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?