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Bruce and Kate Dahlman, serving with Africa Inland Mission
July 17, 2015 7:49 pm
Published in: Ugali

“It’s so wonderful what you’re doing! But you know, I have to say that I just couldn’t do what you’re doing; I could never

  • Be a missionary
  • Move to Africa
  • Leave my family/job/friends/children

It would be too hard or impossible for me. But…it’s SO GREAT that God has called you to do this!”

We get remarks like this a lot.

We will inevitably hear some version of the above from someone, whenever we share our story about being medical missionaries to Africa. And now, with our anticipated and upcoming move back to Kenya, we are sure to be hearing it again.

And when we do, we will smile. And, we will thank these dear people, warmly, sincerely, generously, for their support, their encouragement, their enthusiasm, and their love for us.

Because, quite frankly, we need all of their support, encouragement, enthusiasm and love. These things help to sustain and enable us to leave the comforts of our wonderful community, friends, and family, once again. For all of these things (and more) that so many people freely give to us, we are indeed most humbly and truly grateful.

And yet…

A small part of us also perhaps cringes a bit, feels a bit sad, inside. Because, we also know something, have learned something over these years, these decades of moving back and forth across the world. Something that we don’t know if we would have ever known or learned as fully, had we stayed home and had not “done this missionary thing” that we’ve been doing for almost 25 years.

We would have missed out.

We would have never known His bigger plan for us

We would have missed seeing how

  • Faithful
  • Trustworthy
  • Real
  • Loving 
  • Big

That He is.

 We would have missed out on this incredible, round-the-world, crazy life that God has called and enabled us to live.

 I could have missed all of that.

 I (Kate)…I did not want to go. That first time, back in 1992, I did not want to go and leave my idyllic life behind: a perfect job, a lovely new home, a vibrant and loving church family, a community that embraced us, a place where we were putting down roots, establishing good and deep friendships, for us and for our children. My very own American dream of a life.

I wanted to “bloom where I was (firmly) planted”, and thank you very much.

Bloom Where You're Planted5

But…Bruce wanted to go. Bruce had felt a “call” on his life to follow Christ “wherever” from an early age; a call that had never wavered through college, medical school, or practicing medicine in a small town for eight years while we worked to pay off school loans.

And so, when the timing was right and the opportunity was there for us to make the big decision, the move which would begin his real, anticipated and longed-for life, Bruce was ready.

Kate was not; but she knew that this was how he was “wired” from the time she had first met him. She knew what she was signing on for when she agreed to marry this incredibly focused, extremely talented and amazing man. And she had agreed, at least in principle, to the idea of being willing to “go”. In fact, as a child and young adult, she, too, had felt the “tug” from God about perhaps following Him into a life of missionary service, should He ever choose to call her there (“your mission, should you choose to accept it….”).

I had an obligation to fulfill, with no real excuse; and so, reluctantly, I went. And that, my dear friends, just as in the poem by Robert Frost*, has made all the difference

Had I stayed, I might have not learned:

  • How quickly God moves when He wants something accomplished;
  • How, when you give up something for God, He gives it all back, in ways you couldn’t possibly have anticipated (we call these “missionary secrets”)
  • How He works to meet the deepest, most secret fears and worries you have about yourself or your children
  • How much He cares about those things; and how trustworthy He is, with all of it.

And so…I get it. I truly do. When people come up to us now and say things about not being able to “do what we do”. I know; I understand; I’ve been there.

But…what I really want to say is this:

Don’t miss your life.

If you have ever felt that tug/pull/call from God, if He has been calling you somewhere, please don’t miss out.

Don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you from following what you believe God has called you to do.

Don’t be content to live in the shadows of an ordinary, lamp-lit life when the full color sunshine is out there, just around the bend, over the next horizon, with your name on it.

Just do it….just take that road less traveled, and experience a fullness of life that you can’t even imagine is waiting for you right now.


He is also there, waiting for you.  And that makes all the difference.

*”The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost (1920)



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