One of the greatest challenges anyone can face for God is missionary work in another country. Keith Tacey, who graduated from Gaylord High School, has willingly accepted that call from God and is working in Southeast Asia.  In this interview, he talks about moving to a new culture and the challenges which he has confronted there.

KJK:  Where did you grow up and how did you become a Christian?

KT:  I spent my early years in Bay City, Michigan, but I did most of my growing up in Gaylord, Michigan. Regarding my faith in Christ, I was baptized into the faith as an infant, and I grew up in the church. That being said, I didn’t take a full-fledged interest in my faith until my junior year of university.

KJK:  What led you to consider missionary work?

KT:  Ever since I can remember, my parents would take me out to do ministry with them. This including picketing in front of abortions mills among other things. During this time I met my parent’s good friends who I’ve been referring to as “aunt” and “uncle” ever since. My aunts and uncles regularly prayed for the children who were attending the ministry events, praying that God would give us a heart for missions. For the longest time I thought these aunts and uncles were a bit crazy, but I loved them.

Then, in my late teenage years, God answered their prayers as I finally had a heart for missions. For me, it was an easy choice. There are people all around the world who don’t know the Gospel, who don’t know Christ, and God had given me the skills and the mind to go love them and preach to them. As Romans 10:13-15 says, “For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?”

KJK:  How long have you been a missionary now? What made you choose that country?

KT:  I have been doing missions work since January 2009. I got my first passport 3 weeks before I graduated university, and I arrived in Southeast Asia, 2-weeks after graduation. I haven’t looked back since.

Originally, I was thinking I’d end up in a different country in Asia, but God had different plans for me. One of the aunts that had been praying for me to have a heart for missions had received an email from a friend of a friend here. There was an American Christian friend married to a local and they owned a language school in a country in Southeast Asia that I hadn’t given much thought to. I immediately set up a Skype interview with them, we prayed about it, and they invited me to join their work. It was a wonderful place
to get my start.

KJK:  What was it like adjusting to a different culture?

KT:  I went into it all brave and not afraid. That bravado lasted all of one intercontinental flight. The bravado quickly went away and was replaced by fear when I arrived in Singapore in a small airport hotel room alone and with no way to contact anyone. Thankfully, upon arriving at my destination, I was able to take some time settling in before I began my work. The first four months or so was a honeymoon, where everything was amazing and nothing could go wrong. Months 5-8 were rough, as I was suddenly fully aware of everything that was different, or that I didn’t like about the culture. I had to really ask God to help me renew my mind and refocus on why I was here. After that I settled in nicely, and as of today, I consider this country my home more so than America.

KJK:  What types of activities does your missionary work involve there?

KT:  Missionary work here includes: Free English classes based on faith-based questions; a home church that a friend and I started about seven years ago; inviting friends out for coffee and conversation, eventually sharing the Gospel with them and offering them bilingual bibles; community outreach via our community closet (“If you need something take something; if you have something leave something”) and other activities to build relationship with our neighbors. But it is certainly not limited to that.

KJK:  What have been some of the moments you have really rejoiced in your work there?

KT:  The work we do everyday is worthy of rejoicing. God has been so good to us and those we work with. However, the best story is when we were visited by some people we’d never met before. They were referred to my wife by a friend. They were looking to get a late term abortion, but they heard my wife was a nurse and may have other options for them. We counseled them for hours on having the baby and putting it up for adoption, and we also told them that we’d do everything we could to help them through this tough time financially, but they were concerned that the birth defects would be too much to handle.

While they arrived to our meeting determined to get a late term abortion, they left the meeting thankful for our time, but still leaning towards the abortion. On the way home, many Christian friends of ours were praying for this family. Then suddenly, the mom went into labor. They had the baby in the car on the way back home, and had to cut the umbilical cord with bamboo they had in their village. We immediately visited them, paid for their baby’s surgery to fix some birth defects, and shared the Gospel with them. They both put their faith in Christ that day.

As if that wasn’t good enough, we visited them four months later on the day of their father’s funeral. We shared the Gospel with one side of their family and the four oldest women, along with about five others became Christians that day. They started a home church in the village, and we sent a pastor to visit them every few weeks. They told us that keeping the baby was one of the greatest blessings of their lives.

KJK: What difficulties do you face?

KT: The biggest difficulty we face is connecting with Christians in America who have a heart for missions and want to come out and teach with us. We want more than anything for our entire staff to be a team of Christians, so we can work together in the classrooms and in the community. It’s easy to find people who love what we do, but it’s hard to convince them come out and do it with us.

KJK:  What are the needs of your ministry currently?

KT:  In addition to needing Christian teachers, we’d love to have a medical team (eye doctors, dentists, nurses etc.) to come out on a short term missions trip. My wife is an American Red Cross certified trainer, and she’s also a nurse. She’d love to lead a team of American volunteers. Also, we’d love to have short-term teams come work at our school and in our community. They could complete a project, run library and storytelling times with the kids, or join us for our annual Summer program. We accept volunteers year-round.

KJK:  Tell us about your family.

KT: My family consists of my beautiful wife, and our two boys (2 & 7 years old). We live at home with my wife’s parents. Dad doubles as our handy man and school security, while mom helps take care of the boys and takes care of the house. My wife and I run our school, and she also does professional CPR training and I do professional phonics training.

KJK:  Anything else you want people to know about your ministry?

KT:  We covet your prayers, and we’d love to hear from you, especially if you would ever consider coming to Southeast Asia to join our teaching team short term or long term. Please feel free to send any communication our way by emailing me at tesol@pm.me

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Kurt J. Kolka grew up in the small community of Grayling, Mich., near the forested AuSable River. After majoring in English at college, he began a career in writing and newspapers spanning more than two decades. In his spare time he creates a Christian comic strip, The Cardinal, which has a 28-year history of publication. He has also authored a book, “Bullying is No Laughing Matter” (Front Edge Publications, Ann Arbor, Mich., 2014) and is working on his first novel. Kurt and his wife Diane have been married for more than 25 years and have one daughter, Rebekah, and an overprotective dog, Alli. Of life, Kurt says, “Life is never dull with God at the steering wheel, but, man, does He have a lead foot!” More about Kurt and his musings may be found at www.betweenthepines.org.

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