myMISSION

The Eyes to See

The hearts of missionaries in full passion is a beautiful thing to behold. In my time in the Middle East, I had the opportunity to encounter the beauty of God’s children loving the nations, their neighbors, and embracing God’s vision for the world.

When I first met Frank* and LeeAnn*, they greeted me with flowers, balloons, hugs, and smiles at the airport. Stepping off the plane to my new home, I had no idea what to expect. When I walked around the corner to this couple holding my name on a handwritten sign, I knew they were my new home.

Frank and LeeAnn were one of the most humble and selfless couples I had ever met, and they loved their Middle Eastern people group. Everywhere they went in the city, they saw people. Any store they entered into. Any person they encountered on the street. Any waiter who took their order was someone for them to love and share Jesus with.

When Praising is Perilous

This Easter, while many of us donned new dresses and enjoyed hearty meals with our families, many believers around the world risked their lives in order to gather and celebrate their risen Savior. One such believer is Julia*. Julia’s husband pastors a church in a country halfway across the globe, and they have young children. Julia wrote to our small group soon after the Easter holiday to update us on their missions work and to request prayer. Julia told us they learned that the country’s officials had ordered special security for their Easter services because they had received credible threats involving attacks to the church. Julia shared with us the challenge of explaining the situation to their children that, even though their very lives might be at stake, they couldn’t neglect the task before them: to share the gospel with the people they’ve been called to serve.

Pause to Celebrate

Sometimes I miss my childhood days when everything seemed to stop for the summer.

For most working adults, jobs, chores, and responsibilities go on straight through summer with little to no change of pace.

Sigh.

OK, enough dreary thinking! The end of the church year is a time to celebrate! Our lives won’t stop for the summer, but we can pause and reflect on what we have learned this year as individuals and through our myMISSION groups.

This year, I can celebrate getting married and launching a new chapter in my professional life. I’ve grown closer to the Lord and developed a more consistent prayer life than I have had in the past. My husband and I have gotten involved in a new Sunday School class where we discuss deep spiritual truths and minister to each other and our community.

Skype ‘Scape

You can meet a missionary! Get some friends to join you and learn about how missionaries do their work in answer to God’s call.

Putting a face on missions is an exciting experience that can help you understand how important your prayer and financial support are. Here are some tips for hosting a successful event featuring missionaries who serve in North America and overseas.

 

What Makes an Event Successful?

1. Begin early. Enlist someone to help you make arrangements to talk to missionaries via Skype. You’ll need to confirm the date, time, and questions you will be asking. Go to namb.net for information about contacting a North American missionary, or to imb.org for info about international missionaries.

2. Make technical arrangements. Ensure connections and monitor are available and sound is appropriate. The success of the event hinges on these arrangements!

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May I Rest?

May . . .

I love May . . .

Warm air, sunshine, flowers, birds, strawberries—even mangos—my local store has mangos! What’s not to love? We have a holiday in May. It’s the end of school. My daughter was born in May. I love May . . .

So why am I tired? I don’t know about you but for some reason, this year, I’m not finding that extra boost of energy and excitement. Everything is good; it’s actually great! My family is great. I am happy, healthy, loving my job, growing in a community, and having opportunities to be on mission. Hmm . . . maybe, this May, I just need a bit of rest.

When you lead something—a group, a family, a trip, anything—you can become tired. I hear it’s OK to be tired. Jesus was tired. He took time to sleep in a boat, walk in a garden, pray alone, go to weddings, talk with friends, and even rest at a well.

Bigger Than Me

In 1953, Dr. Wana Ann Fort arrived in Zimbabwe, where she and her husband became the first doctors at the primitive Sanyati Baptist Hospital. In addition to serving as a doctor, Wana Ann was a cook, Sunday School teacher, hospital correspondent, language student, and mother of five sons.

Life on the missions field was difficult to say the least. The Forts not only faced physical and environmental challenges but also encountered a culture deeply rooted in witchcraft. The more the Forts understood the people’s tribal religion, the more they desired to show them the light of Christ.

Wana Ann tells incredible stories about how God changed the lives of the people in Sanyati in her memoir, A Thousand Times, Yes. I love this book and encourage my friends to read it, especially those who are interested in medical missions.

One day I loaned the book to my friend Annie, who is studying to be a physician’s assistant. A few months later, she called me and said, “Rachel, you’re not going to believe this!”

Breaking the Selfish Cycle

I am a selfish person.

I want things to happen the way I want them to happen and when I want them to happen.

And, if I may be so bold, you are a selfish person, too.

“Looking out for number one” is more than just a cultural phenomenon. Selfishness is rooted deeply in our fallen, sinful nature.

Even as a follower of Christ, I exhibit self-centered tendencies daily.

I struggle with this “Selfish Cycle”:

  1. I act selfishly.
  2. I realize I have been selfish and regret it.
  3. I put myself down for being selfish.
  4. I try to make up for being selfish by doing something good.
  5. I am proud of myself for the good things I have done.
  6. I realize that I am being prideful.
  7. Repeat from step 2.

Sound familiar?

The Source of Selfless Joy

Until recently, my one-year-old still woke overnight to eat. Every night since his birth, he would wake around midnight to 2 a.m. for this purpose. For the first six months of his life, I was his only source of nutrition, so I was burning the midnight oil with him every night. After I returned to work, we transitioned to a bottle, which meant freedom—my husband could now share in the midnight feedings. For weeks, I would feign sleep or ask my husband to take the night shift because, after all, I’d woken with him exclusively for six months. It was about time he shared the responsibility.

Weeks turned into months, however, and my husband was regularly exhausted from night shift duty. I could see his exhaustion, yet I still let him get up for the majority of night feedings each week. I allowed my desire for sleep to deprive my husband of much-needed rest. I acted like my husband owed me for all of those sleepless nights I endured, and I didn’t care enough about my husband’s needs to share the burden. I was being selfish.

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.

Missional Perseverance

As the communications specialist for Kentucky Woman’s Missionary Union, I hear a lot of churchy buzzwords every day I’m in the office: missional, sacrificial, authentic, discipleship.

Sometimes in my work environment, it is hard to remember what those words really mean. I can show you hundreds of examples of Christians who are living missionally, but I struggle to live missionally myself.

Ninety-nine percent of the time, I am surrounded by Christians. I have to be very intentional about interacting with people outside my normal circle in order share my faith. For an introvert like me, that is a real challenge.

Chances are that your struggle is very different from mine. Living a missional lifestyle is usually not the most popular choice. It is not an easy lifestyle in any environment.

James 1:2­­–3 (NIV) says, “Consider it pure joy . . . whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

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