to California for the summer.
When I was in California I hung out with Dandy and some other friends; we spent most of the time going to the beach and having Bible Studies there or going hiking. It was blessed time of resting. While there though, I got to meet the Pastor who was going to Kings Lynn to plant a church. God knit our hearts together, and I wanted to go with him. His name was Vince Proffit, and he was the one who gave me the verse that later became my calling in Jeremiah 1. When I went before the leadership of the church to talk to them about going on the missions field they basically lectured me about how in the world would that happen. I guess they didn’t realize I was coming to them for help with that. My heart broke, and for the first time in years I cried. I cried right in front of them for a half hour. Then when I left I cried for an hour and a half in my car one street away from the church. The tears kept coming and coming, at first it hurt… but after a while it was a release and I was happy that I was crying. The Lord used it to break me though, and I am now thankfull for it. I was considering going to Chaffey Community College, and got accepted to it and was about to register. When I went there to register though I just knew it wasn’t right and decided to go back to York to finish Bible College. I always respect the advice of my Dad, partly because the Proverbs say it is wise to do so and partly because I know my Dad is wise. He encouraged me that he had a peace about me going back to Bible College. So back to Bible College I went.
I spent the next year in York, England, where I came to the conclusion that I wanted to be a missionary and serve the Lord for the rest of my life. But I knew that was a calling and wasn’t going to take that honor upon my self until the Lord called me to it. When I prayed for direction the Lord said wait. So I waited, and as I waited I finished Bible College. Then He gave me direction to go back home, despite my desire to stay in England. It was my own fault though, since I had prayed for the Lord to send me where He wanted me, and where I would grow the most and be used the most at. Back at home I began to struggle again in my walk, because I let an old sin back in. I told myself I would only do it once, but once I did it was hooked again instantly. It has been a battle against it ever since. I told people that if I didn’t return to England in three months then I had probably walked away from the Lord, but God had different plans and those three months have turned into three years. It was here (home and here is California) that the Lord gave me the opportunity to use the gift of teaching. I became the Jr. High Teacher on Thursday nights at youth group, and have loved every minute of it. At the same time the Lord taught me compassion, because I was failing and He was so compassionate to me. He taught me to be gracious to others and loving, because He was gracious and loving to me. The theological concepts I learned in Bible College became much more real things to me. The faithfulness of God is not just words to me now, I know it personally and intimately.
While here teaching the Jr. High class I was also going to a secular college called Chaffey in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. At first I didn’t want to go, but my Dad recommended that I do saying that it would expand my horizons. He was right. It did. Interestingly enough I found out that I love to study. God took a guy who hated school and failed most of his way in highschool, barely graduating, to becoming an honors student with a GPA of 3.98 at a institution of higher education. God freed me to think and use my brain (mostly just freed me from my laziness), when sin had only limited me before. One of my prayers in Bible College was that the Lord would make me a man who could fight with the left and the right, and shoot with the bow as well as swing with the sword, I meant this in a spiritual sense of course. Here in California the Lord grew me in the area of apologetics, and I started to attend the philosophy club and engaged in discourse with a variety of different people with different beliefs and ideas. In going to college the desire to be a missionary was always there, but fading. When asked my major I would always say theology and that I want to be a Missionary, but I began to give up on that dream since it seemed so impossible for it to ever become a reality.
While there at Chaffey I started to study Spanish and had a love and talent with it (Que bueno, no?). I knew that the Lord was helping me though, because I had tried to learn it before when I wasn’t walking with God but couldn’t. Now it was just sticking in my head. During this time I started to hang out with Phil Ojeda (a childhood friend), who also had a heart to be a missionary. We started to take those desires and pray together about the missions field. He had a heart for Ecuador, but I had a heart for England. I wanted him to go with me to England, but instead the Lord changed my heart to wanting to go with him to Ecuador. I talked to Zeke (my youth Pastor at the time) about going to Ecuador, who was surprised since he knew that I had a heart for England. Our church had planted a church in Ecuador a decade earlier and had been going back there for a week long trip, once a year, ever since then. I asked Zeke about going on the one week trip with them to Ecuador and he said I could go. Months later I was aboard a flight bound to the southern hemisphere. While there I was teaching left and right, even though I didn’t ask to teach that often, it just seemed like I had a place there and they had a need. They invited me to stay, but I had still been hearing ‘wait’ from the Lord. When I returned home I continued to learn Spanish and prayed about moving to Ecuador to be a missionary there. They wanted to start a Bible College there, so I was thinking of helping with that since they had invited me to do so. I waited another two years, all the while learning the lesson of being a missionary in my home country.
So you see, God has used bunch of seemingly small circumstances to lead me to the point of having a heart for missions and having a heart to serve Him with my life. It has been a long journey of sanctification (being set apart) and still is a journey, but I know my purpose now. I pray that God would make His calling clear and known to you, and that you would be willing to spend the time seeking Him to know it, even if that seeking takes years or days to know it for certain.
Stay tuned for our last and final installment of “Don’t Despise Small Things”, which I will be posting soon (I had ambitiously hoped to have posted it tomorrow, but it seems like you will have to wait till Monday). There are so many details in all this that I couldn’t hope to write them all for you, much less hope for you to care to read them, but the last two years have been some of the most defining and light-shedding years yet. I have to say that it was in those years of spending time at Bible College (2 years to be exact) that the Lord finally put roots down in my faith. These roots came from spending so much time with Jesus through studying His Word and prayer. I am so thankful that He brought me to the place of surrendering my all, His plans truly were better then I ever could have hoped to have done on my own.
Isaiah 55:5-11 “Surely you shall call a nation you do not know, And nations [who] do not know you shall run to you, Because of the LORD your God, And the Holy One of Israel; For He has glorified you.” Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. “For My thoughts [are] not your thoughts, Nor [are] your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper [in the thing] for which I sent it.”
© 2012, Matt Camphuis all rights reserved.