Coming “Home”: Part Two
8 years and 8 lessons
Welcome back. This morning when I sat down to write this, I kinda regretted committing to six post in six days. Who was I yesterday when I had goals?!?! … but here we go!
If you didn’t see day one, go back and read it. It is a recap of the last eight years.
This list is not all inclusive, for sure, and in no particular order.
- I am weaker than I thought and God knows what He’s doing.
I can not do anything without the power of God’s grace. Ya, I know… we all know that… but do we KNOW that?
I have learned that I am a very forgetful person. I also learn things the hardest …way… possible. I can do a lot in my own strength and in my own willpower. But, when I get caught up in that… what I am doing has zero eternal value. It is just busy work of going through the motions.
No one likes being convicted… but several times I was (and it will probably continually happen). Amazing how when I turn back to doing things with Gods power and not my own ministry happens more smoothly and lives are changed.
Also (I am kinda cheating here, this should probably be a different point… but I’m only giving myself 8!) I have a responsibility to be responsible for my work. I am to be faithful in the calling, God does the rest. He is the one who saves. This isn’t a justification for laziness or passivity but its just what it is. God is the one who saves.
- Missionaries are not special.
I am not sure where the idea that overseas missionaries are the elite of the elite in the church. Let me tell you… I am not. I am just a person trying to do what God has called me to (and probably not doing it very well sometimes). which included going to Mexico for a season.
We struggle, we have times of uncontainable joy, we pray for clarity, we question if what we are doing is what we are suppose to be doing. Just like every other Believer there are times when Missionaries are tested. But by being tested, God is using that in our lives (if we allow it) to be refined.
We are normal. Ok…. maybe not normal. But we are not immune to being sinful creatures that are continually in need of a Savior.
- There is a power in prayer.
Sometimes I forget that prayer is as powerful as it is. Sometimes its not the first thing I run to when something good or something bad happens (see above where I talk about doing things in my own strength *eye roll*). I will say that I think I am better about it now then several years ago but I am still a work in progress.
Ruth Haley Barton says, “Simply put, prayer is all the ways in which we communicate and commune with God. The fundamental purpose of prayer is to deepen our intimacy with God.”
Prayer is a time when I am focused on being in relationship with my Savior. It is a time I can intercede for others, especially those whose trapped in spiritual darkness. It is a time that my heart is softened and it sets me up for being more sensitive to the nudges of the Spirit in daily life.
“Every step in the progress of missions is directly traceable to prayer. It has been the preparation for every new triumph and the secret for all success.” – A.T. Pierson
- Spiritual Warfare in no joke.
Satan and his forces are real, I do not know many believers that would deny that. Side note if you don’t believe it: The bible deems them as real as well.
I won’t go into a ton of detail, but I have some new(ish) experiences on spiritual warfare. Living in a town that is FULL of witchcraft and satanic worship is eye opening.
But there is good news. God reigns… even over the enemy.
- If you are lucky… you get to see fruit.
I worked in two very different areas. The first one, Mexico City, is a place where people are ready to hear the Gospel. Ok, not everyone… but people are receptive and open. Sometimes we would see immediate results from a conversation that involved the Gospel. People typically wanted to hear more and were very interested in why a single white girl decided to move to their city. So, not always easy but definetly a field where you see results.
In Amealco, life was different. It is a small, traditional town that everyone came from like 5 families. Everyone knows everyone and everyone knows everyones business. So be careful ;). People tend to be more cynical, scared and less open to the Gospel. It would not be a place that you would call a “harvest field”. Despite that, we did see some fruit… because God is still God and still in the business of changing lives. BUT, it is a place where you go and have to be ok with working hard your whole life and not see a new person come to know the Lord.
- Sacrifice, even for Jesus, is hard!
Sometimes I have a hard time seeing the last eight years as a sacrifice. I feel very blessed that I had the opportunity to experience what I experienced. I was able to go places, meet people and do things most don’t get to! I am so aware that so many have sacrificed much more than I have ever had to. But, I suppose there was some sacrifice on my part. There was time apart from the people I loved, I missed out on huge milestones for people in the States because I couldn’t always get back, I didn’t have some of the comforts that I grew accustomed to growing up, there were times of loneliness and longing for something different, etc.
Lots of people, myself included, naively think-or thought- that if you working for the greatest cause of all (working for all the nations to glorify God) then it shouldn’t be hard or a sacrifice. But, ya thats not true. But thats not the end either…
- You have the opportunity to trust God more than ever and He is always Faithful.
Matthew 28:18-20. The great commission and we have all heard it a billion times. It says,
’And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’”
Mixed into the commission to the nations is also a pretty great promise. He promises to be with us til the end of the age. He will be there to guide, bless, encourage, protect, provide and comfort.
There are MANY examples of how #7 has played out in my life.
– Raising support is one of those things that no one loves but it absolutely builds your faith. You have to trust the Lord to provide for every single need. There were/are times when this is still hard. But, He hasn’t let me down yet!
– No matter how much you prepare to move to a different culture, you are never really prepared. You have expectations that are never met, you feel like a useless person when you don’t speak the language, and you don’t even know how to do any of the basic stuff (getting groceries, paying bills, etc). With time, all of those things get easier but not before you learn to rely on the grace of God daily to get through.
– Whenever I felt discouraged with the ministries, no matter what the situation was, God always showed up in an unexpected way. Sometimes it was a message from a friend, sometimes it was a donation that I wasn’t expecting, sometimes it was watching God work in someones life, or it was something that He brought up during my time with Him. He is faithful. He can be trusted.
– The longer you are on the field the more you realize that you really have zero ability to control what is happening. I had to learn to be patient and trust that God will put the pieces together the way that HE wants and it will likely look different then the way I want it to.
- It takes a village.
My life and my ministry in Mexico (and now) was only possible because of the hundreds of people who faithfully supported me prayerfully and financially.
I am not sure I could ever express the amount of gratitude I have for all the people who have believed in me (and of course the work of God) and trusted me enough to send me. Every prayer and financial supporter sacrificed. We all partnered in different ways with the work the Lord is doing.
Every person has a responsibility to the nations. For some its going… for some its giving financially… for some its providing a service… but for all its praying! Thank you to all of you!
So, looking over that list I realize that I think I know less then I thought I knew before going on the field. yikes.
See you tomorrow for a post about culture shock, more specifically reverse culture shock!