myMISSION Missionary Blog

Intentionally Present

I recently returned to my current home after spending a week in an extremely large and diverse city. I noticed this pattern of distracting oneself while I was there. Most people did not talk to anyone they did not know. In fact, probably about 75 percent of the people I encountered had on some type of headphones or were absorbed in their electronic devices.

They may have thought that having headphones on or staring at a device in their hands would deter people from talking with them, and for most people, that may have been the case. But I took it as a challenge: how many people can I get to talk with me?

The result was great. When I started to talk with people, nearly all of them at least appeared to enjoy making a connection with someone. And even more than that, every day I was able to share at least once the full gospel—Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection—with someone on public transportation!

Identity and Purpose

Jesus was aware of who He was. He knew why He had to humble Himself and take on the likeness of man. He was obedient to the point of death and died on a cross for our sins fulfilling the requirement of the law. And because of Jesus’ resurrection from the grave, we have hope of life eternal with Him.

Just as Jesus knew who He was and what His purpose was here, those of us who have believed in Jesus by God’s grace can also know who we are and what our purpose is here. When we read the Bible, it is easy to see that our purpose is to bring God glory. The difficulty comes in knowing how to use our gifts and skills to bring Him glory.

God has made us each with distinct interests and gifts, and we can look at those and begin to see what the Lord has in mind for us.

Why Guard Our Time?

We are all busy in one way or another. Some of us may have children. We have things like jobs that take over our lives or hobbies we undertake to keep us busy, but none of these things should be the most crucial aspect in a believer’s life. The most significant characteristic of the believers’ life should be his or her time with God.

Nothing you do will be more important than being with God.

I recognize that all-or-nothing statements do not tend to go over well with us, and usually we tend to find loopholes, concessions, or reasons why those statements do not apply to us. But believer, to find an exception to this statement would be a great folly, because we know our Father by reading His Word, and we understand what His will is through His Word.

When we read the Bible, God is sanctifying us in His truth (John 17:17). He sanctifies us because He is sending us out into the world. For some, the world may be overseas. For some, it may be their job. For others, it may be their family. And He sends us out into the world to share the good news of Jesus Christ so that all who believe in Him will have life (John 20:31).

The Benefit of Staring

I have always been an observer. In my childhood years, some (namely my mom) might have called me someone who “stared.” She constantly reprimanded me in public places because my gaze would set on the most interesting figure in the room, and I would stare until my mind had found a conclusion to my curiosity.

Maybe I still am this way, but I try to be more covert in my observations of other people and less like 7-year-old Abi, with her mouth gaping open.

I have travelled the world and observed some interesting things in the public sphere, but the observations that have impacted me the most and at a deep level were those of the people who were in my direct community.

Every night as a child I would creep around the house, in denial of the 9:00 bedtime rule, and I would watch her.

She tidied up our home, watched the 10:00 news, and got ready for bed. Sneaking around, I would check in on these routines to assure my mind the world was spinning exactly as it should.

In the Stillness

“Be still and know that I am God,” seems to be a common verse from Psalms that Christians say or hang on their walls within their homes.

We try to remind our hearts to be still and know He is God.

But do we do it?

I don’t know about you, but this does not come natural to my Type-A, constantly creating to-do lists personality. Now maybe you are a natural at it and easily find time of aloneness (and if so, please tell me your ways).

I imagine for the majority of us, stillness is not something we try to attain often in our lives. It seems like days, weeks, and months can go by within the routine and demands and then one day we wake up and realize we haven’t been still before God in quite some time. In fact, when was the last time we stopped to hear His voice?

In different seasons, I have had the privilege to have a slower schedule and bask in stillness before God. So my heart has tasted and knows the sweetness of listening to His still, small voice.

No Sweeter Name

Jesus.

A name with a variety of thoughts, connotations, and feelings attached to it. In our culture, we hear the name used in slang or as a swear word. The name evokes opinions and thoughts as to who He was in history and, for Christians, what He means to them presently.

Many of us have grown up our whole lives hearing this name, whether it was in a church setting or in passing conversations.

We pulled into the village, unloaded our belongings at our hut compound and began to walk around meeting our new neighbors.

The desert sand was soft underneath my worn out sandals as they pressed down with each step sinking. Step after step we approached a smaller cluster of huts to introduce ourselves.

“Hi, my name is Abigail. I am from America and we are going to live in your village this summer to tell you about Jesus.” I spouted off in her language joyfully as I met the apprehensive villager staring back at me.

“Who?”

The Mission of Summer

Summer is advancing on us with warmer days, tank tops, and cookouts. Summertime is typically a change in our routines. It’s time for family vacations, church activities at the parks, and, for some of us, summer missions trips.

If you are reading this blog, I am going to assume you have a heart for the world and for serving the community around you. Maybe God has called you to a specific people group, demographic, or ministry to volunteer in or partner with in your community. Maybe this summer is a time where you are gearing up to go on a missions trip to the other side of the world or lead a team to a place you have been visiting for years.

Even though we have a heart for the world, sometimes our life circumstances don’t allow us to board a 747 for Asia. Maybe you have a full-time job that keeps tight reign on your vacation hours, maybe you have aging parents, or maybe you’re like me and my third-trimester self who won’t be boarding a plane anywhere unless it’s going to the labor unit at a hospital.

Letting Go

“The next ten years, at least,” was always my answer when people asked me how long I wanted to live in the Middle East. Following the greats before me like Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon, I admired the kind of faith and sacrifice they possessed.

My whole life geared toward that moment of stepping on the plane and beginning this adventure I had prayed for, researched, and anticipated.

In that moment, I thought that was the final surrender, to leave behind my family, my friends, my comforts, and my ability to communicate within my culture. I really did think I had reached my one big free fall and everything after was going to be a continuum based off of that jump.

Little did I know the true surrender would happen 2 years later, when God told me my one-way-ticket plan was not His and it was time to go back.

What?

Did I hear this all wrong?

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.

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.

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