Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's Kind of Like Swimming...

Mission work is no vacation. Just in my limited missions experience, I've gone for weeks without showers, traveled to foreign countries where no one speaks my language, lived with people I've never met before, eaten things I won't even mention here, not been able to call home for months, been tracked by the government, had my room ransacked by "maids" who turned out to be spies, had things that looked like they were from a science-fiction movie crawl out of my shower drain, and have had to speak in code, lest be deported. (Wow- at this point I sound so much cooler than I really am.)

But the thing I most dread about mission work is "support raising." This is pretty much a euphemism for begging in the name of God. To be sure, it is a necessary part of mission work, as we don't want to be a burden on those we are serving, but raising support is most definitely a humbling and challenging experience.

The first challenge is explaining to those around you how you know you are called to serve the Lord in a distant land. Why can't you just serve Him right here? We certainly have need in America. For a look at how the need compares, view East Africa Statistics or Cultural Disparity). Are you sure you aren't projecting your own desires onto something you term "God's Will?" If it were about my desires, we'd be talking about a beach in Hawaii, not a disease-ridden, snake-infested, poverty-stricken region. How do you know for sure you are called? Well, it follows Scripture, we have had many confirmations through people and events, and we have a sense of peace. Beyond that, how do really explain God's calling to another person? As far as I am concerned, it's kind of like swimming: you can read books, get advice, watch people swim, wonder about it, try it, but until you actually are able to do it, you don't know.

A second challenge is explaining to people we are not mentally insane, just obsessed with serving the Lord. Yes, we are aware of the recent political instability of the area. Honestly, I don't think it has ever been stable, and it won't be in the near future- so no time like the present, right?! Yes, there is disease, poverty, wild game, pickpockets, crime, pollution, bad sounds like some parts of Minneapolis to me.

The most challenging, and humbling, part of raising support isn't sending out hundreds of support letters or taking meeting after meeting with churches. Rather, it is adequately reaching another person's heart with the vision God has set in front of you. We have come up against roadblocks in the past, as with a couple who told Josh that they thought it was time he "did this on his own." Can you imagine if everyone had that attitude? There would be no missionaries, because it is completely unrealistic. Thankfully, many people are willing to support missionaries with either financial assistance or prayer, both vitally important to missions. Josh and I are passionate about the work we will be doing, as well as where and with whom we'll be working. As it wasn't even on our radar 1 year ago, we know it is from the Lord. We will do what it takes to be obedient- sacrifice our own plans, time, comfort...and even ask other people to catch the vision.


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