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CALLED: It’s More Who Than Where

The CALLED series is a collection of testimonies that highlight the amazing ways God prepares the hearts of his people for their role in the Great Commission. Through this series, Encompass World Partners, along with those who have offered their stories, hopes you will be inspired to prayerfully contemplate your own participation in making disciples of all nations.

Saul and Carol both grew up in Christian families in Southern California. Carol’s church often had visiting missionaries who brought with them inspiring stories of their ministry overseas. These stories inspired Carol, even when she was a little girl, and her feet were set on a path toward international service.

Saul was not so sure. He became a Christian at a young age, but cross-cultural ministry was not something he ever considered. By the time he got to college, he only really knew one thing: he wanted to do what God wanted him to do.

God was about to use Carol to help show him what that was.

Saul and Carol started dating in college. As they discussed what they wanted for the rest of their lives, Carol’s longtime passion for global missions played a big part. They began to pray about a potential path toward international work.

Early on in their relationship, God had already started to answer that prayer. Saul’s parents began attending the Grace Brethren Church in Simi Valley, and soon Saul and Carol joined them. Through the church, the two discovered Encompass World Partners, and Saul was led to an internship in Central Asia.

While in Central Asia, Saul worked alongside Encompass global workers Mickey and Shelly Bernard. The internship was exactly the exposure he needed to fuel his own excitement about global missions, and his relationship with the Bernards had a profound impact on his life.

After Saul and Carol were married, they faced the question of long-term global missions. They asked their family, friends, and church community for advice, and the answers weren’t clear. Some encouraged the couple to go overseas right away, some advised them to wait, and some said they shouldn’t go at all. With no clarity, Saul and Carol decided that waiting was the best option.

For the next five years, they built up their marriage, friendships, and skill-sets.

They became heavily involved with their local church and pursued further education, all while continuing to pray about a possible future in global missions. Among God’s answers were frequent visits from the Bernard family.

Mickey and Shelly Bernard were transitioning from their ministry in Central Asia to Southeast Asia. During that time, they lived in Long Beach, CA for one year and periodically visited Saul and Carol’s church. Having known Saul for a while and understanding the couple’s heart for global missions, the Bernards were very intentional in reaching out to Saul and Carol.

In the end, the Bernards asked Saul and Carol to join their team to Southeast Asia. Saul and Carol took some time to consider. They had never thought much about where they wanted to go, focusing instead on who they wanted to go with. The Bernards and their ministry vision felt like a perfect answer to that question.

After a time of prayer and counsel, Saul and Carol decided to take the Bernards up on their offer. They flew to the Bernard’s new home in Southeast Asia for a vision trip and came home with their answer confirmed. Yes, they loved the country and the people, but the defining factor in their decision was how much they enjoyed the Bernards and their team.

At each step of the journey, God’s people carried the answer to the path he had prepared for Saul and Carol.

They went through the process of preparing to go out as Encompass global workers, and their time of patient waiting for God’s direction gave them the close connection to raise support quickly from their church community and be sent out with a team that fits their strengths and interests.