Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Hidden Cost of Missions

There was nothing easy about leaving our family and friends as we left the States to follow the call with our three children to international missions.  In some ways, it was a tiny relief to finally make that break and get on with the next chapter of our lives.  Looking back, I realize that I was a bit naive in thinking that the goodbyes were over until we came back to the States and had to leave again.

In the 7+ years that we have been in Zambia, we have had 27 more goodbyes to say to other missionaries as they have left Zambia for various reasons.  Some came and went while we were here, some we didn't even the opportunity to say goodbye to as we were not in Zambia when they left, some were here before we ever arrived and left while we were here.  Many different scenarios yet all were difficult - some more than others.  I was recently at a meeting when one missionary lady stood up to show a beautiful picture of about 8 ladies.  She was heartbroken.  These were ladies on her team and now, she was the only one left on the field.  I feel her pain.

I am an introvert.  I have learned that about myself.  So, honestly, I do not make friends in a flash.  Right or wrong (really, it's probably wrong but I am just trying to be transparent here), I make a distinction between an acquaintance and a friend.  I have also learned that I look for ladies with whom I can go deep, quickly.  When that happens, I'm all in yet the heart ache is when, for whatever reason, many of those friends leave the field.  More goodbyes, more heart ache, more lost friends.  It's like the good byes never stop.  Nothing ever stays the same in this world of missions.  As missionaries, we share a unique lifestyle - with it's joys, sorrows and frustrations - and so many times, that quickly and steadfastly bonds us together.  We share a life together that our blood relatives and US friends will possibly never completely understand.

This is a cost that I did not know to count.  How your heart swells with a new friend and plunges when another goodbye happens.  It is so wearisome on my heart as people seem to be constantly coming in and out of our lives.  They take little pieces of my heart with them.  Sometimes, I wonder how much more of my heart do I have to give to others but then the Lord reminds me that he is "near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit" Psalm 34:18.

Now, please don't become worried about me.  I honestly am fine right now.  My heart is right with the Lord and I am not currently struggling over much with this.  I really just wanted you to know that there are so many of us who wrestle with this reality.  Had you thought of this before when you pray for missionaries?  If not, please consider adding a new dimension to your prayers for us that the Lord will be our constant friend.  He is that and so much more.  James 4:8 says "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."

There is a cost in the call to missions.  But even now, as I am discovering some new costs that I didn't previously understand, I can unequivocally say that the cost is worth it!  
Jesus is worth it!

"For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory." 2 Corinthians 4:7

This is what all of our lives are to be about - no matter what...

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Keys to the Master's Orders

I have just returned from a week in Kenya at a Prayer Forum for Sub Sahara African Peoples.  It was a compelling time spent there with several other missionaries as we humbled ourselves, confessed the secret sins in our lives, learned to truly hear the Word of God and to have faith in the Lord (not ourselves).  We also learned 'how' to pray with Praise, Confession and Intercession.

Prayer is not a formula.  It is a relationship, an exceptionally powerful relationship - not through our own human power but through the power of a relationship with the Almighty God, the King of Kings, the Savior of the World.

In missions, more missionaries is not the answer to the vast lostness of the world.  You can't just work harder or do more, even though so many may, at times, tumble into this trap.   Oswald Chambers says that "the key to the missionary's difficult task is in the hand of God, and that key is prayer, not work."  He goes on to say that "the key to the missionary's difficult task is not the key of common sense, nor is the key of medicine, civilization, education or even evangelism.  The key is in following the Master's orders - the key is prayer."
Prayer is the battle.  The backbone of missions is prayer.

Matthew 9:38 says that we are to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His Harvest.  This is what the Lord is asking you to do.  
Humble yourself.  
Is there a broken relationship in your life that has unintentionally, maybe even unknowingly come between you and the Lord?  Confess this to the Lord then go and confess this to that person with whom you have a broken fellowship.  
Pray and seek the Lord.  
He has a work for you to do and that work is prayer.

Here are some ways that you can pray:
Pray that our whole family will faithfully share Christ at every opportunity.
He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." Mark 16:15

Pray for Zambia to humble themselves and pray and seek the Lord's face and turn from their evil ways so their sins will be forgiven. 1 Chronicles 7:14

Pray that our dependence will only be on the Lord.
"Trust in the Lord will all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding."  Proverbs 3:5

Pray for our family to stand firm in everything.
"For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory." 2 Corinthians 4:17

Will you pray?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

This is Missions...

I recently read a blog post on A Life Overseas.  I really admire this blog and the various articles/blog posts that I have read.  This blog post spoke about what missions was in an Asian setting.  I have been thinking a bit about what missions is like to me, here in Zambia....


This is missions.....

It's waking up in the middle of the night when the electricity is out and trying to kill a buzzing mosquito in your net.

It is never wanting to throw away any container that could possibly be useful in the future.

It is loosing a child's shoe in the pit toilet because you can't manage to get his clothes off of him in the tiny stinky space and hold him semi over to dirt hole so that he can do his business.

It is five adults and seven kids all having the time of their lives seeing who can kill the most mosquitos in one room.

It is watching the stories of the Bible come alive (on a felt board) in the eyes of beautiful ebony children.

It is eating Ben & Jerry's ice cream for supper while in the States, just because you can.

It is realizing the key to a happy life might just be a good shower and a comfortable bed.

It is praying fervently over your sick child because there is not adequate medical care.

It is driving on the left side of the road in a new city with people literally all over the road, shifting a stick shift and talking on the phone while trying to convince a loved one in America that you are a bit busy at the time to talk to them.

It is your children learning to love the nations while on a walk with Dad.

It is having your 8 year old son spontaneously share the gospel with a man at the market and the man coming to know Christ.

It is being stopped crossways in the middle of a road and being almost sure that the cars coming at you full speed with either stop or swerve around you.

It is being in almost total wilderness/bush and knowing without a shadow of a doubt that God knows exactly where you are, even if we were not so sure at the moment.

It is saying goodbye to family and friends way too many times to count and having your heart crack a little every.single.time.

It is heart-rending when after you share the Gospel with someone and their only response is that it was a good story.

It is having to explain the most basics of American culture and life to your children when we are back in the US.

It is hearing a young new believer say that his life has changed since he has met us (and Jesus Christ).

It is walking through a small town's market and having all the ladies who are selling vegetables spontaneously and collectively cheer when they see your whole family.

It is realizing your son has arrived in the grocery store with no shoes on (more than once) and being ok with it.

It is seeing a young pregnant demon possessed woman writhing on the floor of the Baptist church.

It is a tiny, dirty, beautiful ebony hand slipping into yours.

It is doling out American Peanut Butter M & M's one at a time (and not every time they ask) to your own children.

It is never again fitting in anywhere - in the USA, nor in Zambia.

It is pure joy to be given the daily opportunity to die to self and share Jesus with Zambians.

It is knowing that it is all absolutely worth it and you would do it all over again if He asked you to.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Our Stateside in Pictures...

There are LOTS of pictures in this post as I try to show you in pictures our most recent time in the States.  I very much apologize for my lack of postings and I am going to endeavor to keep our blog more up to date!

In October, right before we left Zambia, Jeff and Steven hosted a special lunch for the guys that have been involved in their street vendors ministry.

They gifted us with a painting of our family.

 Just a few days after we arrived in Texas, we celebrated Zoe's 11th birthday on November 11th.

 A few days later, we got together with the family to celebrate again.

 ALL of Jeff's family were together for Thanksgiving.

The kids and I loved Happy Hour at Sonic!

 We were all astonished at the bounty of readily available snacks.

 Christmas - a few days early in Texas.

Driving 14 hours to Kentucky...

Christmas day in Kentucky.

 After Christmas, we travelled to South Carolina for a few days to visit family
and found Krispy Kreme!

After South Carolina, we travelled through New Orleans on our way back to Texas.
Here we are enjoying beignets at Cafe DuMonde.

 Levi had accepted Christ in Zambia but we were not able to baptize them as most churches just have Baptism a few times a year.  So, we waited until January so some of Jeff's family could attend.

 Just a picture of the kids as we shared about Zambia in churches in Texas.
We spoke 37 times in 25 weeks!

In February, we were able to be in our church's new directory.
Here is a shot of us after the official pictures had been taken.

 A friend let us come out to the barn and she gave the kids impromptu riding lessons.

 February also saw us at Great Wolf Lodge to have a short mini vacation.

 Jeff ran his third marathon at the end of February.  He came in first in his age group!

In March, we were able to spend too short of a time with great friends of ours.
This family is so dear to us!

 At the end of March, we celebrated the three April birthdays - Levi, Kirby and Steven - all on the same day!

 At the first of April, we travelled to San Antonio to meet our volunteer team that will arrive in July.  Jeff also did some training for them to prepare them for evangelizing in Zambia.

 The day of Levi's actual birthday - April 5.  We had gifts then went to Chuck E. Cheese for lunch.

Spending the last days with the family.  Cousins Unite!

 Just three days before we left Texas.  Frozen yogurt with family.

 I got a whole cake to eat right before we left!  Yum!

 The last day arrived - traveling to Houston - on the way back to Zambia.