I travel a lot and meet lots of people. Inevitably, conversations turn to "Did you always want to be a missionary in Africa?" My heart smiles before answering as my mind races through over four decades of chasing success, status, and wealth. "No, not really."
But a more complete answer would include, "Not until I met Jesus."
During college, I started working in a mailroom for Merrill Lynch. It wasn’t long until I became one of the youngest stockbrokers hired at a major Wall Street firm. By the time I was thirty-five, my business partner and I had built a multimillion-dollar business. I had obtained the dream I had been chasing.
Then, it all changed. My partner wedged me out and took over the business. It seemed like the worst thing to ever happen to me. But it turns out Jesus was knocking on the door of my heart and getting my attention.
At age forty-six, I was baptized. Seven months later, God sent me on a short-term mission trip to Africa that would change my life and give me my true purpose. For the next fifteen years, I spent my life helping children and their neighbors who live in a dumpsite. God has made me a new person with a new heart, and He is teaching me how to love people society has cast away.
Now, our rugged community of 15,000 calls me "Daddy Dave," a term that made me uncomfortable at first because I didn't understand the meaning; now I know it means,
"Hey, I love you. Thank you for nurturing me on the path to becoming who I want to be."
Today, my wife and I continue to serve the people Jesus puts in front of us in Africa and around the globe. And now, I write and share real stories about real people in real situations and how a real God loves them.
I am passionate about making everyone feel welcome into the body of Christ—no matter who they are, what they have done, where they live, or anything else that makes them feel unworthy.
In addition to these things, my greatest joys are being a child of the one true King, a husband, a father, and a grandfather.
So, no. I didn’t always want to be a missionary in Africa. But I’m grateful God called me and put me in some interesting situations to grow my heart and now to share those stories with you.
I wonder how He will speak to you through these experiences. Let’s find out!
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