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Leaving your heart on the field


“We were at a missions conference and the speaker asked if anyone was called to cross-cultural ministry,” remembers Steve. “I looked at my wife, and we both knew that God was calling us. Then the speaker asked anyone who felt called to come forward and make a covenant with God about serving. We went to the altar and began our journey as missionaries.”

Steve was serving as a pastor in California when he and his wife, Carol, attended that conference. A TMS Global missionary was the keynote speaker, so the Johnsons decided to check out the organization.

“When we joined TMS Global, we knew we were called to serve cross-culturally, but we did not have a clear sense that our call was to a certain place or a certain type of ministry,” said Steve. “We asked the staff to pray and decide where we should serve. The TMS Global staff members came back and said, ‘We have been praying for three years for a pastor with a strong marriage to go to Khabarovsk, Russia.’”

For the next 12 years, Steve and Carol served in Russia and South Asia, discipling pastors, pastor’s wives, and indigenous missionaries. Steve said, “I have poured my life out to do whatever I could to raise up strong leaders within the church.”

“I thought I would meet with women one-on-one and disciple them,” said Carol. “Instead, God had me leading conferences of 75 women at a time! The most fun part of cross-cultural ministry is the surprises God gives you. I never thought I could do anything like that, but Jesus enabled me to help women grow in their relationship with Him.”

“What I have learned is the best thing to do if you want to serve God well is to simply be open to whatever He wants to use you for, rather than to decide that you want His help in something you want to do,” reflected Steve.

“No one ever told me how hard it was to leave,” added Carol. “I had grown so close to the women I served among that I grieved deeply when we returned to California. You leave a piece of your heart on the field.”

Please pray for Steve and Carol as they retire in the US. If you feel called to serve cross-culturally, visit our Go page and learn more about our different terms of service.