myMISSION Blog

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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