Let’s be honest, we missionaries don’t like to be honest about our insecurities, hurts, struggles and failures. Even though we experience God’s grace in the most amazing ways, and even though we are learning to live in absolute dependence on Him who loves us greatly, we are still learning and growing in the process. And this doesn’t come without allot of scars and wounds. I know you know, that dying in self, bearing your cross, being the least, sacrificing self-daily is not easy, and I am sure you guys are experiencing that as well!
No wonder Paul compares us all to soldiers, in 2 Timothy and Ephesians. Its true, life is full on war, and we even experience friendly fireJ And of course we missionaries are not exempt from his.
This would be one of the reasons we missionaries come on “furlough”. Mirian Webster defines furlough as:
“1: a leave of absence granted to a governmental or institutional employee (such as a soldier or civil servant). The Army began furloughs in September as so-called ‘sanity checks’ for soldiers whose tour has stretched to nearly a year “
So basically this is bit of a sanity check!
And it so happened that when we arrived at the airport in Joburg, South Africa, we requested that no one meet us there. We felt like wounded soldiers “covered with bandages and pumped full of morphine”. You would think that after 6 years as full time youth worker, then 4 years as full time missionary support workers in SA and now 12 years in PNG as church planter that we have the hang of it. Nope, the Christian life and serving on the mission field is war. And the older I am getting and the longer I serve our amazing King, the more fierce the battle gets.
Surprisingly, even though we experience fears attacks from the enemy, and also experience friendly fire from those we love, I have found that the toughest battle is inward and the most damaging wounds are often self-inflicted and this does not stop when you come home.
And so it happened that as I was standing at the airport I was wondering if I did enough back in PNG. When I left a few months ago, it could not be at the worse time! Lots of new wonderful things happening in the Mengen church, and I feel like a dad not being around when his son plays his first rugby game! Not to mention all the hard things happening in the church, and the field, and on our centre. And I feel like a dad not being there when his son needs him! Yes, thats the battle just there, worrying unnecessary about a work only God has done and will complete!
As I was standing at the airport I was wondering how am I going to present our work to you guys, because it’s not so glamorous anymore. You know, in the beginning we shared these amazing stories about Gods amazing grace amongst the Mengen, and believe me it was amazing and still is, but now we have a slow growing church, and the stories seem not as “amazing”. We don’t get as many likes, thumb ups, shares or views. Churches don’t print our news in their newsletter any more, and our news is not shared on our mission organisations website anymore. No one is making any amazing videos about faithful believers plodding through the battle lines. In the missions world, we feel pressure to share the stories that will inspire people the most, especially when other people pay our salary. Let’s show pictures of baptism, new believers, large gatherings or many people singing touching song, because we want numbers and statistics and performance reports to look good and we want our supporters to know that their support is a great investment. That’s the battle right there, worrying unnecessarily about how the great Provider will provide!
As I am standing at the airport I thinking off the hundreds of speaking opportunities waiting for us, the hundreds maybe
thousands of people we will mingle with over his next year, the correct social ques and etiquette, dealing with many different churches and their doctrines not to mention driving a car on a real road. You see living long period of time in the jungle, with a very foreign culture, with allot of space, only seeing a view scattered people around daily and having a total different view of time, really rubs off on us after 12 years. Reverse culture shock is a reality and so it’s no wonder i find it difficult to go to larger gatherings, or to go to a shop and buy stuff. That’s the battle right there, forgetting my identity in Christ and that I do not have to be anything different than what He has made me to be.
Standing at the airport and knowing I will not see my dad again, and it might be the last time I see my mom, and then dealing with inward struggles about not being a good son, and not being there for my mom. Also thinking off my oldest autistic daughter who’s 18 years old but actually 8. And having to deal with inward struggles about having to drop her off at a special home for these people, and im feeling like I am a terrible parent. Allot of struggles with self-blame on not loving her enough, and even being relieved in a way that she can move on. Wow that’s some honesty right there, but thats the battle right, allowing the great accuser to judge and condemn us!
So excuse us if we look a bit strange, shy, awkward, anxious or uncultured and pray for us as we work through this time here in SA and as we get our wounds checked out and as we learn more what it means to trust our wonderful Father who loves us limitlessly and unconditionally, and that we do not have to hurt ourselves with worry!
Allot of Love!
Ps. Up to now, we had a fantastic time at home. Our family has been wonderful, and our supporters as well! We feel we are getting the opportunity to Rest, Refocus, Reconnect and ultimately be Restored so that we can go back and continue with what God has for us.