If you’ve followed my journey through the blog or in personal relationship, you are aware of the young men I’ve been blessed to mentor since 2011. God has not asked of me to shed my pastoral vestments – nor do I believe He ever will – and this fathering ministry has blessed me to no end!
Joshua is one of the Lord’s young “lions” for whom I’m taking responsibility and I’ve been his pastor since he was a young kid. Ask him and he’ll tell you he loves me but that I bored him to tears and death with my hour-long homilies on Sundays all those years ago. Thankfully, all that has changed. I’ve learned how to say more in less time and he’s learned not to fall asleep.
Truly, Joshua is one of the most servant-hearted, respectful, and abandoned young men it’s been my pleasure to know. I’m having to accept the tough assignment of letting him go, however, but God has called and this lion is listening.
I’m glad to share my brother with you in this post. Pray for him as he moves now into a more costly and defined season of his life. I could not be prouder of this young man if he were my own son.
When did you first know that you were meant for the foreign mission field?
JV:As kids we dream about “what were going to be when we grow up”. Most kids say policeman or soldiers, but not me. When I was about four, I started telling everybody that I wanted to be an opera singing missionary. As time went on I dropped the opera singer part (Thank Goodness), and I eventually dropped the idea of being a missionary altogether. I became consumed by the “American Dream”. I wanted money, and an average life like everybody else instead of doing missions. I graduated high school and went to college with the goal to get a degree that will make me a lot of money.
After going to college I began smoking weed daily and became very complacent. I started skipping classes and eventually dropped out after a year. After dropping out, I realized that I was not where I needed to be with God and because of it my life was a mess. So I got a job doing septic work, and started to work on my relationship with God.
After working for the septic business I was presented with the opportunity to eventually take over the business. I thought my life was all planned, but God had other plans for me. After working for the septic company for a few months, I came in one morning as usual and just felt like I was doing something wrong. I couldn’t figure out what though. I prayed for about a week and finally I heard God. He told me I need to quit my job and go do mission work. It seemed so crazy at the time, but I felt like if I didn’t do it I was going to die. So I told God “ If my boss asks me how long I plan to work for him I’ll quit, right then and there”. And what do you think happened the very next morning? He asked that exact question.
So without even talking to a mission organization, I told him that in two months at the end of the year I was going to do mission work. Again, I quickly realized how crazy I was being. So I emailed the only mission group I knew: Frontline Missions. I got no reply for about a month; I started getting a little worried. Then about a week before Christmas I got a phone call saying they wanted to meet with me to talk. The interview went well and I started a one year internship.
Where have your mission exploits taken you?
JV: I spent one month in January/ February in Honduras; I spent a week in Honduras in April; I spent all of June and July in Honduras; and I spent two weeks in Guyana in November
You have been interning at Frontline for the past year. Tell us a little about Frontline and what this past year has meant to you personally.
JV: Oh goodness, this past year has been a learning experience! I have learned so much about different cultures, leadership, Spanish, people, and myself this year. I have learned what it means to be a servant. I learned what it looks like to live a life worthy of the calling. And most importantly, I learned a lot about God and who He is.
If you had your choice would you be a missionary permanently or as a part-time proposition? Could you picture yourself living full-time on a foreign field?
JV: If money was no problem I would do missions fulltime. I would go on trips all year round with Frontline Missions. I could even see myself living and serving in another culture, absolutely.
What has been the most difficult part of laboring on the foreign field?
JV: Learning how to help people without “American-izing” them. Often times when missions teams go into third world countries we try to do everything our own way, because we think it’s better. This past year has taught me how to respect the people we are working with. Instead of doing it our way we ask the people we’re working with how they do it. Often times it is more difficult but it helps us show the people respect, which helps build relationships.
How have you personally been challenged as you have taken the gospel to indigenous peoples?
JV: The most challenging part for me was learning to listen to God and his instruction. Usually my flesh argued with what God had to say. It was a real battle. There were times that God would tell me to do things that I didn’t want to do and it was tough to do them. But after I did what he said I felt such peace and joy.
In what ways have you personally witnessed the power of God as you have carried the gospel cross-culturally?
JV: Oh man, I have seen God show up this past year!!! I have seen a baby that had pneumonia so bad you could feel vibrations – like someone was scraping a wash board whenever she would breathe. We prayed and prayed and as soon as we were finished you couldn’t feel the vibrations anymore. I’ve seen the ‘shy and beaten down’ tribe of the Tolupan Indians rise up to the point where they were singing solos and preaching in their native language. There have been incredible things that couldn’t happen without God. I tend to be very skeptical about things, but I couldn’t argue with the things that happened.
What’s next for Joshua Vineyard? Going forward, where do you see yourself in the coming years?
JV:In the coming years I plan to do missions fulltime with Frontline Missions. I’m stepping out in faith and seeing what God does. If the Lord provides everything I need to keep doing mission work, then, that’s what I’m going to do. If he doesn’t provide, then I’ll brush the dust off my feet and seek where God wants me to be.