“I did not know if I would be an effective missionary.”
One doubt I had was whether or not I would be effective. Though my heart was full of desire to go, my mind was full of doubts as to my ability to make a real difference in the lives of the Albanian people.
Over the years, my doubts have remained! On one hand I look at the ministries I’ve started and helped others get plugged into and I’m satisfied. But I also realize that whatever good I’ve done, whether it be the number of ministries started, or souls won to Christ, must be viewed in the light of my degree of surrender to Christ. My doubts have served as a thorn so that my sense of accomplishment may not rest on my good works, but on Christ and his righteousness.
I think our longevity on the field depends on our dependence on God’s grace. Doubts and feelings of inadequacy are necessary for us to remain qualified for the tasks before us.
Answer from Nathan in Albania, who has served with Christar for more than fifteen years.
“I was surprised that it took so long to get there.”
I was really surprised that the Lord and our mission group waited so long to send us. We pastored a rural congregation for five years, after I served a year in short-term missions while my husband was an assistant pastor. This long period seemed so difficult. We were ready; we though we had so much to give. Bring it on!
Then we went to Korea. The language, the culture, our ignorance of the country, and our arrogance in thinking we knew all the answers threw us for a loop. We were not as ready as we thought.
We had needed that time. We were newly married, then with two new babies. We were also dirt poor! God was gracious to only hold us off for those five years when we learned a little on how to lean on him. We learned so much from our brothers and sisters in Korea, and we are better, much better, for it today.
Answer from Char in South Africa, who has served with Foursquare in Korea, as well as independently in China and Africa for more than twenty-five years.
“I did not anticipate friendly fire.”
When we begin to talk about engaging in kingdom expansion, spiritual attack will come, and often early on our journey it comes as “friendly fire.” By that I mean opposition comes from someone we would not normally expect it from: maybe a family member, a friend, or someone in church or ministry leadership. We are surprised, maybe shocked, and quickly discouraged, feeling this just shouldn’t be!
Often the attack is in the form of an accusation, coming from people who know us and are believers. This is what can make it so discouraging. We think these people should be for us, then we find them saying things about us that are unkind and usually untrue. Friendly fire. What should we do?
First, we do what scripture instructs us to do: stand firm. This means we do not quit and run. Nor do we try to attack. We stand firm:
– Firm in the conviction that we are being obedient to God’s direction in our life;
– Firm in our faith that God knows exactly what is happening and knows how to protect us;
– Firm in our commitment to follow Jesus, regardless of the cost;
– Firm in our understanding that the enemy will flee as we resist him (James 4:7).
This topic is one of the themes discussed in The Journey Deepens weekend retreats for prospective missionaries.