By Makenzie McNeill, Staff Writer/Stewardship Assistant
I was sitting at my kitchen table in my small one-bedroom apartment, anxiously tapping my fingers as I waited for the call.
The clock was slowly counting down the moments until I would be having my Skype interview with Village Missions’ Director of Stewardship, Tim Griffiths.
Addressing Misconceptions About Rural Christianity
In preparation for my interview, I had devoted countless hours to learning as much as I could about this ministry. I had by now accepted the reality that if my ideas about church and missions were not wrong, then they were certainly misinformed – or just simply lacking. I had some serious misconceptions about rural Christianity.
I had grown up in a small town of about 2,000 people. Within the city limits, there were approximately 20 churches. I could have contributed this saturation of churches as merely a factor of living in the Bible Belt.
However, I realized that I had mistakenly assumed that this was mostly a result of living in a rural community.
So, I unwittingly figured that all small towns across the U.S. were just like mine – containing an abundance of churches, and therefore, already evangelized.
Yet, each story I read from these Village Missionaries continued to contradict this preconceived notion that I had held for so long. Because I believed that rural areas were the most Christianized places in our nation, I also unchallengingly believed that urban or overseas missions were the most important and pressing in modern times.
The fact that hundreds (I found out later, thousands) of churches right here in the U.S. were struggling to remain open completely baffled me. I was so accustomed to living in places where the churches were plentiful, and the pastors were certainly not in short supply. I thought all of the U.S., especially small towns, were exactly the same.
Looking Outside the Bible Belt
I had never considered the spiritual condition of North America outside the Bible Belt before. The Across the Nations video on VM’s Vimeo Account really threw me for a loop. The dilapidated, abandoned churches made me confront my ignorance, and perhaps my bias, as well, that rural communities were struggling to maintain a gospel presence there.
Rural North America–a mission field. Never before had that idea, or combination of words, ever crossed my mind. But, now they had. I had unearthed a mission field that probably not many people–especially in my neck of the wood–knew about. If this was truly the ministry work that the Lord was calling me to do, I knew I still had a lot to learn. And a lot of time to be spent in prayer. After hours of reading and studying each day, I felt that I had absorbed an adequate amount of information to speak comfortably and confidently about the work of Village Missions in my interview.
I decided to come into my interview with complete honesty – that I had never heard of Village Missions before, I had no idea what rural ministry was, and I was absolutely unaware that there was even a problem in small towns right here in our own backyard.
Now, the time had finally arrived for me to have my first interview. A little nervous, but mainly curious, I finally saw the Skype icon pop up on my screen to inform me that I was receiving a call.
I took a deep breath and accepted the video chat.
Here I go!
The call lasted about 45 minutes. I closed my laptop, feeling confident in the conversation that I had with Tim and James, the Staff Writer for VM at the time.
We had a very good talk that journeyed from my testimony, my experience with writing, and what exactly rural means to me.
(I later discovered that I had been interviewed on a 40-inch TV screen. So the thought of my face being plastered across a very large surface–and therefore, parts of the very cluttered kitchen I was trying to hide from view were also visible – was a little unnerving!)
My final question to them was when I would be notified about the next step in the interview process (because everything else was moving so unconventionally fast, I felt obligated to inquire about this part of the procedure, as well).
Tim assured me that it would be by the end of the week.
Perfect, I thought. I have a few days to relax before I hear back. Sounds like a plan.
One Last Glance
The rest of the day passed by as usual. I returned back to work, and then ended my day by watching some political debates (because nothing is as soothing and relaxing as watching opposing politicians fiercely scream at each other about economics).
Finally, I felt the gentle pulls of exhaustion start to work on me. Just as I was preparing to catch my recommended 8 hours of sleep, I decided to enact my nightly routine of checking my phone messages and email.
I found my phone, and, to my surprise, I did have a new unread email at the top of my screen. And it was from Tim Griffiths.
My heart started to pound like a war drum in my chest. Only hours had passed since our interview – this wasn’t the end of the week! I immediately opened up the email and started to keenly read the message.
To my absolute, utter astonishment…
….I had been offered the job.