The treasurer of the Euro-Asia Division waved me over. “There’s someone I want you to meet,” he said. I walked over to the pew where he stood. We were waiting for a Sabbath afternoon concert to begin in a Moscow church.
“This is Andy,” he said, addressing a stranger next to him, adding my title and the name of the newspaper where I work. Turning to me, he said, “This is Charles Sandefur, president of ADRA.”
My heart raced. This was an answer to my prayers: an encounter that could lead to a full-time job in the church. I tried to sound casual. “If I can ever do anything in writing or editing, just let me know,” I said as we swapped business cards.
Just a few months earlier I had wanted to quit my job and enroll in the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University. After giving my heart to Jesus, I didn’t want to spend another minute engaged in any work other than the Lord’s. But after prayer and consulting with my parents, I reluctantly realized that Jesus wanted me to stay in Russia.
Then I met Sandefur, then president of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency. My networking instincts kicked in, and I began to envision a new life of service in central Asia—or maybe Kenya.
I sent Sandefur a follow-up e-mail a few days later and received a gracious reply. Then silence.
Disappointed, I fired off three or four articles to the Adventist Review. More silence.
Months passed. One day an e-mail arrived from a longtime friend of my father’s who plants churches in India. He wrote that he had put in a good word for me with Dale Galusha, president of Pacific Press Publishing Association. Galusha was waiting for an e-mail from me.
This must be the answer to my prayers, I thought. “Bob Robinson wrote me that he met you at a camp meeting in Missouri recently and suggested that I send an e-mail to see whether I could contribute in some way to Pacific Press,” I wrote in an e-mail, tacking on a list of my qualifications.
In the subsequent exchange of e-mails, I learned that Pacific Press had no immediate openings, but Galusha promised to keep my résumé on file.
I waited expectantly for about half a year. Silence.
So I didn’t pull out my business card right away when Howard Faigao, Publishing Ministries Department director at the General Conference, visited my Sabbath school class. But my heart beat a little faster after I found out who he was. Learning that I was a journalist, Faigao asked, “Do you work for our church here?”
“No,” I said, prepared to promote my work experience and offer a business card. But the conversation ended there.
I felt miserable. God seemed to be providing opportunities to network my way into a church job. But I remained at a secular newspaper. I prayed.
One morning while reading the Sabbath school lesson, I realized with a jolt that my approach was unbiblical. Peter and Andrew, who first met Jesus at the time of His baptism, didn’t leave their jobs until months later, when Jesus called them. John and James also quit their jobs only at Jesus’ call. The same holds true for Abram, Saul, and David. “You did not choose me, but I chose you,” Jesus told His disciples (John 15:16).
Jesus calls His disciples; they don’t call themselves. “Jesus, I give up,” I prayed. “I’ll wait for You to call me; and I’ll serve wherever You want.”
A few minutes later I switched on my computer to check my e-mail. A letter was waiting from the Adventist Review. A story I had submitted long ago would soon be published. I bowed my head with a prayer of astonished gratitude.
The Review article led to a cover story and culminated at year’s end with an invitation to write this column.
I still don’t have my dream job. But that doesn’t matter. My current work is exactly what Jesus has called me to do. That makes it the best job in the world.
Andrew McChesney is a journalist in Russia. This article was published February 24, 2011.