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Letting Go: A Missionary's Story of Faith, Stubborness, and Stumbling Forward Part I
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By Jacob Paul

Jacob Paul (above, in the checkered shirt) is a regular contributor to Christian Life in London Online. As a lover of the cinema he has been providing us with regular movie reviews from a Christian's perspective. Jacob is a full-time missionary in Armenia, Quindío Colombia so for the next few editions Jacob has accepted out request to tell our readers more about himself and his work in Armenia.

My name is Jacob Paul. I am a full-time missionary in Armenia, Quindío Colombia. And this was not my original plan. When I was about five years old, I wanted to be a fireman. Aside from my Asthma and smoke allergies, it seemed like a solid life plan at the time. My ideal job possibilities changed over the years from fireman to History/English teacher, but never included the idea of Missions. Probably due to the fact that I believe mission work is not really a job description, but who I am as a Christian and an outward reflection of Jesus' reign over my life. Basically: You don't have to go thousands of miles away when you can love your neighbour where you are. I think it's more based on where you feel called and for me that was here in my new homeland of Armenia.

Getting me here probably gave God a headache, or who knows, maybe he enjoyed the nine years it took for me to actually get me to let go of my own dreams and align them with His. The story of how I actually made it here spreads over about 25 years of my 31 years of life here on this planet, so summing it up in just 500 words should be a breeze. Let's do a timeline summary to give you an idea of how I ended up living in another country. This is mostly from memory, so some of the ages/dates will be approximate and relatively low on details, but here it goes anyways:

1987-88

I was 5or 6 when I first met Ruben Ramirez (now the pastor of Iglesia Cristiana Shalom, which is the church I work with) who was studying in Canada. He was supported my local church (Village Green Community) in London, Ontario and became a close friend of our family. I always looked forward to his visits.

1988-2000

Big jump, I know, but this is a summary. Ruben married a Canadian (Beverly) and they moved back to Colombia to serve. They moved from Medellin to Armenia and founded Iglesia Cristiana Shalom (www.iglesiacristianashalom.com). They remained close with me and my family over the years, all the while trying to convince me to come "visit", which was really a code word for "stay". In 1999, there was an earthquake and their church, along with many other buildings in the city was destroyed. My parents went that summer with a group from to Toronto to help the community rebuild. They found a new piece of land and began again from nothing. In 2000, my parents decided to take a team from our church to continue to help with the rebuilding project. I, being 17 at the time, was not having it. I wanted my parents to go away, so that I could have a great time being at my house with just my brothers and no parents. That was my idea of a great summer. God's idea was even better.

Long story short, I went because another teenager was going on the trip as well and my hold out reason had been that there was no one my age going. That trip changed everything. I met four guys that would remain friends even though that was the age of dialup modems and the 10 minutes they took to send an e-mail.

2000-Present Day will be covered in the second part of my Missionary origin story. I had hoped to cram it all in for you, but alas, it proved too difficult. Stay tuned for Part 2 that includes me not so much running away from God's call as delaying the inevitable. Faith and trust are so hard sometimes.