Jennifer first became interested in missions as a young teenager. Her youth pastor took her to an M-Fuge camp for a week-long mission trip. During this trip she came to realize that her gifts and passion to serve the Lord could be leading her into full-time missionary service.
After graduating high school, she attended OBU and majored in Biblical Studies with an emphasis in missions. During college, she also had the opportunity to go to India for her first international mission trip.
By the time they went to India, Jennifer and Jason had started dating. So, Jason’s motivations for going to India were a little mixed:
I wasn’t about to let my girlfriend go halfway around the world to some foreign country without me!
Since he had never been to another country, he had many preconceptions about missions and missionaries. As he walked through the bustling New Delhi terminal to meet up with the American missionary, he began to envision what he would be like:
I pictured an older, middle-aged man in a black suit and tie, carrying a very large Bible, with a deep, booming voice. Obviously, he would be a ‘super-Christian’ and have a dazzling knowledge of the Bible and an impressive spiritual resume. But instead, I was greeted by a young 20-something guy in jeans and a t-shirt who looked, and acted, about like my other college buddies! He was…normal!
But he had an abnormal passion for missions. He once told Jason,
Many people think they need some special calling to get involved in missions. But we already have it—it’s called the “Great Commission!” God doesn’t want you to pray about going, he wants you to pray about staying where you are.
Despite his encouragement, Jason did pray about it—a lot! And over the next couple years, he became confident that God was calling him to serve in foreign missions. Jason and Jennifer married just before their senior year in college, and after graduating and moving around several times, landed in Louisville, KY for Jason to pursue a degree in missions and try to discern the details of God’s calling. (Read more about Jason’s spiritual journey here.)
At the seminary, they heard about an organization named Wycliffe Bible Translators. Recruiters with Wycliffe encouraged them to check out the organization. Jennifer was hesitant at first because Wycliffe is a faith funded mission agency. That means that each missionary is responsible for developing a team of prayer and financial partners for their ministry. Jennifer struggled with the decision:
I knew, of course, that God had provided for many other missionaries, but would he really provide for us?
Up until then, Jason had never even heard of Wycliffe Bible Translators. When recruiters from Wycliffe came to the seminary and spoke on Bible Translation, he was shocked by what he heard. The Wycliffe recruiters explained that of the almost 7,000 languages in the world, almost 2,000 languages had not a single word of scripture. Jason thought,
How could you ever hope to grow in your faith with Christ—or even come to faith in Christ in the first place—without God’s Word in your language?
It took Jennifer about two years to become really interested in Wycliffe. She did a lot of praying and she and Jason went to a week-long orientation called TOTAL It Up, sponsored by Wycliffe. After learning more and praying, by the end of the week, they knew that their gifts and desires lined up with Wycliffe’s needs.
Jason knew that he was one of the few weird people who enjoyed the Biblical languages, plus, he had a gift for language learning and enjoyed the analytical side of exegesis and linguistics. So, after hearing story after story of life transformation brought about through having scripture in the mother tongue, and hearing stories of the incredible need, Jason knew,
I’ve got to be a part of this!
Since making this decision, God has provided in amazing ways for them to apply and to join Wycliffe, thus confirming even more that this is the right direction for their family. By meeting these financial needs, he has shown repeatedly that he is trustworthy and can provide, even for them.