This is the third entry in my series about how God has been at work in the Nahuatl church plant over the last ten years.
Challenges and Set-backs
Challenges and set-backs could be a theme of our team’s decade in Las Moras instead of just one entry in an attempt to put things on a timeline. But another undeniable theme is God’s faithfulness in each and every difficulty.
Those early days in the village were challenging. Besides the stressors I mentioned in my last entry, we all walked through some difficult team issues and some pretty serious illnesses.
During our first 10 months in the village we were plagued with stomach bugs, swine flu, allergies, an excessive amount of flea bites, back problems, and strange aches and pains. Especially hard hit was my coworker Dan. In the spring, his health took a dramatic turn for the worse when he had an allergic reaction to a penicillin shot and had to be airlifted to the city for medical help.
In both the time leading up to this event and in many of the months that followed, our team had also been struggling with disagreements and disunity. Growing up on the mission field, I had often heard of teams falling apart over interpersonal problems, but had always thought that was an issue “other people” struggled with. Now that it was happening to me, I learned just how easy it is to get into this disfunction and how hard it is to get out of.
Only a couple of years after its formation, the Nahuatl team was in bad shape and two families left and never returned. This break hurt me deeply and taught me a great deal. I must own up to my failings in all that happened. Although I know I am forgiven, there is still pain as I think about these things, even now as I write this.
I know this is not a popular theme, and I am trying to tread lightly. However, it seems a harsh reality of missions that we missionaries are often the problem. God has chosen lowly and foolish things to work out his great commission, but when we do not conform to his image we become obstacles instead of instruments.
It would have been easier to skip over this part of the story and move on to the next phase. As a matter of fact, I considered it several times as I tried to find the words to express this painful time. But I feel as though when we skip over the ugly and difficult aspects of ministry, we do a disservice to those going through similarly challenging times and those who long to pray earnestly for us.
We have a high calling, and He who called us is faithful, but we are often faithless, weak, selfish, and at times just plain disobedient. When we do not walk in the Spirit, we can even be at cross purposes with God’s plan to win people to himself. That thought and my past failures now serve me well as a challenge–to be an instrument worthy of the Hand that holds me and to live a life worthy of my calling.
Thank you for praying for me and for missionaries around the world as they face the difficult task of building team unity with the end goal of glorifying God among the nations.