Adult Team Blog

Connecting with the World around You

I was blessed to be part of a volunteer team that ministered at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. I enjoyed the international setting and the nations coming together in one place.

The Olympic missions experience taught me much about families.

Regardless of ethnicity, religion, income level, and country of origin, people desire some of the same things for their families. They seek

  • love
  • food and water
  • truth
  • kindness
  • security
  • relationships
  • things to do together

Believe it or not, the 2 things I did most as a volunteer along the River Thames were take photos of visitors and paint faces of young excited travelers. Visiting and connecting while helping with such simple tasks was a fantastic experience. I met many global neighbors I could love and help.

Missions engagement requires a willingness to connect—through everyday life activities—and build relationships with others. Proximity is a main ingredient for missions. Who is physically close to you? At work? At play? At home?

Look around. Whom can you connect with today?

What’s Your Routine?

At every stage in my childhood, I had a bedtime routine. When I was three years old, I insisted that my dad read P.B. Bear’s Birthday Party every single night. No other book would do! When I was five, I got up about 10 seconds after my parents tucked me into bed. I would march into the living room and announce, “I can’t sleep!” Then my dad would carry me back to my room and tuck me in bed for a second time.

Routines are the structure of our everyday lives. Many Christians desire to make spending time with God a part of their daily routine. However, this is easier said than done. When you are already balancing work, school, family, church, and other activities, how can you squeeze in another time commitment?

I faced this question during my freshman year of high school when I decided to read through the entire Bible before I went to college. I set a goal of reading one or two chapters every night before I went to bed. At first it was difficult to keep up the momentum. Sometimes I missed several days in a row, and I fell behind. However, I never quit. Even if I lagged behind schedule, I pressed on.

Who Am I Following?

Have you ever had to follow someone when traveling in a vehicle? It can be quite frustrating if the person leading has forgotten that he or she is leading you, especially if you are in an unfamiliar area. I’m sure we can all relate to having the person in front slip through the yellow light and then here we are stuck, sitting at a red light, trying to watch as far as we can to see where we need to follow.

To be honest, sometimes I feel that the same can be said for my obedience to God. I will run out of fingers and toes to list all the times I tried to be the “lead” car with God. Isn’t it silly? How can I think that I know better than God? When we call it out like this it does sounds silly; however, it’s not always a blatant, “I am going to take the lead, God.”

It begins when we lose our focus. We get so distracted by life events, people, and things around us that we forget to keep our focus on God. We begin to get impatient with God’s timing that we improvise and find a “short-cut.” I don’t know about you, but the “short-cuts” I have taken in my life always make things more difficult and longer in the end.

Trips as a Tool

Missions trips are such a wonderful way to strengthen your group and allow members to exercise their faith. I heard a definition of a missions trip this way—“A useful tool to use your time for His Glory.” That is what we are doing; we’re being a tool in the Master’s hand. Have you ever stopped and thought about how you spend your time and how those in your group spend their time? How we spend our time is really a reflection of the condition of our heart. Serving God through the use of our time shows what our priorities really are.

A Teaching Degree

The box next to "Christian Studies" was marked. My college major was chosen. I felt confident and somehow more mature. Checking that small box on the blue form seemed to be one of the biggest decisions I had ever made.

Why would I choose anything else? God had shown me that I would be serving Him overseas once I graduated so what good would any other major do for me? Two months into college, God began to speak to my heart. He wanted me in the education building. A teacher? Really? I looked into seeing if it could be my minor. No such luck.

Reluctantly, I filled out the form to change my major and over the next three and a half years fell completely in love with teaching. Fast forward four years after graduation, and I'm getting on a plane to go and serve as an international missionary in Madagascar. His plan remained and He did not need my help to get me there.

That teaching degree opened up doors to an English-as-a-second-language community that I would not have had otherwise. He gave me a classroom of precious deaf children that I was welcomed into because of my education degree. He saw the future so much clearer than I ever have.

Are You Really Listening, God?

Many of the population of military veterans I serve in my job as a VA hospital chaplain suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. One such veteran is very special to me, as he is a fellow chaplain. I asked him if PTSD affected his ability to listen to God. Without hesitation, he said, “Absolutely!”

First, he told me his ability to hear at all was affected. Distractions are much worse for one suffering from PTSD than for most of us. Even trying to focus on God still takes concentrated effort.

A career military man, he had trained most of his adult life for war. Though he admits it was a naïve assumption, he thought he would be immune to PTSD since he was serving both God and country. Surely God would protect him so he could minister to those whose only purpose was to protect their country. But that’s not the way it happened. He now suffers from severe PTSD.

Now, he asks, can he still trust he is hearing God correctly? Can he trust God to answer? Listening to God is now a challenge. He finished his conversation with me by saying, “But I heard Him this morning as I preached.” Thanks be to God!

That’s What I Thought He Said

Standing in the living room of the perfect house in Georgia, I looked at my husband and knew what we had thought we heard God say wasn’t correct. The house had it all; it checked all our boxes. Located on a lake, it was just the right style and size, and it was in our budget—only it was in the wrong state!

Moving to Georgia seemed like God’s choice for us. Georgia was closer to our families, the job was great, and multiple opportunities were available for our children and me. It all made sense. Only we had heard wrong. God wanted us to step out in faith and follow Him without knowing what the next step was for us.

After getting over the shock, we confessed our disobedience and stepped out in faith. God quickly led us to another state, where both of our children met their future spouses. God blessed our journey from disobedience to obedience!

Deb Douglas listens and lives missionally in Bossier City, Louisiana.

Wherever He leads, I’ll Go

“Go to the Middle East.”

That was the clearest call I had received from God. The next eight years were spent praying about, dreaming about, and preparing for my move to the Middle East.

I have always been the ambitious sort, the type who prepares for every change and possibility and attempts to plan the next 15 years, now. If possible.

So I went. God gave me the call. And I went.

Naturally, during my eight years of planning I began to dream about what the call from God might mean. I convinced myself He must want me to live overseas forever.

So I told others I would move there for my whole life. And quite honestly, my heart was willing.

But God had different plans.

Getting me there was simply the beginning of the life-changing, faith-rocking journey He was starting me on.

I thought it was a forever kind of call. Instead, God was asking me to follow Him in the faith-based kind of pursuit where He is the Good Shepherd and I am the lamb following Him wherever He would lead me.

Days turned to weeks, and weeks turned to years and slowly God began to whisper to me that it was time to move home.

Nothing Wasted

I love to sew! When I sew, I ponder, figure, and experiment until I find a way to use the least amount of fabric possible. I do not want anything wasted. It’s the same with life. I do not want to waste anything. I want to learn from every experience.

Finding out that my husband and I had misheard God’s direction and plan, the two of us puzzled over the experience in order not to waste any knowledge that could be gained from it. We realized this experience taught us to listen to God without having a preconceived idea of what He is going to say.

The misunderstanding occurred during a hectic season in our life; we learned to hear God without the noise of daily life. Taking a step away from the busy-ness of life takes away distractions from hearing clearly.

It also taught us to admit we heard wrong quickly and then follow. God blesses when we listen and obey!

Deb Douglas listens and lives missionally in Bossier City, Louisiana.

Is That What You Said, God?

I was speaking to a group of women in a Haitian church in Canada. Since I am one of the dwindling number of Americans who only speak one language, I needed a translator. A beautiful young Haitian woman home from college on summer vacation was mine. She was not a professional translator but seemed to understand what I was saying. However, there were a number of times that weekend when the women giggled when I thought I was being serious or looked concerned when I thought I was being funny.

In my work as a hospital chaplain, my most dreaded visits are those with patients on a ventilator. Somewhat sedated with a huge tube down their throats and out their mouths, they try to tell me something. How often I plead with God on those visits, “Help me understand so I can minister to their needs. Let me not offer an ice chip when they need to hear about Living Water.”

And there are times when I’m listening to God that I similarly plead, “Help me understand, God, so I can obey!”

Dianne Swaim writes from North Little Rock, Arkansas. Her ministry email address is dianne@freshspirit.com

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