myMISSION Missionary Blog

I’m Selfish

Have you ever had one of those really busy days? When everything you do seems to be overlapping with the next and you can’t seem to finish anything well?

Or, maybe you are like me lately, and this has been a season you are in. I feel like over the past few months I have grown to become queen of the to-do list.

My days, give or take a few changing variables, look like me groggily waking up to my alarm, rushing out the door to my 9–6 job, filling my breaks and lunches with an errand, then going straight from work to my next activity. Most of my evenings I have planned. Whether it’s small group, church volunteering, homework, or time with my husband.

None of these things on my list are bad. But over the last year, I have formed a cadence to my life.

My schedule, my time, my to-do list, and my rushing around, all of the sudden, has become a lot about me.

The Not-So-Easy Commission

When Jesus left his disciples with the Great Commission, nowhere in his verbiage did he say or did he even hint what he was asking them to do would be easy.

Jesus knew the sins of humankind. He knew that sharing the gospel would lead to discrimination, imprisonment, and death for these bold few He called.

Of course he knew. He had just experienced a tortuous death of his flesh.

The call to share the name of Jesus to the ends of the earth will always take sacrifice. It is not a call where we can sit within our comforts and delights and be effective in reaching out. Oftentimes in our lives, when God calls us to be bold and share His love, it comes at a cost.

Changing routines. Moving communities. Giving up money. Giving of our time. And for some, moving to distant lands.

We must begin loosening our grip on our time, finances, and family, in order to allow space for the kingdom at work to move.

Changes in My Plans

The way forward railway

Less than six months in, I knew the 2-year commitment I signed up for was about to look drastically different than my previous expectations. I moved to the Middle East, with a team I was going to walk alongside and a community that was welcoming me.

The day I found out my supervisors were no longer going to be the leaders of our team, it was clear from this point forward, the next year and a half was about to look very different than what I had in mind.

What we seem to never plan for are the bumps along the way. I don’t think any of us go into a circumstance expecting it to be easy. But few of us go into new situations looking for the potential bumps. We walk in obedience and take each moment as it arrives.

This drastic change in job, leadership, team dynamic, and community made the next year and a half really random to say the least. I moved countries 11 months in and had to readjust to a new dialect and a new cultural order. What initially felt smooth in my transition grew increasingly difficult and, to be honest, really lonely.

No one could have prepared me for what living in the Middle East on my own would have felt like.

The Cross of Crossing Town

It’s amazing how quickly we can become “comfortable.” I vowed after my years in the Middle East I wouldn’t give in to the American lifestyle, feeling entitled to a certain standard of living and implementing levels of fear and distrust into my life about the world around me.

Over the past year and a half, my small home I rent has started to feel really cozy. After my husband and I got married, we decorated and began to shape it more into ours. In this past year we had no idea the changes God was about to place in our lives. We discovered God was blessing us with a child and instantly we have started to take the steps to shift and adjust to the new addition coming to our family this summer.

One of the areas of our life we have been praying about from the beginning of our relationship is how to serve the community around us. We have been asking God for His vision for us and who He wants us to be as a couple in service to Him.

God has answered that prayer recently in big ways. He has opened up a part of the city for us to move to, with an opportunity to serve the community and show His love to people who inhabit the homes around us.

Learning to Cook

Cooking was something I grew into, if that’s how we should term it.

I thought I really liked to cook when was growing up, but when I ventured out into the world and met women who could take a pinch of flour and turn it into a masterpiece, I realized maybe I wasn’t that gifted. Ask me to cook a savory dish, I am there. But, oh you have a local bake sale coming up? And I am struggling to figure out what would be appropriate.

In my cold, yet cozy home in the Middle East, my favorite holiday was on the horizon: Christmas. I had moved into this apartment and I knew I had neighbors but honestly I never saw them. My local transportation was taxi cabs, so I was constantly walking the floors to exit the front door, while my neighbors used the elevator to go to the garage and leave in their vehicles. Oh the elevator, a way to never see people.

Obedience and Mistakes

During our apprentice term with our missions organization, one of the things required was to share a Creation to Christ story in the heart language of our people . . . from memory. Sigh. I was seven months pregnant with our second child when this requirement needed to be fulfilled and while pregnancy brain may have been my excuse, I'm not sure how much easier it would have been otherwise.

To say that I struggled with this assignment would be putting it mildly. I had spent two years studying the language and still had difficulties with it daily. I knew who the Lord wanted me to share this set of stories with, but I was anxious. Roxanne was a friend who was a nonbeliever and I was convinced that if I messed this up, she was never going to want to accept Christ. Selfish? Prideful? Yes, to say the least but it was (however sadly) my mindset.

Sharing Among Differences

While my husband was in seminary, I taught fourth grade and the Lord began to show me that I wasn't there simply for the children. He brought a woman into my life that needed to hear of His love. I can remember thinking how easy it would be to build a relationship with her and just tell her everything I knew about Jesus. I envisioned her accepting Christ and coming to church with me for the rest of the year.

However, it didn't quite turn out that way. I didn't realize it at first but quickly came to the conclusion that I had never shared my faith with an adult before. I shared with children as a child and as an adult but never someone older than me. As I listened to her life story and started to learn of her struggles, it became very apparent to me that I had nothing to offer her. We had grown up differently, our marriages were worlds apart, and she had “heard the whole Jesus thing” before.

The Great Commission

From a young age, the Great Commission became a motto of sorts for me. I knew that I was called to the nations. I had no doubts that I would be the one to tell others about Christ, especially those who had never heard.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and sure enough the Lord placed me right in the center of an unengaged, unreached people group. I spent time in language learning how to share my heart and His words with this people who walked in such spiritual darkness. My lifelong vision for missions had come true. I was actually living it out.

In 2014, what started out as a six-month stateside assignment to the United States turned into the Lord calling us back to Mississippi. To say my world was rocked would be an understatement, but that's a story for another time. What I want to share with you is how the Lord redefined the Great Commission for me. He used it to create the same missions vision just from a different perspective.

Vision Casting

Often on the missions field we talk about "vision casting.” Having a vision for what you are doing is important because it causes you to focus on the long term goal and what you can do currently to help achieve it.

Through the Lord's grace, I am "mommy" to two funny and beautiful gals. Long before they were born, I was praying for them and asking the Lord for wisdom in parenting and raising the ones He was entrusting us with. Little did I know then, that I would be praying that more and more as I try to live out this calling of motherhood.

Now, I'm not sure I've ever called it "vision casting" but if you ask me what my vision is for them, I know what it is. My vision is that they would walk intimately with the Father, that they have joy that is unspeakable and peace that passes all understanding. I pray for them to know His salvation the very first time His Spirit calls them to Himself and that we, as parents, have given them the knowledge of who He is and the gift that He has given.

Language Learning

My gifts are teaching, speaking, and writing. I have known two of these for a while and one was just beginning to develop back in 2011 when I stepped on the distant soil of Madagascar. I was anxious to develop relationships and share the gospel with anyone who would listen. That was, until about ten minutes later as I went through customs and realized no one could understand anything I was saying.

For the first couple of days, it was entertaining. It was almost comical how much we could not understand and how little we could communicate (unless it was in the form of pointing and gestures). Soon though, our lack of communication became part of our motivation to learn the language and to learn it quickly! Over the next six months, we were in formal language school and once we passed our final exam; we moved to the town where we would do ministry. I began to understand that I would indeed never be out of language school . . . it may not be formal but there would always be something new to learn.

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