Be careful who’s listening

When it became clear last fall that we would be leaving Kazakhstan soon, I started to look for jobs in the USA. It wasn’t an easy process because I was usually either under-qualified or overqualified. I got desperate and started praying more seriously about what God wanted me to do. He impressed on me that I should apply for PhD programs.

My wife had been looking into PhD programs for me for several months already, but I couldn’t muster much interest. A PhD program involves a lot of research, and that just didn’t get me up in the morning. My Kazakhstani colleagues were always trying to push me to do more research, which I avoided like the plague.

After I sensed the Holy Spirt leading, I didn’t act on it right away. We have a friend who calls herself a “reluctant administrator.” I was being a “reluctant academic.” I finally had to put my money where my faith was because applying for programs is neither cheap nor easy. There are test fees, transcript fees, and application fees. Plus there were long applications with questions like, “What kind of research have you done?” My answer in this section was awfully short, and I kicked myself for being so stubborn with my colleagues.

I only applied to “funded” programs. That is, programs that offer financial assistance through scholarships and/or graduate assistantships. (A graduate assistant is a PhD student who is paid to teach lower level classes.) I applied to three programs at public universities. Abby only found one Christian university with one large scholarship for one PhD student. Poor odds aside, I was excited about the program and decided to apply. It was at Trinity International University near Chicago, IL.

“If we get that scholarship, that’ll be a sign from God that we need to do that program,” we joked to each other. We didn’t bother to tell the Lord, but he was listening anyway.

After a lot of waiting, I got turned down for a promising program in Athens, GA. That left three, but if I was honest with myself, I really wanted the one in Chicago. I had applied to the other two because I was trying to be obedient to what God told me to do, not because I was overly interested in them.

I got a call a week and a half ago with the news that I was accepted at Trinity and that I was awarded the scholarship. Our words came back to us–it was our sign.

God has done his part in showing us the next step. Now we have to put actions to our faith and follow Him.


Lake Michigan family

Above: Our family visited the campus and Chicago area last week. Lake Michigan surrounded by snow in the background. We happened to meet a lady from Almaty, Kazakhstan coming up the steps from the frigid beach. Can I say it? It’s a small world.


4 thoughts on “Be careful who’s listening

  1. Jake and Abby! I am sooo happy for you! and proud!! This is Maira from Nicole’s page 🙂 Thank you lots for sharing this with me. Very excited for you ) Laughed at some of your phrases because I can see you two telling them so alive like at the dinner table in our old kitchen in KZ ) Miss you guys! Bless you, M.E.

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