“GYC Mission Trip to Iceland,” read the title of the newsletter that showed up on my phone. This was ironic as I was (right then) in a foreign missions committee meeting from my church. I didn’t pay too much attention to it. No money, I thought, as I put my phone down. And I have a job, I can’t just leave. Little did I know that God wasn’t done yet with trying to convince me that He wanted me on this trip.
A few weeks later at my church a missionary spoke on foreign missions during the divine service. I had actually just walked out at the beginning of the sermon because I had something to do and ended up talking to a friend in the hallway. By the time I set foot in the sanctuary again I had missed half of the sermon. But just listening to the last part was enough for me to know that God was calling me to something very special: mission trips. I stayed after the service to pray with a small prayer group that got together every week and I asked God for wisdom about the Iceland trip.
As soon as I came home from church, I signed up. But not without a serious talk between me and God. You see, I would never go door-knocking when my church would do so. And they do it at least once a month, mind you. It’s just not something that I felt comfortable with. Well, comfortable is probably an understatement. It freaks me out, gives me anxiety, and makes my heart jump out of my chest. That’s a better way to describe my relationship with that type of evangelism. I am a cinematographer, photographer, and copywriter by trade, that’s how I do ministry. I am not someone who wants to be on the front lines knocking on doors. But sometimes you have to be radical for God. Sometimes He calls you somewhere and you have no idea why. Sometimes He calls you out of your comfort zone because He knows that that’s exactly where He needs you to be. Call me crazy, but I signed up. As soon as my thumb tapped confirm, all I could think of was: what in the world have I done? Yet I had a sense of peace, knowing that I was doing the right thing, that I was exactly where God wanted me to be.
The first day of the mission trip arrived and I was in the van on my way to knock on my first door. My heart was racing, my blood flooding my cheeks. I looked at my sheet with instructions over and over again, trying to memorize every single word that I had to say in case someone opened the door. I was the last one of my group to be dropped off. “Blessings”, the Aussie driver, Tim, said as I hopped off the van. His words became an audible blur to me, a faint whisper that was overcome by the sound of my throbbing heart as I set one foot in front of the other towards my first house. I rang the doorbell. No one opened. I left some Glow tracts in the mailbox. The next few houses were just as desolate as the first one. I secretly hoped that this would be the case for every single one of them. I could handle putting Glow tracts in mailboxes. If someone would come to the door I would just walk away as fast as I could, pretending that nothing had happened. Maybe they’d think those tracts had magically showed up on their doormat, or some alien had left it there as a message from heaven, calling them to repentance.
But then I heard the sound of footsteps and the squeak of a door. I looked into the eyes of an Icelandic local, me trying to smile as if it were possible to hide my nerves. With all the energy that my body could come up with, I pitched my invitation to prayer (probably sounding like a complete robot with how well I had memorized the lines) while wondering if he could detect the tremor in my voice. “No, thank you,” echoed his voice. There, he said it. My first rejection with many more to come. “That’s ok, here’s something to brighten your day.” At least he took the Glow tracts. And he hadn’t slammed the door in my face either the way I had expected everyone to. Off to the next door I went.
I only knocked on doors for one day and put Glow tracts in people’s mailboxes one other day. GYC needed my skills as a cinematographer and photographer to shoot some video and photos for them. It was a sense of relief yet at the same time a disappointment. I came on this trip because I wanted to overcome my fear and discomfort of knocking on doors. I wanted to see God use me despite my anxiety, weakness, and inexperience with any type of outreach like this. But then my mindset changed. God was able to use me in door knocking. He had given me two full days to turn my weakness into His strength. But the other days He needed me to do something nobody else in that group could do, which was to use media to reach future potential missionaries with the story of surrendering all on a mission trip.
Did I ever overcome my fear of knocking on doors? Not entirely. I’m still nervous just thinking about it and I’m sure when I do it again my heart will still plead with me to drop those Glow tracts right then and run away, so as to avoid a full-blown heart attack. But that’s the detail I want you to notice: “When I do it again.” Because I will do it again. Next time my church goes door knocking, I will be there. Heart attack or not, I know that God will be there to keep it in place, rejection after rejection, but also seed after seed that is planted, even if it seems unlikely. Even if no one seems interested, there will be seeds planted, despite my weakness and fear. If God can use a simple soul like me, what is preventing you from being used by Him too?
Danique Tersmette, USA
GYC Missionary to Iceland, 2019
Danique works at Wildwood Health Institute, an Adventist ministry, as a cinematographer, photographer, and copywriter. She is passionate about sharing the gospel through media.
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