His Rich Love Exceeds Our Praise

Come thou fount of ev’ry blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace.
Streams of mercy never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise!

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Happy Thanksgiving! Today we planned to meet with our teammates for a Thanksgiving celebration, but we canceled when we heard that one of their children was ill. We have had illness sweep through our family since the end of July, and it has been exhausting to have so few days of health. So we didn’t want to chance getting sick again. Here’s how we spent our Thanksgiving day on foreign soil.

I heard that there were turkeys at Woolworths, so Seth ran out and bought one. $18.50 for an almost 9-pounder. It was worth it! I spent the day cooking: made the turkey of course, a 3-layer “pumpkin” cake (I used butternut) with maple frosting (I didn’t have cream cheese for it, but the butter frosting was still very good!) using two cake pans and a pie pan since I don’t have three round cake pans (Caleb promptly dropped the pie pan and it shattered all over the floor during clean-up tonight–he’s my “accident boy” but also my best worker, so how can I complain?), mash and gravy, dinner rolls, cheesy broccoli, and sweet and sour cabbage. (I know that’s a weird item for Thanksgiving, but today was a study in improvisation!)

IMG_1252 IMG_1253In the morning the kids watched a little story about the Pilgrims’ journey on the Mayflower, and we had a serious Candyland competition. In the afternoon, I cooked and cared for the baby, and Seth took the kids on a hike on a nearby forest plantation. They came back exhausted and hungry.

IMG_1287 IMG_1263 IMG_1279The electricity went off for an hour and a half while I was cooking. We planned to spend our evening playing the board game Settlers of Catan after a time of prayer and praise. But even though it’s an American holiday, life goes on as usual for all of the Africans. We’ve gotten two hospital calls today, and the latter ended up changing our plans.

The lady who stayed with us last year, who got married and is now expecting her second child, called me. She’s gone into early labor and needed advice to go to the hospital. I don’t think she’s too terribly early, though, but anyhow, please pray for her. And a former LBI student, whom we haven’t heard from in a few years, called saying that he was in a car accident and is at the hospital, and he asked for a visit and some food and clothing. The accident was terrible. We were reminded to be grateful for our safety on the roads here. So many accidents here end in fatalities because of slow emergency services and not enough medical services.

IMG_1282 IMG_1264Tonight and last night around the dinner table, we shared things for which we were thankful. Last year at this time, we had no idea how much our lives would change in one week’s time and over the following year. Wow, so much has changed!

We’ve never worried about money in the past, but because of so many changes, this year we had some worried times. But God has met every need and many wants. He has given us physical blessings in abundance.

But even more importantly, I was thankful tonight for His “rod,” if I can call it that. I am not sure that He has been chastening us this year, but whatever you call it, I am thankful for the trials we have gone through. We have grown spiritually because of them.

Romans 8 tells us that He works all these things to our good so that we can be conformed into Christ’s image. Even a criminal attack or a severely broken arm or transplanting my family several times when they are already unstable–these things that we might naturally think are not good–are good if they make us more like Christ. We just need to see it through God’s eyes. He is doing good to us when He helps us to grow spiritually. He is showing great lovingkindness even in the bitter medicine He gives us to heal us from our ravaging diseases (sins). I am so thankful for His loving, teaching hand, even when it is heavy.

IMG_1277I read this poem by William Cowper the other day and was blessed by it, especially stanzas 3-5. This wonderful post at the Baptist Missionary Women blog explains so well how my gratitude has grown since becoming a missionary!

Seth and I were moved to tears of gratitude tonight at our dinner table at God’s incredible physical and spiritual blessings to us this year. We finished our time of prayer and praise by reading this poem by Isaac Watts, a paraphrased poem of Psalm 103:

1  The Lord, how wondrous are his ways!
How firm his truth! how large his grace!
He takes his mercy for his throne,
And thence he makes his glories known.

2  Not half so high his power hath spread
The starry heav’ns above our head,
As his rich love exceeds our praise,
Exceeds the highest hopes we raise.

3  Not half so far hath nature placed
The rising morning from the west,
As his forgiving grace removes
The daily guilt of those he loves.

4  How slowly doth his wrath arise!
On swifter wings salvation flies;
And if he lets his anger burn,
How soon his frowns to pity turn!

5  Amidst his wrath compassion shines;
His strokes are lighter than our sins;
And while his rod corrects his saints,
His ear indulges their complaints.

6  So fathers their young son chastise
With gentle hand and melting eyes;
The children weep beneath the smart,
And move the pity of their heart.

PAUSE.

7  The mighty God, the wise and just,
Knows that our frame is feeble dust;
And will no heavy loads impose
Beyond the strength that he bestows.

8  He knows how soon our nature dies,
Blasted by ev’ry wind that flies;
Like grass we spring, and die as soon,
Or morning flowers that fade at noon.

9  But his eternal love is sure
To all the saints, and shall endure;
From age to age his truth shall reign,
Nor children’s children hope in vain.

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The Racist Missionary

Jonah is an anomaly.

His book is unique among the prophets because it is entirely autobiographical. He did not desire the incredible ministry successes he experienced. God took the initiative to show His grace to the Assyrians by sending them a missionary. Jonah was not merely apathetic about this, he was antipathetic–he did not want that ethnic group to be converted. They were a different skin color, language group, and geography from him; and their culture was vastly different. He wasn’t interested in their conversion.

And after ten years on the mission field, I can see that Jonah was not the only missionary to struggle with racist feelings.

What, a racist missionary? Isn’t that an oxymoron? How could a racist be a missionary? Well, emotions of bitterness and cynicism towards the people on your field don’t come all at once. Missionaries don’t ever go to the field thinking that they could even become close to being racist! After all, they’ve given up everything because of their love for another people group, right? Nevertheless, negative emotions towards the very people you want to love can creep in over time after many adverse culture-shocking experiences. (Look at the results of “culture stress.”)

jonah gourdJonah is a good bad example of NOT loving the people to whom you are sent. Thus Jonah’s story is a great starting-place in a biblical discussion of racism. Jonah was “very angry” when God showed mercy to the Ninevites. So God used an object lesson of a quick-growing, then quick-dying gourd, with some gentle questions, followed up with a gentle, insightful rebuke to show Jonah that his hatred towards the Ninevites was wrong.

And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd?

And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.

Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night:  And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

~Jonah 4:9-11

Who are these persons that God is talking about? Who cannot tell the difference between their right and left hands? Isn’t it the children? In other words, some litmus tests of whether you are racist or not are the following:

  • if you are unable to show love towards people from another ethnicity
  • if you wish for genocide including the children
  • if you believe that a person from that race cannot be converted, or
  • if you believe that all the people in that culture are only bad, thus even the children have no good potential.

I still remember a defining moment for Seth and me as new missionaries. We had just moved to a rural village in South Africa and were visiting neighbors in an attempt to meet them and learn their culture. We came across an old man who had been almost raised by Swiss Presbyterian missionaries who pioneered missions to the Tsonga people. They had sent him to school abroad, and his English was excellent.

Trying to answer his wife’s questions as to why we were there, we began evangelizing, assuming that they knew basic ideas of salvation and the Gospel because of their background as staunch Presbyterians. Imagine our surprise when his wife inquired what we meant by “salvation.” She queried, “You mean, baptism?” Startled, Seth began expounding the Gospel. Her husband cut us off with an eye-opening statement: “Oh, you’ll never get them to understand details like that. These people will never get the details.”

The Gospel? Details? Sadly this man was a living example of his own stereotype.

I remember another shocking scene in my first year here. Our landlord came over drunk one night to visit with us. I will never forget him pouring beer on the hood of our pick-up truck for his pet monkey to lap up, while saying, “This chimp is smarter than any of those * blacks.”

After years of ministering to a pagan culture, missionaries can get very discouraged from witnessing repeated sinful behaviors. They can get bitter from attacks or disappointments by untrustworthy people. They can become cynical, wondering if fruit is real or how long it’ll last this time. Harmful generalizations are made: “These people are all like that. They will never get better.”

Missionaries to less civilized people groups eventually have to deal with the question, “Why are these people like that?” When a missionary hits that disillusioned stage of being so frustrated, it seems that two paths lie before him. He can explain the deficiencies he sees in another culture in one of two ways:

He could say that those people are like that because they are inherently inferior. They are simply unable to become an enlightened, Christian culture. He could become like our landlord, bitterly saying that the people have no more hope than animals. In other words, he could become a racist.

We have decided to take the second path, however, which explains stereotypical problems of another race with this answer: The Devil has blinded their culture for so many thousands of centuries and they have had so little common grace given to them, that they need a lot more time and work of the Holy Spirit to reflect Christianity in their culture. (2 Cor. 4:4) In other words, it is Satan we are fighting, not people.

Missionaries need to guard their hearts and thinking about pagan cultures. If you don’t believe that cultural sins and deficiencies are strongholds of Satan, and that these are spiritual issues deserving of your empathy, you will become a racist missionary, constantly embittered and frustrated instead of responding with compassion. Because if the answer is not that the Devil has a stronghold in that culture, then the answer is that those people are just inferior, inherently, for centuries. And that is racist.

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The Most Undesired Ministry Success Ever

Soon after thinking about a summary of Noah’s ministry, I recalled a sermon my husband preached at a supporting church on the book of Jonah. We had fun contrasting the two “ministries.”


Noah

Mission field: the very wicked people of the world
Message: total destruction
Converts: only his family (eight people)
Reaction: a sacrifice of thanks

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Mission field: the very wicked people of the capital city of Israel’s enemies
Message: total destruction
Converts: everyone, from the greatest to the least
Reaction: anger, wishes to die


What fantastic irony! Can you think of two more polar opposites in Scripture? Noah preaches and prepares an ark for salvation but sees no fruit from his efforts outside of his family. But he praises the Lord for their salvation, this little fruit that came from his long ministry.

Jonah, on the other hand, doesn’t want to see the salvation of the Ninevites, even though he himself has been so miraculously saved from a watery death. His sermon is as short and perfunctory as can be (eight words in English), and yet he has incredible success in a mass revival that involves even the beasts fasting and wearing sackcloth!

Jonah by George Frederick Watts

Jonah by George Frederick Watts

His angry reaction is even more incredible. I mean–what missionary doesn’t long to see a revival like that? We can’t even tell if he made it the three days the Bible says it took to cross the city before repentance falls on the people. But he is angry at God’s great mercy, at his goodness. His emotions are extreme: “It displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.”

He spits out his prayer, which with your permission, could be summarized in modern speech, “I knew you’d be like that! You know… GOOD. I’d rather die than see this!”

We can learn so much from the book of Jonah. But for now, what can we learn from a comparison of Noah’s and Jonah’s ministries? I think we can be encouraged by the answer to a natural question that might come up when comparing the two ministries.

Why was Jonah’s ministry so successful, though so vehemently undesired, when Noah’s ministry was dry as a desert? (That is, ahem, until the waters covered the earth.)

There is only one answer. I’ll use Jonah’s words:

SALVATION is OF THE LORD.

That is the only explanation for such vast differences between the two ministry results, especially when we consider that Jonah actually worked and prayed against the salvation of the Ninevites!

Look at all the actions the Lord does in the book of Jonah:

  • He calls Jonah. “The word of the Lord came unto Jonah…, saying, ‘Arise, go.'”
  • …the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea…
  • …the Lord…which hath made the sea and the dry land…
  • …the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah.
  • [according to Jonah] “He heard me…thou heardest my voice. For thou hadst cast me into the deep….Yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God.
  • And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.
  • And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go…and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.”
  • And God saw their works…
  • And God repented of the evil that He had said that He would do unto them; and He did it not.
  • He gently questions Jonah, “Doest thou well to be angry?”
  • …the Lord God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief.
  • But God prepared a worm…
  • …God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun…

After being attacked by criminals, a few pastors asked if I was struggling to believe in God’s goodness. Honestly, at the beginning, I wasn’t struggling very much on that point. I knew God was good, if for no other reason than that He saved our lives!

jonah gourdActually I admitted that where I struggled to believe in God’s goodness and love towards us was in the extreme difficulty and scant results of our evangelism efforts. I am sure many missionaries can relate to struggling with a feeling of bitterness towards our Lord. “I gave up all ___ for You, and where are You? Why aren’t You blessing our ministry? Where’s the fruit?”

This is actually nothing but a feeling of entitlement that God owes us certain glories for what we’ve sacrificed for Him, an expectation of a certain minimum of results. But hasn’t it been said so many times in the Bible, that God is the One responsible for our ministry successes?

  • “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
  • “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.”
  • Even the pagan sailors whom Jonah sailed with admitted, “…thou, O Lord, hast done as it pleased thee.”

It is initially discouragingly humbling for us to realize that it is not our charisma or plans or goodwill or activities that effect revival. It is the wind of God blowing where it will.

But there is one thing that we can do, that we must do, in order to see God’s hand at work. We must go. And we must preach.

jonah preachingWhy God, with all of His amazing power and mercy, has chosen to use such a weak tool as the foolishness of preaching, is a mystery to me. But He told us to go, and He said that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, and He said that they cannot believe unless they hear, and they cannot hear without a preacher. So…

…don’t be discouraged by the truth that God is ultimately responsible for the salvation of souls on your field. Let that truth encourage you. He said He would do it. It may not be as immediate as it was with Jonah; in fact, it could take quite a long time, but He will go with you, and He will build His church.

And what should be our only response?

Definitely not anger:
“Why are You doing it this way?”

But gratitude and humility. Embrace humility:
“Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?”

And gratitude:
“You saved me and included me in Your plan of salvation for the Tsonga people? Thank You, Lord. You, O Lord, have done as it pleased You.”

Salvation is of the LORD.

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The Most Successful Ministry Failure Ever

When Seth and I were seeking counsel on whether or not to return to our suddenly-shockingly dangerous mission field, one counselor made some pithy statements that stuck with me; and I’ve ruminated on them since.

That meeting was quite humbling, because the take-away main point had to do with how unnecessary we are. We really needed convincing on that point! :) When we contemplated leaving Africa, we couldn’t get around the “need” for laborers in our field.

Ours is a pioneer mission field. Swiss Presbyterian missionaries laid a wonderful foundation in the last century by translating the entire Bible, translating hymns and inventing a musical notation system for a hymnal, starting schools and hospitals, and building Presbyterian churches. Unfortunately by the ’50s,  they were going liberal in their theology and lost the Gospel; and by the ’60s, the missionaries were gone.

We, along with our teammates, and a national pastor or possibly two, are the only true churches with a Gospel witness in about 2.2 million Tsonga people in South Africa, and 3.1 million more in Mozambique. Truly the laborers are few! Who else, we wondered, would go through the struggle to learn this African language that had no language school? Learning the language and culture was an investment we weren’t going to easily give up.

And we hadn’t been “successful” enough yet to leave! Our infant church needed us. It wasn’t ready to stand on its own.

But this counselor wanted to make a point even more important than our need for humility (and yes, even he, I think, would concede that our field does “need” laborers), and that is, that our children also needed us–parents, alive and whole, whose eyes could focus on them, and not always be focused on the ministry–in fact, that our children needed us more than the ministry needed us.

I know, this isn’t really rocking your world yet, is it? Duh, no brainer. We’d all say our family is more important than ministry

But then he mentioned a Scriptural example that gave me a new flash of understanding, that set that truth in a clearer light for me. Are you ready for some easy Bible trivia? See if you can answer this question, the question he posed to us when we were busy arguing for why we were needed in Africa:

Who did Noah take on the ark with him?

Noah's Sacrifice by Jacobo Bassano

Noah’s Sacrifice by Jacobo Bassano

The Bible is clear– “Noah, the eighth person,” it says.

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. ~Heb. 11:7

Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. ~1 Pet. 3:20

And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly. ~2 Pet. 2:5

And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. ~Gen. 7:1

And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him, into the ark… ~Gen. 7:7

The new, interesting thought to me was an analysis of Noah’s “ministry” successes. Peter called him a “preacher.” I’ve heard some sermons or children’s presentations that mention him preaching to the ungodly for over 100 years. Dramatic recordings usually have Noah pausing in the middle of building the ark to preach a sermon to unbelievers in evangelistic 21-century style.

I’m not sure if that preaching was the same as what we think of today when we think of preaching. But at the least, we know that his righteous lifestyle was counter-cultural, and that preached. And his building of the ark, motivated by fear grounded on faith, spoke; that also was counter-cultural, and this “preaching” condemned the world.

And what does he have to show for his evangelistic efforts?

“Nothing,” most of us would respond.

And there’s the rub, the immediate rebuke: nothing??! Saving his family is nothing?

But I’m pretty sure that if Noah were reporting to supporting churches after twenty years of service, he’d have lost support. If he were trying to raise more support in his 87th year of service on his oh-so-very-needy field, he wouldn’t get it! If ministry successes were based on numbers, and let’s admit it, we all do assess our ministry successes this way to some extent, we wouldn’t support Noah, the eighth person, today. Wow.

Noah's Ark Mural by David Jermann

Noah’s Ark Mural by David Jermann

But was he a failure, then?

Ezekiel implies he was one of the best, listing him in a group of three along with Daniel and Job. And what of Jeremiah, preaching for fifty years, with only three converts mentioned?

No, Noah the eighth person was righteous, and one of the most obvious marks of his righteousness is that his “house” got on the ark with him. In a day when evil abounded, and every imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart was only evil continually, Noah saved his family. His family got on the ark with him.

What about you, dear missionaries and preachers of righteousness? Who are you gonna take on the ark with you? It can be so hard to balance the needs of ministry with the needs of family. My husband tried to think through the difficulties of obtaining this balance here.

For those all-out, die-hard missionaries who can sometimes run over people in their zeal, let’s get this one point from Noah’s example:

In the eyes of many, his “ministry” was a failure; but he saved his family. And God called him righteous. The eighth person was a hero of the faith.

Noah's Daughter-in-Law in the Dovecote by Mary Jane Q. Cross

Noah’s Daughter-in-Law in the Dovecote by Mary Jane Q. Cross

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And Let One Interpret

I am so excited about something that won’t be in my life anymore. Not because I don’t like it, but because I’ve finished it! Last week I finished translating the last lesson of our Sunday School curriculum into Xitsonga. I started this project over six years ago and finally have finished 212 lessons from A Beka Book’s elementary Bible curriculum. Earlier I had translated 32 lessons with Firm Foundations, a chronological approach from New Tribes Mission.

I usually spent three to four hours per week in translating a lesson plus review questions, then another hour or so picking out a memory verse for the week, making memory verse visuals, and practicing teaching the lesson. I am very excited to have some more time in my week now that this lengthy project is finished! I am also happy when I think about national teachers being able to use these materials in the future when we have hopefully moved on to another church plant.

Once at a college graduation I attended, a man was awarded an honorary doctorate for having written curriculum for eight semesters of a one-day-per-week seminar. I tickled my fancy, awarding myself with an honorary doctorate for finally finishing this accomplishment. :) Not tooting my own horn, just enjoying finishing this “chapter.” Oh, the work missionary women do that will go unheard of, unsung, or unnoticed. (By the way, much of what I write could apply to pastor’s wives as well.) So share with me, are you working on any projects on your field right now? Have you finished any projects that excited you? I’d love to hear about it!

Decorating Valentine's cookies at a Sunday School party

Decorating Valentine’s cookies at a Sunday School party

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An Open Letter to the Missionary (Woman) Quitter

When criminals entered our home last December 2nd and attacked our family, our lives changed completely. The obvious, immediate question after the crisis was, “Do we quit being missionaries?”

It was an excruciating question to work through, partially because it was completely unexpected. We had had no thought of leaving the field. My husband’s screen saver on his phone when we were dating said, “Go tribal!” Hadn’t I known what I was getting into? No, actually! And yes. His heart for the Unreached has defined him, been his core, since I’ve known him. It seemed there was no avenue forward that didn’t involve reconstructing either Seth’s or Amy’s make-up. We reached out for counsel.

As you may have guessed, especially if you already heard of our situation and were thinking “in our shoes,” not many counselors had an easy answer. It would have been wonderful if God had spoken to us in a vision. Most counselors were unwilling and unable to give a certain “yea” or “nay.” Understandably so.

What a blessing that most counselors were amazingly supportive. By “supportive,” I mean that they understood and articulated that leaving our field was an obvious and valid option, and that we weren’t bad Christians to be considering it–that godly Christians have chosen both paths, to leave or to stay.

But a few comments stuck with me memorably–in a negative way–that, in my opinion, made our decision even tougher. They hinted or outright stated that they viewed me as weak or wimpy to even go back to the States for an eight-week visit to think about our future, that I was holding back my husband (because his personality did not struggle with the decision to return to the field even a fraction as much as mine), thus I was unsubmissive and “wearing the pants in the family” (and therefore, my husband had blame for not “leading me” appropriately), that I was not obeying certain Scriptures that encourage risking all for Christ, and that I was not a strong person or missionary or Christian if I couldn’t go back.

Well, comments like these (made by people who have not experienced even a quarter of what I have) were not accepted well by a traumatized woman concerned for her traumatized children! And there, in that sentence, may lie part of the answer. Some people cannot empathize fully with a wounded person until they themselves have experienced the humiliation of trials and suffering. I cringe when I remember my naive judgmentalism as a young missionary. Oh, how I’ve changed now, and eaten my words (rather, thoughts) a hundred times over.

It is true that many leave the field for wrong reasons at the wrong time. And it is true that we do not hear enough encouragement to risk all for Christ. I don’t want to take the teeth out of Scriptures like these:

Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

But: Around the time when I was struggling with the fact that I knew that we would be going back to the field, I heard of a missionary woman who was likewise struggling, almost…despairing. And my heart went out to her. She had “put in her time,” labored for years on the field, followed her husband to a difficult people, had children in inferior hospitals on the field, and after numerous trials, was beginning to crack under the pressure. I cried for her, someone I’d never met. Why should she, dear timid warrior that she is, be criticized if she needs to come home (America) for the sake of her sanity?

Honestly, I struggled to even word that last paragraph, because I know alpha male theologians who would respond that she shouldn’t need that, that if she were responding biblically she could handle this, etc. But I think long-term missionaries understand what I mean, because They’ve Been There.

So while I truly don’t aim to encourage anyone to leave the field, especially for wrong reasons, please understand my desire in this post. I desire simply to offer compassion to that lonely, spent missionary woman who so badly needs to hear compassion, not guilt trips, if she goes home for good or simply for a rest. At other times, I will take the opposing side and encourage perseverance. But for right now I want to simply offer compassion, only compassion, in an open letter to the few missionary women who may be in this situation.

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You dear woman,

You’ve been told so many hurtful things.

It is okay. It is okay to leave the field because you are cracking under the pressure.

Your hair is prematurely graying. You are beaten down by the degrading depravity of your field. Your health is failing. You have forgotten that you used to have an easy laugh and can’t remember what it feels like to converse easily with another Christian without weighing every word and its possible miscommunications. And you struggle to list one positive item per every fifty negative things about your field.

You have fought on the front lines of the war for a long time, and you are coming home a wounded soldier. Yes, soldiers wounded in the war receive an honorable discharge. You deserve a medal. Indeed you are a hero! So few people want your job that you are irreplaceable.

God bless you! You tried. You gave your all. You gave beyond your all. You submitted to your husband and raised your children in challenging circumstances. Now channel what remaining energies you have into enduring yet more change, but hopefully a more restful change because of its familiarity. If your coming home allows you to gain the benefits that Jesus got when He “came apart to rest a while,” and to continue being a helpmeet to your husband and to keep going in the ministry, though it be no longer foreign, then come. Come home, and continue to follow Christ as well as you can in the place where you are.

You will hear no word of condemnation from me. Only compassion.
Only compassion, dear missionary friend.

Love in Christ,

Amy

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Now We’re the Perfect Family!

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I thought after seven weeks of being a seven-member family (the perfect number!), I probably should include our newest little on the family blog. Cameron Lee Meyers was born August 12, 8 lbs. 6 oz., and a kinda short length if I recall right, but it’s stretching a missionary to convert all of those dimension from the metric system to English.

At birth

At birth

He promised to be a butterball at birth, and he has delivered on that promise, becoming a nice 13 lbs. 6 oz. at seven weeks. Great job, Cameron! (He has accomplished this while his siblings have been through three bouts of stomach flu in eight weeks. I’m trying to figure out what’s up with that.)

Meeting their new brother in the hospital

Meeting their new brother in the hospital

Welcome signs they made for Cameron and me! (I love the way they're dressed--shows that Mom wasn't around.)

Welcome signs they made for Cameron and me! (I love the way they’re dressed–shows that Mom wasn’t around.)

Cameron–chosen mainly because it starts with a “C,” but also for Cameron Townsend, a famous Bible translator.

Lee–my mother’s maiden name.

Meyers–my husband’s maiden name.

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Cameron is a joy. He has already blessed us with several smiles, including a dimple! Yay! I waited several children to finally see my husband’s beautiful dimple displayed in an obvious way on one of them. As I said, perfect.

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Cameron will always be a reminder to me of God’s grace and lovingkindness–a needed rest from worries to rejoice in new beginnings. Welcome, Cameron.

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