LinkedIn to Missions
After being laid off, Gary Sikma was discouraged. Despite networking and searching through internet job sites, Gary kept hearing that he was overqualified for positions. But on a Monday morning, he got an alert for a Chicago-area job posting with Wycliffe. Raised in a Christian home, Gary knew about the organization.
But as Gary explored the job posting, he realized the position was not in Chicago — or even the U.S.! It was in South Africa. Not only that, but the position required him and his wife, Ellie, to raise support.
“My first thought was, ‘How am I going to sell this to my wife?’” Gary recalled.
When Gary had taken a missions trip to Zimbabwe years earlier, he recognized that his skills in IT work were needed and warmly invited on the mission field. But though he had taken a short‑term trip, full‑time mission work wasn’t something he or Ellie ever pursued.
Now it felt like God was bringing the opportunity to him, and the Sikmas were open to following God’s call on their lives. The day after they submitted the application, the Sikmas received a phone call.
“Do you realize we are a faith-based mission?” the Wycliffe mobilizer asked.
“Yes,” Gary answered.
“Do you realize this job is not in the U.S.?”
“Do you realize you have to raise your own funds to be able to go?”
Once again, Gary replied, “Yes.”
With each question, Gary wondered if the mobilizer was trying to talk him out of the job. But in reality she just wanted to be sure the Sikmas knew what they was getting into. Once that was clear, the conversations continued.
With every step in the process, the Sikmas prayerfully consider the opportunity in front of them with recruiters from Wycliffe. The couple had discussions with others and even considered laying out a fleece before God, like Gideon did.
Shortly thereafter, the couple traveled back to their home church where someone they had never met preached a sermon on Gideon.
“Someone out here has a call,” the speaker said, “but they are using a résumé of excuses to ignore the call.”
It was the use of the word “résumé” that struck the couple, and made them believe God was speaking directly to Gary — the job seeker — and thus affirming their call to missions. The Sikmas became Wycliffe members in December 2017. They hope to be in South Africa by the end of 2018, where Gary will assume his new position as the administration manager for SIL in southern Africa.
“I wasn’t looking for mission work,” said Gary, “but God had one for me all lined up. He met me where I was — on social media. On LinkedIn.”