I have been hesitant to write this post, because it seems like every time I write something about our plans, or why we are doing what we’re doing, everything immediately changes and then I am writing a completely different post explaining those changes. But, the truths I am discussing here don’t change even if our plans do, so I decided not to be animistic in my thinking that saying these words will bring about some sort of doom and gloom and forge ahead.
Many people have asked us why we are still pursuing our life and ministry in PNG. Other people have suggested that our trials with the tribal fighting, and my health and all the times we have had to leave our village unexpectedly are pointing to the fact that God no longer wants us in there. I would be lying if I said those thoughts never crossed my mind, but so far I don’t believe them to be true.
I know God legitimately takes people out of certain ministries and works everyday for reasons that seem much less serious than ours, and I am not naive enough to believe that He would never do that with us.
When I read His word lately what jumps out at me most is the people He has called to any certain task must FIGHT in order to achieve that calling. Sure, God does the miraculous on their behalf. He does things that man cannot, but He doesn’t leave them on the sidelines eating popcorn and enjoying the show. They are in the middle of everything- usually with a sword in their hands.
Joshua and the Israelites saw God bring down the Wall of Jericho, but then they had to enter into a fight to take the city. Each city in the Promised Land after that God delivered to the Israelites still included a fight. God gave it to them, allowed them to win those battles, but they still had to engage in the battle in the first place.
When God delivered the Jews from Haman’s evil scheme through Queen Esther, the Jews still had to spend the entire day fighting for their lives. God saved them from utter annihilation, but they still had to pick up their swords and defend themselves all day from the enemies who wanted to destroy them.
And then I came to the story of King David. As a young boy God anointed him as the next King of Israel. And then He lifted him out of the fields of sheep and plopped him directly on the throne where he lived Happily Ever After. No, that’s not right… Biblical scholars believe that there was approximately fifteen years between the time David was anointed by the prophet Samuel and the time he was crowned king. FIFTEEN years. And those years were not filled with him just ushering around a bunch of sheep at his dad’s house. They were filled with running, hiding, and fighting for his life. Plenty of reasons to just say, “Maybe that old guy was just crazy, and I’m not really called to be King. Maybe it wasn’t really what God wanted. It would be easier than this if it was His Will. I’ll just go back to the sheep. The sheep aren’t trying to stab me with spears.”
And when we get to the New Testament we see the “missionary” Paul struggling and fighting many obstacles and persecutions in order to spread the Good News. He even says in Acts 20 that the Holy Spirit warns him that there will be prison and hardships in every city he sets out for. EVERY CITY. He goes to these places knowing that there will be a fight. In 1 Thessalonians he mentions Satan blocking his way back to the church there, and how he kept pressing on and trying to find a way back to them, eventually sending Timothy in his place. The only time he gives up on an idea of place that he should go to preach is when the Holy Spirit prevents him from doing so. This is the only time he doesn’t fight. (Acts 16) And then notice it doesn’t say that it was some difficulty that prevented it. The Holy Spirit has already warned him about difficulty. It wasn’t hardship, or beatings, or persecutions, or sickness or a pancreas that prevented him from going. Only the Holy Spirit.
Right now, we do not believe that the Holy Spirit is blocking us from going back to PNG. That may change in a month, a week, or even an hour. But right now, in this moment, and all the moments before, we have been confident that the Lord hasn’t changed our direction.
So we keep fighting. Even though our hearts are tired and just need like 5 minutes. Even though it would be so much easier to just let it all go, and live in America where I can go to the doctor every time I stub my toe and where there are specific doctors designated for every part of the body. Yes, that would be easier. And honestly, that would be better for me physically. But it was also better for Paul physically to NOT be beaten every time he stepped across the border into a new city.
But as Paul said in the very next verse following the warning of the Holy Spirit,
“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”Acts 20:24
And our aim is the same as Paul’s. To finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given us- the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace- and specifically to the Hewa people. But the truth is that even if the calling specifically to the Hewa people changes tomorrow, the task of testifying to the good news of His grace will never change. That is a task that we will not complete until we enter into His Presence.