Call and Response

Call and Response

Throughout the Bible, the Lord called people to make disciples of all nations with the spread of the gospel. His callings were unique – Moses heard the Lord speak through a burning bush. Samuel heard the Lord say, “This is the one,” so he anointed David. Paul received a vision of the Lord sending him away to a different people group. 

For some missionaries, like the Bagleys and Randall Freeman, a calling into global missions sounds like a direct voice from the Lord. For others, like Linda Freeman, it might look like a simple willingness to follow wherever the Lord leads. 

The Lord uses our experiences to shape our hearts for service – He uses everything, and no season is put to waste. 

Mary Beth Bagley, Global Partners missionary kid care specialist, grew up in South Africa as a missionary kid (MK). Through substitute teaching, the Lord guided her to teach MKs in Central Asia. 

Mary Beth Bagley spoke of how growing up, she wanted to be a teacher and how her call to global missions opened doors for the Lord to move. 

“I remember God whispering in my ear, ‘What if I asked you to speak for me?’ And I remember thinking, ‘Well, I’m shy and quiet, and I don’t know how I would feel about that,’” Mary Beth said. “I knew that I didn’t want to tell God ‘no.’ So eventually, I said, ‘Okay, God, yes, whatever you want me to do, I’ll do that.’” 

 Her experience growing up as a missionary kid in Africa shaped her heart in caring for other missionary kids, spread throughout the world. Mary Beth served in Central Asia for two and a half years before returning to America to serve as Global Partners’ Missionary Kid Care Specialist. 

Mary Beth, Brenda & Bob Bagley, 2018

Before transitioning to her current role, Mary Beth said she wrestled with discerning where God was calling her, as both avenues seemed like really good ways to support missionaries and their kids. While working through her decision, she said she felt like the Lord was repeating Himself throughout scripture and messages to lead her to what was next. 

Her parents, Bob and Brenda Bagley (who are recently retired GP missionaries) served in Swaziland and South Africa for multiple terms. Through their story, we see that in serving, sometimes the Lord calls us back to the United States, but relocation is not an abandonment of God’s mission.

“I just felt like God was saying, ‘it’s okay to leave and to do something different, just follow wherever the Spirit’s leading…it’s okay to move on, to follow wherever I’m leading,’” she reflected. 

Her parents, Bob and Brenda Bagley (who are recently retired missionaries) served in a couple of locations in Africa for multiple terms. Through their story, we see that in serving, sometimes the Lord calls us back to the United States, but relocation is not an abandonment of God’s mission. 

Bob spent a few of his teenage years in South Africa, where his parents served as missionaries. While he was in Africa, he received a call to missions that changed the trajectory of his life. 

“I think of myself as having a call to missions the same as I have a very clear call to vocational ministry, which happened during my senior year of high school,” Bob said. “When my wife and I were in college, we were visited by people from what was Wesleyan World Missions back then, who had talked to us about whether we’d be open (to serving), and we thought, ‘yeah, we’d be open to go wherever God sends us.’” 

Bob and Brenda later served in Swaziland and then South Africa for multiple terms before shifting to do administrative work with GP. 

“I would say I have a very clear call to ministry and the location of that has been more of a matter of leading over time,” Bob said. “So when he led us to ministry here in the United States, it doesn’t feel like we’ve abandoned our call… ” 

The Freeman family, near the beginning of their service in global missions.

While serving the Lord cross-culturally brings incredible opportunities, the process starts with simple obedience to what He has placed on our hearts. Randall Freeman experienced a call to global missions at five years old and obeyed the call, which eventually led him to serve in Papua New Guinea. 

“As a kindergartner, I announced to my mother that God had called me to be a missionary,” Randall said. “And I didn’t have a Damascus Road experience or anything like that. It wasn’t bright lights and audible voices, but it was just an abiding conviction that I’d never want to get away from.” 

This calling served as a standard for Randall as he matured and began to date – he knew he did not want to abandon the conviction God placed on his heart. 

Linda & Randall Freeman

“It was during our freshman year and probably within the first two or three weeks, I took her (Linda) on a cheap date, but it was on the way home that I announced to her that I’d had a call to missions since I was five,” Randall said. “… she kind of let me know that she wasn’t interested …” 

Soon after, Linda Freeman discovered that while she did not have a distinct call to missions, she was willing to move whenever the Lord directed her. 

“When I knew that Randall was going to be a missionary, God helped me to be willing to also go,” Linda Freeman said.

The Freemans then served for 25 years in Papua New Guinea where they raised their children, followed by 15 years serving as Wellness Coaches for the Turkic-Arabic Area. 

The Lord calls His people in beautiful ways, each unique to our own personal convictions and experiences. 

*Cover Photo: Five newly appointed missionaries in 1981. Bob and Brenda Bagley sit in the front of the photo.