Michal Baken knew she had a calling on her life, but a chronic illness left her wondering how it could happen. Now, she has been accepted for training as a cadet at Booth College of Mission.
I was born into a Salvationist family, the daughter of Don and Margaret Anne Baken, and cannot remember a time where I didn’t believe in God. I have no memory of a ‘moment of conversion’, just many memories of different moments along the journey. When I was nine my family left The Salvation Army Corps in Palmerston North and began to attend St. Albans Presbyterian Church.
Then, when I was 17, God asked me to put aside my own dreams and follow his plans for my life. He didn’t give me many specifics of what those plans were, but he did ask me to attend Laidlaw Bible College. So I did.
Six months into my study I experienced a physical burn out that resulted in a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Sydrome (CFS). I was unable to study or work, and most weeks couldn’t even attend church. CFS is an illness that is currently incurable, but, through my period of illness, my understanding of God’s call on my life continued to grow. As impossible as it seemed, I knew God was calling me to full-time ministry. I just didn’t know what kind of ministry that would be.
Many people prayed for me during this time but, discouragingly, there never seemed to be any change in my health. Then five years after my diagnosis, I received yet another prayer for healing and by God’s grace my health began to improve. Hallelujah!
This was a very exciting time for me. My health wasn’t a hundred percent, but it was enough that I could study part time. Six months after I was partially healed, God called me to work as a youth pastor at St. David’s Presbyterian Church in Palmerston North. This was a period of intense learning for me, and during my time there, God showed me the next piece of his plan for my life—he was calling me to be a minister. I just didn’t know which church I was supposed to be a minister with.
Then a few years later, I had a bizarre experience: someone told me during a casual conversation over coffee to, ‘go home’. As weird as it sounds, I knew immediately that it was a word from God. The only problem was that I didn’t know where my ‘home’ was. It took several months of prayer and discussion with family and friends, but I eventually realised that The Salvation Army was my home.
I started attending The Salvation Army at the beginning of 2017, and it became very clear to me that God was calling me to officership. The only problem was that I was still not fully healed. I wrestled with God over my health, reminding him that I couldn’t follow his call with my health the way it was, and I eventually decided to visit the local Healing Rooms for further prayer. Two days later, I woke up and suddenly realised that I was one hundred per cent well. Hallelujah! God is good!
My life has been quite the journey with God so far, but he has proved his faithfulness each step of the way. I am very excited to be taking the next step in the journey over the next two years and I trust that whatever struggles there might be ahead, my God is faithful! As it says in 1 Thessalonians 5:24: ‘The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.’
(c) 'War Cry' magazine, 3 November 2018, p11- You can read 'War Cry' at your nearest Salvation Army church or centre, or subscribe through Salvationist Resources.