This is the follow up post to last Saturday's article by Cory Nikkel. The issue of how a man is called to preach the gospel is central to the beliefs of the Followers of Christ. The FOC has been waiting since 1969 for God to supernaturally call a preacher to lead their church.
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Cory Nikkel: from my last post , I left you with my “seeking” mentality to find more of Jesus whether it was in or outside of church. Before and after this process of discovery I was uniquely called by God to be a minister of his word for the advancement of his Kingdom, especially within the eighteen- to twenty-nine-year-old generation.
In high school I had a lot of success in athletics. I played varsity sports as a freshman and was scouted by colleges to be a top athlete in basketball, baseball, and football. Sports were my life. My sophomore year I broke my foot for the third time in my life and had to miss an entire football season. I was devastated. I remember being so mad at God I told him to f-off numerous times and didn’t want anything to do with being a Christian—it was his fault that I broke my foot, or so I thought.
One day after chapel I sluggishly crutched my way to Bible class and as I was about to enter, my theology teacher popped out, “Cory, what are you doing?”
“Sorry I’m late.”
This time shouting in my face, “Cory! What are you doing with your life? God has called you to be great among this generation and you are standing here flat-lined on your death bed! Rise! Become who you were meant to be!”
I was immobile, shocked, confused. But I knew then that all these tools that God had given me in my life were meant for a greater purpose, and I felt for some reason that it was for ministry.
For two and a half years in college I was the spiritual leader for many. I led Bible studies, worship services, spoke at churches, youth groups, and evangelized whenever an opportunity arose; but something wasn’t right. I was faking my spiritual life—I could walk the walk and talk the talk but nothing was real for me. I was lost in myself and the personal pleasures behind the scenes that I adored but the spiritual community I lived in couldn’t know about.
Little by little I lost my calling, my heart for ministry, and my spiritual life. It was then that God called me to drop out of college and go to Australia to do mission work. I battled with this for a long time. This meant I had to leave my football team which I was captain of, school where all my friends were, and the comfortable life I knew. But the persistence of God was unbearable, so I went.
While in Australia I found myself in the middle of a Eucalyptus forest, in front of a group of thirty-seven believers from seventeen different nations, being questioned by a man I just met about my life’s calling.
“Will you really let go of your desires to pursue God’s will, Cory?”
“I’m not sure if I can do that. How do I know what’s his idea and what’s mine?”
“It’s simple, will you stay here and do missions for the rest of your life if that’s what the Lord has called you to do?”
My mind raced as I thought of all the things back in Iowa that I wanted, needed, and didn’t want to leave. How could I give that up for life in missions? The inner battle continued and then God spoke to me, “If you have submitted your heart to me and only me, you will do whatever I ask you to do.”
It all made sense now, “Yes, I’ll stay and do missions if that is what God wants me to do.”
A big grin crossed the man’s face, “Good. The Lord told me this morning if you’d submit your life to him and deny what you want for yourself, he’d bless you to return home and equip you with gifts to rise you up as a leader in your generation.
It wasn’t a pretty process, but I’ve accepted the call. These two instances bring weight to God pulling me towards a ministerial vocation, but I also can’t deny the set of skills he’s blessed me with either. I have a natural ability for speaking, writing, and being creative. I thrive under pressure and being in front of crowds of people and the Lord has blessed me in those moments, too, almost as if to say, “Thank you for doing what I asked you to do.”
Os Guinness once wrote, “The secret of seeking is not in our human ascent to God, but in God’s descent to us. We start out searching, but we end up being discovered. We think we are looking for something; we realize we are found by Someone.”
This is exactly what happened to me. I searched for God and answers to the big questions of my life, but in that search he found me and planted me exactly where I need to be—preaching, writing, and equipping the children of God, especially the eighteen- to twenty-nine-year-olds.
I am twenty-three years old and being a minister is what makes sense to me. God called me to it and preaching as well as studying the Bible is what gives me the most joy; it is what fills me up and I long to do it day after day. I don’t always get it right and I’m learning a lot in this journey, but God’s unique call in my life is one that I will never be able to deny.