Walking by faith is risky and filled with paradoxes, something that Jesus’ disciples certainly felt. They simultaneously experienced miracles, hunger, fellowship, derision, provision, threats, healing, weariness, breakthroughs, great loss, and great love.

Just like the disciples, Jesus beckons us to take risks with him.

Brethren in Christ U.S. World Missions’ history is filled with women and men who responded to God’s call even when it was risky. We recently met with four households who have been taking those risky steps for decades, repeatedly saying “yes” to Jesus. Whether married, single, or as families with children, these individuals remind us that God’s invitation to join his work in the world stands – regardless of age, status, or limitations.

B. and M. B.

Spain, 1988-present

Asturias, Spain

As newlyweds and recent college graduates, the Bs followed God to Madrid, Spain, expecting a 3–6-year ministry commitment. They quickly discovered that the Spirit was asking them to invest their entire lives in the Spanish Church.

As their work began, they learned that when God calls, the Spirit equips. God used their weaknesses to open paths of connection to others. Humble service and hospitality overflowing from their passions pointed people to Jesus, and a network of churches grew as the Lord brought key people into the ministry team.

In 2020, after thirty-two years in Madrid, the Bs once again said “yes” to God and left their beloved church family for Asturias on Spain’s northern coast. This move, too, involved risk. Now as business owners in a small town, they strive to extend the Kingdom through intentional and organic discipleship.

Mike and Lori Cassel

Mexico & Guatemala, 2005-present

Mike and Lori (right) with pastoral family in Mexico, 2015

In the late 90’s, the Cassels had three children, steady jobs, and were involved in their local congregation. A hurricane relief trip to Honduras was the eye-opening experience that initiated their journey of discovering God’s heart for the world, and other believers walked with them through their discernment process. They connected with people from different cultures, joined additional short-term trips, and eventually attended Bible school to expand their knowledge base. They fondly remember World Missions staff helping them explore potential locations, and in 2005 they deployed to Mexico.

The journey was often discouraging. Some doors were closed, and they discovered that language and cultural adaptation were going to be lifelong learning processes. Yet as challenges came, God repeatedly displayed his faithfulness and helped them to grow. As Jesus called Peter, the fisherman, to be a fisher of men, Mike, the carpenter, learned to build the living church. The Cassels took risks (eventually relocating to Guatemala) and learned to be adaptable by being church planters, pastors, worship leaders, and mentors for developing local leaders. They continue to follow, motivated by seeing people open their hearts to Jesus.

Kris G.

Southeast Asia, 2004-present

A local leader baptizes a new believer in Southeast Asia.

“A moving boat can be steered.” These words from a trusted mentor came at a pivotal moment as Kris discerned God’s call in her early thirties. A teacher from eastern Pennsylvania she had a natural interest in people of different cultures, encouraged by many short-term trips and the exchange students her family hosted. Through those experiences, she felt God drawing her to go to the nations.

Her mentor’s words motivated her to continually step forward, even when unsure of where or in what role she would serve. She discovered that God often uses our vocations – which in her case was teaching literacy – to open doors for natural ministry. What began as an organic connection of teaching English expanded in countless ways as God led her into deep relationship with others and with him. Those steps were sometimes scary. They drew her away from self-reliance and drove her to dependence on Jesus. Kris can now look back and see how God used her humble steps of faith to grow a young church in Southeast Asia.

Doug and Barb Miller

Malawi, 2000-2023

Doug and Barb Miller

Moving from God’s initial call to actively living it is a process that can take time; the Millers found that God prepared them gradually for a burden to share Christ with unreached people groups. Cross-cultural ministry experiences as young adults led to pastoral training in Guatemala, which encouraged them in their congregation in Pennsylvania to pray for God to be known throughout the world. Praying as a family of seven about this call on their lives led to intentional study and preparation for the next step. Their local church family and larger BIC church body helped them to discern where they may be able to serve; and in 2000, they deployed to Malawi.

Their years in Malawi were not always easy; a devastating bicycle accident left Barb wheelchair-bound and significantly changed their lives. But now, the Millers celebrate 27 active fellowship groups that have been introduced to Jesus through chronological Bible studies and continue to meet. The Millers retired to the U.S. in 2023, but Doug and Barb can look back at these decades and joyfully say it was the most gratifying time of their lives. The reward of following Christ far outweighs any sacrifices they made.

Risky faith looks different for each person.

Is God calling you to leave the comfort of the familiar? Do you feel the Spirit’s nudge to take a step outside of others’ expectations? Maybe the Lord is leading you to give generously or to release someone you love to follow God’s call. Whatever the cost, these stories of risky faith remind us that in God’s kingdom, risky faith produces joy and long-lasting fruit.

May God be leading you cross-culturally? Here are six ways to discern and prepare.

  • Grow in intimacy with God: all ministry needs to flow from that relationship
  • Invite mature believers to join you in the discernment process
  • Learn through short-term service opportunities
  • Connect with local international students, refugees, and immigrants
  • Practice simplicity in possessions and finance
  • Engage in World Missions’ Missionary Development Community

This article was originally published in our 2023 Annual Report.

Kara Kacmar is a musician, teacher, wife, and mom of two who lives out her faith intentionally wherever God leads her. For the last 14 years, that has been in Spain. Kara and her family recently moved back to Ohio and are enjoying reconnecting in worship and community building with Fairview BIC, her home church. Kara enjoys using her love of communication and connection to build bridges between people who would not naturally cross paths. When not making music, getting together with friends and family, or baking a sourdough creation, Kara can be found happily occupied in her garden.

Share this Story