I’m back and can finally say all the stuff that I had wanted to say, but couldn’t because of security issues.
First of all, I just want everyone to know that I can now go into more detail about where I was last semester, but I can’t publish it online or elsewhere. I still have to be careful because there are still missionaries in this very sensitive area of the world and I don’t want anything I do to jeopardize the work going on over there! In that same spirit, I would ask that everyone please be careful what they say about me in the coming weeks and months (prayer lists, internet stuff, etc.)
Sorry had to get that out of the way. Anyway, all the stories, both serious and funny, out of the way, i have several thoughts about my time serving that really stick out to me....
1. We talk a good game about how we’re “all missionaries wherever we are.” It’s so true, but do we really live it? Do we still put missionaries up on a pedestal? Do we live everyday intentionally, taking every opportunity to share the Gospel? The big difference between most missionaries and us is not that they have followed the call to go to another country (that is a big part of it, but there are missionaries in the U.S.) but that they have made sharing Jesus their main priority every day! They would look for opportunities, even try to create opportunities to share about Him! Wow! I saw this firsthand with the missionaries on the field and experienced the change in mindset that is required to live this way! It isn’t hard!!! It just requires prayer to see things the way the Lord does and surrender to His leadership! We are missing out on so much by not living this way!!!
2. Our supervisor told us from the very beginning “I know what you came here to do, but I have no idea what God brought you here to do.” It was hard for me to live out 4 months in that kind of attitude. We all have plans for our lives, for our ministries, really, for everything. I had good intentions going into last semester, but I still came knowing my plan and getting frustrated when it changed. We go through a lot of needless frustration every day because we are unwilling to surrender our plans to the One who knows best! We see changes as things going wrong when we should see them as God working and knowing better!
3. We get so used to hearing certain things and saying certain things that they lose their impact on us. A song that really meant a lot to me in my time there says:
You are stronger, You are stronger
Sin is broken, You have saved me
It is written, Christ is risen
Jesus You are Lord of All
Not that I haven't believed that before, but the words take on a new meaning when you're working with Muslims. First of all, in their understanding of Jesus, they highly esteem Him, but as a prophet, not a Savior. They think that we're on the same page because we believe in Jesus, but they completely deny His death and resurrection....which is pretty important to us as Christians. Also, the greatest sin to a Muslim is the sin of equating something else with God. "There is no god but god" is their profession of faith. Saying that Jesus is Lord of all is offensive to these people, just as we are warned in the Bible that the message of the cross will be. The message of the cross is controversial because it is powerful! We must never get bored with the fact that Jesus is Lord! This is perhaps the most powerful statement we can make! In fact, Romans 10 pins our salvation on confessing His Lordship and believing His resurrection! No wonder these two tenets of our faith are such stumbling blocks to Muslims and other faiths!
4. Islam is seen as such a formidable threat. I’m not trying to downplay how much it is taking over or anything, but we must not live in defeat! Have we forgotten that Jesus still has the victory? God is working in the Middle East, He is working in the hearts of Muslims, He really is the Desire of nations and the Lord over all! Muslims are seeking Him and He is revealing Himself to them in some awesome ways! We cannot give up on the 1 billion people taken captive by this deception! We must keep reaching out to them and supporting mission work. Which finally leads me to…
5. We need to keep praying, going, and giving to support missions! It’s hard to see the impact here in the United States, but I personally saw how much financial and prayer support is needed overseas. Living overseas is difficult and there were plenty of times that the only way I was able to keep going was in the knowledge that God was giving me strength because y’all were praying for me. We must keep praying for missionaries! Also, as a whole, we are giving less and less to missions at a time where God is really moving overseas! Funds for missions sending agencies are running low, meaning that less and less people are able to go on the field! We must give keep giving of ourselves and of our resources if we want to be a part of what God is doing all over the world!
Sorry this was so long! I truly want to thank each and every one of you who prayed for me, encouraged me, kept up with my blog, etc. It truly did mean the world to me and in times where things got hard I relied on and drew encouragement from you, the body of Christ. I think that’s how it should be. I love you all.