Eight-year-old Gay Brantley was stirred by the pictures on the screen at First Assembly of God in Scott City, Missouri. A missionary was showing his slides of the Otavalo Indians in Ecuador and little Gay’s eyes filled with tears. She felt a tug in her heart and sensed the voice of the Lord quietly speaking to her, “Someday you will go to the Otavalo Indians.”
Gay actively served God for years, working in her church’s Sunday School and as a youth leader. After high school, she remembered the Spirit’s whispered promise and was thrilled to visit Ecuador for the first time with a youth team. After this trip, Gay began an academic career, first as a student, then an instructor, all the while thinking about a future life as a missionary in Ecuador.
Meanwhile, a young John Davis met the Lord at a youth camp but with no follow-up, soon drifted away. Miserable for over two years, he returned to Christ and connected with the Charismatic renewal of the 1970’s, receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
As a senior in high school, John fervently sought God about his future. He packed a sleeping bag and went off to be alone in nature for a few days. He received direction to pursue ministry and began his Bible school education at Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. There he met Gay and a friendship started. After a brief post-college youth pastorate, John returned to Springfield and began studying at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. Gay had also begun graduate studies at the and they reconnected. This time, their friendship evolved into marriage.
In praying about a potential l with John, Gay wondered, with no answer, “What about the call to missions?” Soon after their marriage, however, they started a new ministry as pastors. Gay settled it with God, thinking, “That’ll work. We’ll pastor a couple of years, then go into missions.”
For more than a decade, they served as pastors but one day, as he talked with the Lord, John sensed God say to him, “Teach. ”John had no idea what he was supposed to teach or where and began calling several Assemblies of God colleges. He finally reached Central Indian Bible College (CIBC) in South Dakota. John and Gay were assured that the college needed them both immediately.
Though she was pleased about the open door, Gay saw this as another move farther away from Ecuador. Gay continued questioning God about His whisper to her heart those many years ago but heard no response.
Praying in the Spirit early one morning, Gay experienced the sensation of being , high above the houses and trees. She saw beautiful turquoise waters beneath her and immediately recognized the sparkling water of the Caribbean Sea, then the outline of South America, and soon Ecuador came into focus. Her heart filled with love for the people she had prayed about for years. Her eyes scanned even further beyond, across the vastness of South America, up through Central America, and to North America’s familiar terrain.
God said, “Yes, I called you to Indians. I do not differentiate between the Otavalo Indians of South America and the Lakota Indians of the Great Plains in North America. I love them all and I am not willing that any perish.”
Gay’s troubled heart found peace. The unrest in her mind about “the missionary call to Indians” was finally resolved. John and Gay were being obedient. After raising their financial and prayer support, the Davis family moved to South teach God’s Word—as missionaries to Indians!
John and Gay taught for sixteen years in South Dakota. They prepared ministers at CIBC (by this time, known as Black Hills Indian Bible College) for five years, then traveled for the next decade, holding extension classes on reservations. When this season ended, they moved to North Carolina to begin their next missionary assignment teaching at Native American Bible College.
God loves us and calls us by His Spirit to our individual walks in life. He may use a missionary’s colorful slides, a thought, a circumstance, a vision or a promise from His Word. His call may seem delayed, but God’s Word says His call is “without repentance.” He doesn’t forget us, even if the idea blurs. If we seek God, we will find Him; if we listen, we will hear Him. It is never too late to willingly follow the Lord.