Missionary for life
MICHELE PAYNE WANTED to do something different with her life.
She felt the call of God to do missionary work.?She quit her longstanding job, left her supportive family and went to India last year which opened her to a life changing experience and strengthened her relationship with God.
Some may wonder why somebody would quit their job in the prime of their life to begin a journey as a missionary.
According to the 41-year-old, she was following God’s call and “if this is what God wants me to do, I am doing it”.
At least, that is what she told EASY MAGAZINE in a happy spirit, as she spoke of her passion to answer God’s call and about her life before she got to that point.
First and foremost, Payne was a preacher’s child who lived and breathed “church” and often, along with her four siblings, had to give up her bed to accommodate overseas missionaries. Her father, Dr Gline Sealy, was a bishop in the Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies (PAWI), serving 30 years in full-time assembly.
“My father was passionate about church and God. You going Sunday morning and night; you going to all-night meeting; you going to prayer meeting.
“We pass water on the benches because when all-night prayer meeting, you can’t stay home; you bring out your blanket and pillows and sleeping,” she recalled.
But when her life’s decisions were in her hands, she went into the world, experiencing what she was not exposed to in her sheltered home, and eventually became a divorced single mother. At one point, she “felt alone and everybody could see something was wrong”.
But she believed that everything she went through in life was training ground for what she would face as a missionary.
“I could identify with a single mother. I could identify with women and their struggles. I could identify with women who came out of bad relationships. I could identify with things I would not be able to identify with if I had not gone into the world after coming up as a pastor’s kid,” she said.
And though her experiences were hard and rough, she does not blame her teacher, but thanks him for the lessons he taught her.
“You too, have a part to play in the choices you make. When I began to understand all of that, my outlook on God and life was different.
“For the first time, two years ago, when I stopped struggling with God and telling him where my life should go, I really understood my faith. I talk to Him as my friend and ask Him to guide me.”
On her 40th birthday, the lost child who found her faith was a Library Assistant at the National Library Service for over 16 years.
However, she was not fulfilled.
As a result, she told God that she wanted the rest of her life to be different, have more meaning and purpose. She recalled that in an answer to her prayers, God called on her to become a missionary.
Acting in quick response, Payne, a member of People’s Cathedral, went to her pastor to whom she expressed her thirst to go on the missionary field and was soon after enrolled in a missionary training programme at the Abundant Life Assembly.
Around the middle of last year, she graduated and the next step was to put her training into practice. She went on a life changing missionary trip to Guyana, during which she blessed many souls with her testimony and preached to the unconverted, converting many men and women.
“When the pastor told me that I have to preach and he was rostering me to, I was like: ‘I am not a preacher, I don’t even know if I can plan a sermon’,” she said.
“But when I was preparing the sermon, God said: ‘Michele, this is who this sermon is going to touch. There are three sets of people this sermon is going to minister to’. And just how God said it would happen, it happened.
“There was a group of people who were never saved before and they came up. There was a group of Christians and they came up. Then, there was third group. I was like: “God, you could be so real.’ It was the three groups of people he showed me,” she said. “From then, whatever He says to me to do, I just do it.”
Payne said she returned home with a contented spirit and then God spoke to her about going to India to train in the area of Teaching English As a Foreign Language (TEFL) which could become a necessity for her as a missionary.
“I was like: ‘India, how am I going to get to India?’. So, I went to my pastor and she told me that the church supported an orphanage down there . . . . So, I was to go to work at the orphanage for a while and then go to do the course.”
And on November 1, 2012, it was time for the mother of a 19- and 17-year-old to leave Barbados without a returning date in mind or what she was going to face when she got to her destination.
With a reflective look on her face, Payne said that was one of the most difficult days in her life, as she saw tears flowing from her children’s eyes.
However, she said she boarded the plane knowing that while she knew they were going to miss her, they and other family members understood that she wanted to fulfill God’s calling.
“I cried on my trip to England. My eyes were red when I got there. . . . It was an experience.”
Payne said she faced several scary challenges on her way to, and in, India which forced her to often step out in faith.
Her first was missing the flight in England which would take her to Chennai, India and her alternative was to take a plane to Hyderabad. After her efforts to get to Chennai to meet with a missionary who works at the orphanage, she found out that he was dead.
In the midst of it all, she had a scary experience when she was almost attacked in her room by a male employee while staying at a hotel last Christmas. She said that experience was a testimony of God’s protection and faithfulness.
Nevertheless, she successfully completed the enlightening course in TEFL at the American TESOL Institute in Kerala and was sent to a Muslim school to do her internship.
“I expected to do my internship at an orphanage but the school was one of the most satisfying, rewarding experiences I have ever had. They treated me really good. I was involved in the school life. I marked papers; I talked to parents, I went on tours with the children, I went to weddings.”
“I was with them for four months and they offered me a job. I told them I have to go home and they say: ‘For good?’. The children, teachers or the principal didn’t want me to leave.
“A new school was opening and they would have provided accommodation for me. They told me to bring my children and my mother, bring everybody,” she said, with a laugh.
Payne returned home in April and was happy to see her family. But, she did not hesitate to ask God what was next.
Soon after, she received an offer to go to Haiti and work with Foundation Heart for Haiti, which is a non-profit missions organization that consists of a children’s village for orphaned and neglected children, an old people’s home, a dental clinic and church in the heart of the capital, Port-au-Prince, as well as a school and a church in the mountainous region of Leogane.
She is also waiting on word about going to Africa to assist in the setting up of a school.
“So, right now, I am praying and meditating and preparing myself for Haiti. I am not too sure how long I am going to be there because the person who is running it really needs the help,” she pointed out.
When asked about financially maintaining herself and children, in a frank tone, Payne said: “God called me and he will take care of me and the children.”
“Some days, I don’t have a cent but then some days, I have money and still meet my commitments. My son is going into the [Samuel Jackman Prescod] Polytechnic and my daughter is going from Queen’s College to the University of the West Indies now and I give them what I get and then my family is there. I don’t know how it is being done but God called me and he is looking out for me.”
What is certain, is that Payne sees herself being a missionary for the rest of her life.
“My experience in India showed me that I can survive and have the fortitude to be isolated from my family and going into a strange culture. Being a missionary is what God called me to do and what I want to do,” Payne said.