One of the best resources for motivation, ideas, and plain ole writer’s block has been other blogs like ours. I have linked to some of them in the right sidebar, under “Others Like Us.” I hope these fellow (can I use that word yet?) missionaries are not ashamed to be connected to Chris and I in this way!
I am interested in missions all over the world and love to read blogs by missionaries who are serving in more physically challenging places. Blogs about Western Europe have been extremely helpful in giving me perspective on some of the challenges faced by missionaries to these countries. I hinted at some of these challenges in our last blog, which addressed a common misconception. It’s one of my favorite posts so far, so I’d love to hear your thoughts!
This week’s Bible Study Fellowship study, which covered Jesus’ crucifixion in John 19, asked the question “who do you need to forgive this week?” following Jesus’ words, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. I forgive pretty easily; grudges, in my mind, waste a lot of energy and just wreak havoc in every day life. So, initially, I thought, “not a soul!” But God (two of my favorite words!) revealed to me that some of what I have been reading lately has the potential to cause some bitterness and anger; that I should begin now to forgive people I might perceive as being insensitive to the calling on our life. I wouldn’t call this a weakness of mine, necessarily, but I definitely want to address it if the enemy could use it.
The fact is, not everyone is on board with missions in Western Europe. People say things like, “I can’t call you a missionary!” when they see western living quarters. They might feel that your field is not a “real mission field” because the people are white (this is alarming!), wealthy or heard the Gospel during Columbus’ time.
I get it.
But, I’d kind of like to forget it.
I’d like to forget the folks who let something like that get in the way of their supporting us, and remember the ones who do give support. God is bringing enough people into the world to sustain missions – He’ll provide enough supporters (or ways to get support) for His “scorned” missionaries to Western Europe (please note the sarcasm; this calling is nothing but a blessing to me).
When God started planting seeds for missions in my heart, I asked Him to give me a renewed heart for people, not just the idea of missions, which, admittedly, I’ve always had. One of the ways God confirmed for Chris and I both that our calling is real and not just a desire for adventure or travel or recognition was the love we felt for the people of Spain. In spite of the cultural barriers, the language barriers, the great distance between our home and Spain, and (possibly because of) the obstacles Spain must overcome to know Christ, they felt like our neighbors, and we couldn’t envision anything less than investing our lives to bring the Gospel into theirs. Simultaneously and miraculously, God also gave us a renewed heart for our current neighbors. In one case, our actual next-door-neighbor (more on that later)!
I’d like to continue answering the questions people have about our field, and sharing the myriad reasons we believe God is calling us there, but let this post be a sort of statement of faith that I will not have this be a forum for complaint or bitterness of any kind. Honesty, yes. We’ll keep it real here. But please know that we have nothing but gratitude for the people and churches who partner with us, and nothing but peace about the ones who don’t.