myMISSION

Why? When? How Come?

I just love when my children ask me questions that I am required to delicately think of age-appropriate answers for (sense the sarcasm?). Children have no filter so a Mama has to always be on her toes. There have been times when their questions make me smile, like when my five-year-old wanted to know why his athletic shorts did not have a protective cup like his eight-year-old brother’s. He stated he was not going to play baseball without having one himself.

Then there are the more serious questions like when my mother was involved in a serious accident earlier this year and my boys wanted to know if Grandma was going to walk again? I did not have a definite answer to give, but my five-year-old did. He proudly spoke up and said, “If Grandma has to be in a wheelchair then we will get Daddy to build her a ramp so she can get in our house.” His precious heart was so overwhelmed with the circumstances and trying to figure out the future that he was seeking to find a solution.

Antonym of Sorrow

Hope.

In the midst of devastation, people are able to find hope—this is my life’s greatest challenge.

Living in West Africa in the second poorest country in the world for two summers, I observed the most beautiful smiles I had ever seen in the middle of devastating poverty. This joy felt impossible to wrap my head around.

Then I lived in the Middle East for two years, hearing stories of God’s Kingdom expanding throughout the lands. I saw a woman throw her head back in laughter—true joy—in the middle of her homeland being destroyed, when only hours before she recounted story after story to me about how her relatives were brutally murdered in the streets. 

How can this be?

The gospel is powerful. It’s not a story we get to share or we have to share. God has flipped our world’s story of brokenness on its head. When we think all is lost; it’s not.

A Small Me in a Big World

SPOILER ALERT: For anyone who hasn’t heard, the Tooth Fairy is not real. When I was seven years old, I demanded the truth from my can’t-keep-a-secret grandmother. Although I had been suspicious, the Tooth Fairy revelation changed the way I viewed my tiny world. I realized I had not fully understood something, and I needed to shift my perspective.

Fast-forward 13 years, and my perspective on life continues to expand. College makes you realize that you’re a little person in a very big world. You become aware of serious social issues, extreme poverty, and people groups still unreached by the gospel. You come to the sobering realization that you can’t fix all of the world’s problems. However, the real question is not what can’t you do, but what can you do.

1. Educate yourself.

Sometimes it is hard to relate to people who are different from us. As Christians, we can’t write off people groups around the world because they’re from a different culture or background. Instead of ignoring what we don’t understand, we need to dig deeper. The more we understand, the more we can tell them about Jesus.

2. Find your passion.

Why Women Join Groups

I know many of you have thought of this challenge—how do we get younger women involved in missions? Why don’t more women come to the group? Or if you haven’t started a group yet, why is it not on more people’s radar? Maybe you are very passionate about missions, but it doesn’t seem that others share your passion at times.

Studies have been done in the secular and Christian world as to why women join all kinds of groups, but I feel we can apply the research to growing our myMISSION groups. A woman joins a group for these four main reasons:

The Action of Compassion

"Salama!" She looked up, surprised that a foreigner was speaking her heart language. She was a shop keeper, peddling goods to foreigners. No one had ever stopped just to talk with her. It was on that day that she knew there was something different about this foreigner who wanted more than a colorful basket.

Choosing to stay that first time I sat down with her was a big deal. I was nervous, and anything but fluent in her language. However, I knew the Lord was telling me to sit on that rickety wooden bench. Sitting there in the sun, trying to piece together the vocabulary that I recognized, I wondered what I was doing. Surely, this is not what missions looks like.

Looking back, on that day, something changed. She became real to me; not someone I saw in passing or prayed for off a prayer card. I heard stories of her three girls and the school they attended. She talked about her husband and how he had not accepted the Truth in his heart. My heart broke as she told me that she had learned to read but could not afford a Bible. I was introduced to compassion. For the first time it was not just a word, but an emotion that produced an action.

Mom . . . I’m hungry

As a mother I am sure you can relate to the following scenario: Mom enters kitchen to find pantry door wide open, refrigerator door open and standing in the coolness of the fridge a child searching high and low for . . . something to eat. I am fairly certain you have also heard your child say these four famous words, “There’s nothing to eat.” It can be very frustrating to hear these words come out of your child’s mouth when you know there are boys and girls who truly have nothing to eat, let alone have the luxury of being choosy.

It is heartbreaking to see pictures from around the world of hungry children who are not guaranteed to go to bed with a full tummy. The thought of world hunger relief can be very overwhelming. Where do we start? How can we help? I believe before you can go global you need to address local too. We need to ensure that we are aware and engaged in meeting the needs of our own community.

The Cyclone

The email from the embassy should have been our first clue. Rumors of cyclone seasons of past were quickly turning into reality. After watching the weather and talking with other missionaries, we decided to stay put. A little rain in the dry land of Tulear would be nice!

Two days in, as I ran around the house putting buckets under leaks, I wondered if staying was the right choice. Electricity had been cut the moment the rains started and the wind gusts were powerful enough to blow a person down. When it finally stopped, and we stepped outside, I realized how selfish my thoughts had been.

Our home was standing but the Malagasy ones were destroyed. Our lives were inconvenienced but theirs were devastated. I had never seen such destruction in all of my life. Families had lost loved ones in the flash flooding. The small amounts of rice or vegetables they had were gone. The homes that held their few possessions were washed away. My eyes filled with tears, and my heart was flooded with grief. What could we do? How could we help?

Your Choice

Would you describe your myMISSION group as predictable? What if your group never knew what to expect next? Does your group meet at a location in your church or do you meet in a home? My preference is meeting in a home. It makes me feel more relaxed and better able to connect. It’s a warmer atmosphere if I’m inviting someone to come along for the first time with me. Ask your group members what their preference is.

Ever thought of taking your meeting on the road? How about meeting in a coffee shop occasionally? Sometimes my team leader at work would announce that our monthly team meeting was going to be at a nearby coffee shop. We would get our hot drinks, gather around, and accomplish much. Sometimes someone at another table would comment on our meeting or ask questions of one of us. What if the patrons overheard about the work of a missionary or parts of a missional Bible study? What if they listened in as you prayed?

Perspectives of Memory

I’m starving! Let’s get something to eat!

These are phrases we say flippantly after a few hours without a meal.

Sitting in my fully-furnished home, drinking my electricity-produced cup of coffee, my mind wanders to distant lands, lands where children are the last to eat because the patriarchs and the matriarchs keep the family farm thriving so they must find sustenance first and because in some cultures children’s needs are not valued. There were children whose stomachs were bloated due to dysentery and malnourishment as they rummaged through my trash in Sub-Saharan Africa to find a morsel I threw away.

My thoughts stray to decaying, abandoned homes in the Middle East where sitting on floors I heard story after story of Syrian refugees who were struggling to provide meals for their families and were fearing the future of their country. Entire communities within Syria were being cut off from food supplies, and those who pursued refuge in other countries were quickly finding homelessness and hunger.

Witnessing Their Way

 What first enters your mind when you hear the phrase “missions trip”? Is it construction projects, international travels, or children’s camps? Most trips have a set “mission.” However, I’ve realized that our plans are pointless if we don’t look for the needs of people and meet them where they are.

A few years ago I went on a missions trip to the Golden Isles in Georgia, and one day we were scheduled to play games with residents at a nursing home. I love board games and couldn’t wait to round up a group of seniors for some good old competition.   

We set up Mexican Train Dominoes, and I sat next to a woman named Miss Flora. “I don’t want to play the game,” she told me.

“Of course you want to play!” I exclaimed.

“I’m blind,” Miss Flora said curtly.

After an awkward pause, I said, “Well, Miss Flora, we can be on a team. I can tell you everything that is going on!” It didn’t take me long to realize that listening to the number of dots on dominos was not very fun.

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