Sunday, July 24, 2011

On Mission

In last week’s column I shared about obeying God; going where, and when, He nudges us. We shouldn’t let anything stop us; not others, not the fear of the unknown, and not even a lack of funds. Whoever God calls, He also equips.

This biblical principle has proven to be true many times in my life; whenever I’ve felt nudged to do something out of my comfort zone. And He has never nudged me out of my comfort zone more than now. In a few weeks I will be leaving for a mission’s trip to Kenya, Africa. (First time out of the country, first time on a mission’s trip.) I have been completely amazed at how everything has come together. For starters, the same month that I committed to going on the trip was the same month that my husband lost his job. Needless to say, the funds were a huge leap of faith, but God has come through.

This tugging to go to Africa first began three years ago. For a while I kept quiet and prayed…a lot, sharing it with no one. Then finally I shared the desire with my husband. I have to confess, neither one of us immediately embraced the idea. But as we continued praying and watching how God responded, we both came to the realization that I had to go.

Those three years were a time of preparation. God was instilling in me a burden and a love for all people (inmates and Africans); the lost and hurting among us. Then a year ago, when the tugging was at its peak, my husband and I prayerfully decided to sponsor a child from an orphanage in Kenya. We decided that the next child that became available would be the one, male or female, older or younger, we didn’t care. The next child was Fiona. When we saw her picture we immediately fell in love with her. But when we discovered she was 14, at the top of her class, loved to write, and her favorite subject was...English, the intense pull to encourage her in person began. Quite honestly, I could think of nothing else but getting to her and the other children, and sharing the love (and hope) of Christ with them.

Last fall we traveled out of state to meet the director of the mission’s team for this orphanage, and other missionaries. The highlight of the evening, though, was meeting Fiona, via Skype, and hearing her tell us she “luuuved” us, in her rich, South African accent. She told us that she prays for us every day and thanks God for us. To say she was appreciative of being sponsored would be an understatement. Before tearfully saying our goodbyes, she asked me to come visit her soon.

That night I knew, I was going to Kenya – I had to go. It was time to put my piddly insecurities aside, stop whining about giving up the comforts of home, and step out in faith and trust.

What about you? Are you sensing a call to serve outside of your comfort zone? Pray, obey…and trust God to lead the way.

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen (Hebrews 13:20-21).

In His Service,

Monday, July 18, 2011

Serving Where He Leads

A while back, I heard a prominent preacher speak about “the mission field”. He became loud and passionate as he shared his feelings about those who travel half-way round the world to reach others for Christ. Interestingly, his message wasn’t to “go”, rather it was to stay. He encouraged the congregation to stay home and spend their time and money locally because, “lots of souls are perishing here, too”.

Lately, I heard another preacher make a similar comment. This time, though, I couldn’t help but smile inwardly. I could recall, not long ago, when I felt the same way as both those preachers. I couldn’t understand why people would spend thousands of dollars on a trip to love on strangers, when they had family members and neighbors who also needed ministered to. It made no sense to me. While I could understand a “calling” to stay and live among the people of another country, a simple two week visit seemed to me (back then) to be a waste of time and money.

My husband and I have supported many missionaries over the years. We committed to praying for them and financially giving the amount God laid on our heart. We always believed supporting them was “our part”. And usually, on the day the missionaries departed from the United States, I would give a silent sigh of relief that I hadn’t been called to go with them. I have even commented out loud on several occasions, “I’m glad it’s not me!” Several of my friends have heard me confess that, “I could never give up the comforts of home and go do that.”

Be careful what you say you’ll never be able to do. I am personally convinced that is exactly what God will nudge us to do, just to prove that He is God, and that by His power He can enable and equip us to do those things we may never have thought possible. He can change our desires and mold us into men and women of integrity and character, if we surrender our will. When we humble ourselves and get ourself out of the way, completely submitting to God’s authority, we will know true freedom, peace, and yes, even joy.

While there is nothing wrong with ministering to our neighbors, there is something wrong with busying ourselves by doing good deeds in order to get out of obeying God’s nudges to go and do what He is telling us to do. It can also be wrong to listen to others (no matter how well-meaning they are) who tell us to stay home, when we know we have clearly heard from the Lord to “Go”!

The main message that we need instilled in our heart is…obedience. The preachers who discouraged overseas missionary work forgot – if God is telling you to go, you must obey. God will take care of local needs (and your own needs); He is big enough to do that. What He wants from us is such a close relationship with Him (which comes from spending time in His word, in prayer, and with other believers) that we recognize His voice, and then immediately obey.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight
(Proverbs 3:5-6).

Trusting Him,

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