Published by Calvin Seminary
We have all heard it said that God works in mysterious ways. Often the saying can seem like a cop-out used to avoid reflecting more deeply on God’s ways in our lives. But when I reflect on my story, I believe the saying is an appropriate description. Here’s why:
The first mystery was my landing at the University of Arizona to pursue an advanced degree in Chinese History. I knew nothing about Arizona, other than that it was hot and far away from home (Holland, MI). For eight long years I was in Arizona, making up undergraduate courses, earning an MA, and laboring on a PhD that never did get finished. I had to settle for an “All But Dissertation” status.
Armed with my ABD in Chinese history and saddled with a not insignificant amount of debt, I returned to Holland with my family. Finding a job in any way related to my field proved to be impossible at the time. My wife, with her infinitely more practical degree in accounting, found a job with no trouble. So for the next eight years or so, I was sometimes a stay at home dad, other times working in more or less temporary jobs.
The second mystery was finding myself at Calvin Theological Seminary in 1993. For several years I had been feeling more and more drawn to ministry. The mystery of that is that I (and probably everyone who knew me) did not consider myself “seminary material.” I was introverted and quiet. I did not feel comfortable speaking in public. My worst grades in high school and at Calvin College were in speech classes. I was too old—over forty. I could not afford the time or cost. And so on. But I did go to seminary, and I did make it through. And Calvin Seminary gave me a solid foundation, biblically and theologically.
And then the third mystery happened. One summer day in 2005, when I was serving a church in Lynden, WA, I got a phone call from Christian Reformed World Missions (but really from God). They said they had an opening in China and asked if I would be interested. What a question! I was trembling, but calmly told them I would discuss it with my wife. Of course we went. And for ten years we experienced the mysterious miracles of God over and over.
One more mystery. One day I found myself sitting in an office at Calvin Seminary with my name outside the door. I took a picture. I am honored to be here and to be teaching a class about the church in China. My goal is to get to know all the students and to talk with many of them about missions. miracles, and mysteries.
By Missionary-In-Residence Wayne TenHarmsel
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