by Paul Nielsen
I met Geinene Carson and her husband Mat at Missions Fest Northwest in 2005. She has served with Operation Mobilisation since graduating college in 1999. Her first three and a half years were spent serving with a team in Vienna, Austria.
She moved back to the US in 2002 to join OM’s recruiting team. And, for the past year, Geinene has been actively pursuing the development and promotion of a pioneering new Visual Arts Ministry, OM Artslink. Presently, her position is Missions Mobilizer and Artslink Director.
Propel: When you and Mat were dating, did you both feel as though God was taking you in the same direction towards or into missions?
Geinene: Good question. We both had developed an obvious passion for missions and were coming to terms individually that our short term mission experiences with OM could very likely become life-long careers. Missions then, in a sense, was seen as a reality for our lives whether dating or not.
The catch was that we had very different mission experiences and ideas for what our future mission involvement would look like. Matthew had served his first three years in the Muslim world. I, on the other hand, had been serving in secular Europe, gaining a great passion for sharing Christ among Europeans while also developing avenues for using visual art in ministry. We knew God was calling us into missions, but we questioned if we were called to the same type and region of ministry. I love Muslims but didn’t hold the same passion and urgency that Matthew had for them. He had never really experienced Europe nor held the same passion that I had for using the arts. It was an interesting dilemma, one that concerned us both for some time. Our question was “How would God marry our passions and missions experiences?” We wondered if it would end up in one of us sacrificing our passion and ministry and adopt the other’s.
In those early dating days, I remember being somewhat concerned that if I pursued marriage with Matthew, I would have no choice but to go to the darkest parts of the Muslim world, having to sacrifice my independence as well as my artistic talents. Noticing my uncertainty on the matter, a mentor of mine shared a great piece of advice with me, which changed the way I looked at the matter. She said, “Geinene, before you try to figure out if you are called to this ministry . . . you first need to answer if you are called to this particular man.” She further explained to me how once I know of God’s leading in our relationship, then the rest would fall into place as God would have it. She talked about how God could change my heart for ministry, or Matthew’s. God could even change both our ministry paths entirely. This advice really simplified things in my mind. Instead of worrying about all the “ifs,” I just had to simply focus on my relationship with Matthew and find out if he was someone God had placed in my life for a reason.
Propel: Are you and Mat both headed in the same direction in your mission service today?
Geinene: I can now say yes without a doubt. We are headed in the same direction, married in our purpose and cause, complementing each other with differing gifts and talents. As our relationship has developed and we find ourselves married almost two years, we have learned to celebrate our differences instead of being threatened by them. We are discovering a “team” mentality, seeking the Lord’s will together instead of separately. Our differing backgrounds in ministry are beginning to make sense as our lives become uniquely ours.
God recently led us into a most exciting ministry. Like I said before, our question had always been how God would marry our different visions: his for Muslims and mine for the Arts. We share a love for cities and an interest in learning more about urban church-planting through creative means. God opened the door for us to move into the city of Atlanta to help with a dying church. Here we find ourselves surrounded by a most dynamic community. Two blocks away is the biggest Mosque in the Southeast, and in the other direction a most secular art community.
I am gaining a new understanding and experience with the Muslim community while he is most interested in immersing himself in the art community and helping me lead art teams to Europe a couple of times a year. If you ask me, this is really a God designed location for us and a great training ground for where He will be sending us next.