Taking that Leap of Faith!
Mission involves a calling, taking that leap of faith, a tug on your heart for a particular cause either abroad or at home. It usually involves selling or giving up some if not all of your possession, raising the necessary funds and going to a new country. And so you book your ticket and off you go excited that you are doing God’s will.
You cannot imagine anything else would go wrong but rest assured God provides in every situation. The great commission commands us to Go and Obey Everything with the promise “..And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20
In a new country you are bound to experience cultural barriers, a different worldview, language differences, financial constraints, loneliness, distractions, thoughts about your future, opposition, loss of enthusiasm, at times feeling of giving up.
The whole idea of mission is in the testing of your faith, not only in responding to the call but in preserving while you are on course.
The biggest challenges for me are finances and cultural differences but I have seen how God has come through time and time again, usually at the last moment – at time providing less than I anticipated but I still trust that whatever situation I find myself in he is more than able to provide and whatever he has provided is enough for my need.
I have experience his faithfulness when friends like my old PWC work colleague Lydia read my blog in the UK and stopped over with her husband to visit me while on holiday in South Africa. Through the unexpected gifts, encouraging WhatsApp messages, unexpected and timely telephone and Skype calls from friends and family all over the globe and in this recent and appropriate text message that I received from one of my Uncle’s in Jamaica. It read as follows;
Almighty God take my hand and lead me
through this day step by step
Remind me that I cannot do everything I wish,
or do any of it perfectly
Only you are perfect, and only with your help
can I do my best
Help me to remember to ask for that help. Amen
A Morning Prayer – From Uncle Ezekiel
While on Mission it is difficult at times meeting financial obligations here and at home , having to ask for help coupled with the constant wondering as to whether I am doing enough to warrant my asking; should I be tithing more or is does my voluntary contribution compensate for this.
Luke 6: 38 states
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
In my constant fussing about limited funding I have to remind myself that there are some in some townships and other parts of the world who are living on less than I am and still have to provide for their family. World Hunger Day was celebrated on Wednesday 28th May 2014. Here’s what I’ve discovered:
842 million, one eighth of the world’s population live in extreme hunger and poverty and exist on less than 80 pence a day. 10 percent are suffering from famine or from the high profile emergency crises. The 90 percent majority of those suffering with hunger and poverty are living in other parts of the world, not affected by famine, earthquake or flood, but because of the chronic persistent hunger that exists in the developing world, in particular, Africa, South Asia and Latin America.
With such statistics, I am left wondering whether I am using my resources effectively or is my spending pattern still constrained by my previous lifestyle and westernised up bringing.
Luke 12 , the message version states;
“Don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or if the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your inner life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the ravens, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, carefree in the care of God. And you count far more.
This is difficult to obey at times especially when you are alone in a foreign country without family to turn to when you have the last few pounds in your account. Apart from that I also find myself worrying about love, life and my future. Should I go back to the corporate world? Am I living in an unrealistic world which does not meet my financial obligations?
In my searching these passages jump out at me. Responding to his disciples about the cost of following him Jesus said;
“No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
In my fuss about the future Psalm 37: 4 reminds me to take delight in the LORD, and he will give me the desires of your heart.
Luke 12: 22 – 33 reminds us that fussing does not achieve anything. The birds are not tied down by a job description; they are carefree in God’s care. The wild flowers are not fussed about their colour and design surpasses Solomon in his splendour.
The past few weeks have been so stressful that I have fussed myself into high blood pressure which was a wake-up call for me. I was talking to a guy in the Vodacom shop who told me to relax as things takes longer in Cape Town. He also challenges me to visit other places like KwaZulu Natal and I’ll have a different perspective about Cape Town. Thankfully God knows me and he wouldn’t give me more than I can handle.
And so these verses at the beginning of Luke 12: 29-32 are so appropriate,
“What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works.
Cultural and Worldview Frames
At times I wonder if a past tutor from the London School of Theology was right when she said that my ministry is not in the church but in the workplace. I am beginning to agree.
What do you do when your greatest desire is to serve Christ but your greatest disappointment is in the church?
I am still puzzled by the people I’ve come across who treat you with suspicion because you are silly enough to leave your country to come to a new country to volunteer, highlighting that they are doing you a great favour giving you such an opportunity. I was even reminded that this is South Africa not England and that their concept of volunteering differs from mine.
Not to forget the people who take no interest in you and your story but have their own selfish agenda or straight jacket prepared for you that differs from your purpose or what you feel are called to do; things that you have already tried and tested and you know wouldn’t wash. I put this down to my youthful look and wrongly assumed inexperience. At times I have to wonder if this was worth the effort but I have to learn to develop tolerance and rise above the situation. If not then my journey will be filled of unfinished projects and God has a way of bringing you face to face with a particular issues until you learn to breakthrough.
My aim is to follow the rest of the advice in verses 29-32 of Luke 12 (Message version)
Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.
Yes, there are lonely times and distractions and even if I waver at times I have the Word to get me back on track, the peace and quietness of my flat while trusting that God will provide a way out of every difficult situation. I am thankful for the opportunity at the YW-Cape Town and the support of the staff there. I’ve come to realise that among all these issues there is personal formation – God transforming me into the person he has created me to be. And I must confess I am beginning to realise that I am no saint – well not yet. I’m reflecting back on the cards I made for fundraising in the UK and have to agree that I am definitely a ‘Missionary in Training’. I pray to God that somehow I am reaching al least some hearts here.
I’m also learning that praying for others is good for the soul, it takes your mind off your issues, so please let me know if you have any prayer request and I will include you on my prayer list.
Here is a wonderful prayer of St Teresa of Avila which is so simple yet meaningful. It strengthens you in times of weakness, removes all fear and calm your innermost torrents.
Let nothing disturb you;
Let nothing frighten you,
All things pass away.
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who has God,
finds he lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.
Please continue to pray for my time in South Africa and support me if you are able. You can either email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or donate via my webpage http://missiontosa.yolasite.com
Thanks and may God continue to bless you.
Karen (Missionary in Training)
And one last bit. South Africa is great, and yet….:-)