Kim and Ed Nichols, former pastors at Culver Church of the Nazarene, are headed to Guatemala City, Guatemala, beginning this summer to serve as facilitators for mission teams sent there from other places.
The couple said that they attended a regional "Work and Witness" conference through the church in the fall, since they both serve on the district missions council.
"We were just going because it was part of the job," Kim said. Neither one of them had any desire at the time to move to another country to serve.
Missionaries from around the world were given a chance to speak, and as someone else was going up to share, Ed said the missionary from Guatemala stood up and let everyone know that he was in need of help.
"We were in a different part of the room at that time," Ed said. "And it's like God said, to me 'You're going there.'"
"It's like you're up to bat," he said, "and someone threw a football."
"And what do you do with a football?" Kim said, "You catch it, and you run."
The couple then spent several months going through the process required in the Church of the Nazarene to become missionaries, which included going through some training and doing an interview to decide where they may be best suited to serve, so while they wanted to end up in Guatemala, there was a chance that they would get sent somewhere else.
"Part of that was, 'We know your interest in Guatemala, but if we find someone for that before then, would you be interested in going to Africa of the Asia Pacific region?'" Ed said.
"We looked at each other and went 'Yeah,'" he said.
"It took a split second to make eye contact and make sure we weren't talking over the top of the other person," Kim said.
In the end, the couple, who will be celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary in May, were told they would indeed be going to Guatemala.
When they told their congregation in Culver, the response was a "Be our pastors as long as you can" type of sentiment.
The couple were officially done serving the church March 1 and were supposed to be traveling to churches across their district for several months to speak and raise money for their new venture. However, much of that is on hold at the moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic and recent restrictions from Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.
"It made us ask questions of 'Maybe we are going in June,'" Kim said. "Are we going to be able to travel out of the country? We don't know."
Right now the couple is scheduled to travel to Guatemala in June, and as soon as they get there begin hosting youth teams short-term mission trips.
"But if the coronavirus is still very active by then, that could all fall apart," Ed said.
"It's something different between adults deciding to travel anyway and parents sending their kids," Kim said. "So we don't know. Two weeks ago, we knew."
The couple said that in the end, it's up to God to make what is supposed to happen, happen.
"God will do something," Kim said.
Which gets at why they are doing what they are doing.
"About the only thing I could really tell people is it's kind of a God thing," Ed said. "It's no different than what our call was as far as being pastors."
He gave an example describing a friend of his who thought he was called by God to be a pastor and spent six years in school pursuing that. He then determined that God called him to be a police officer. "He would say, 'God calls us to do different things, and they are all his call, and he is going to use us all in those places,'" Ed said.
"We had a lady say, 'Well, you know Madras and Culver is a mission too.' Yes, it is, the whole world is," Ed said.
Kim put it another way, saying, "We are all called to be on mission, it's just a matter of where."
For the Nicholses, right now, that means an indefinite stay in Guatemala.
Kim quoted John Wesley, who said: "The world is my parish." She said, "Wherever you go, there you are, wherever you are, there you love, and there you serve."
"God is the one we follow first," Ed said. "Unfortunately, we as Christ-followers in the United States don't model that very well."
"We came here (to Culver) because God said you need to be here," he said. "That's what it means to be a Christ-follower," being where he calls you to be.
"We went into it thinking 'maybe,' and now we can't think of doing anything else," he said.
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