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Confessions of a Missionary in Training

God has a way of choosing the most unlikely persons to do his will. Time and time again we read about people who God has called and who have responded by either complaining, making an excuse or running away. At times I’ve felt like Isaiah when he encountered God  “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” Having no choice other than to say  “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:9). Moses objected saying that he  was not  eloquent in speech and asked for God to send someone else, even though God promised to be with him, gave him the tools he needed and the words to say.(Exodus 3 & 4). In the end God sent Aaron to accompany him.

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Jonah ran away when he was asked to “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” (Jonah 1: 2 -3) We later read of his fate, being swallowed by a fish and then having to turn back and do the very thing God asked him to do in the first place; proving we can never run away from God.

There are many other examples in the Bible where people who are called by God highlighted their inadequacies, thinking how could God choose me. Barak asked for a woman to go with him. We read in Judges 4 where the prophetess Deborah  revealed to Barak  his mission to free the Israelites from the hands of Sisera but then Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go.”  Deborah then said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the honor shall not be yours on the journey that you are about to take, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman.”

There are so many of these characters in the bible.  Although I can truly identify with Jonah in wanting to run away, I wish I had the faith of Abraham who left everything to go  even though he did not know where he was going or where he was going to live.

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I aspire to be like Nehemiah having the audacity to ask for everything he needed. He not only asked for time off but for letters to the governors to provide him with safe-conduct until he arrive at his mission field – Judah, as well as a letter to the keeper of the royal park for the materials (timber) he needed to complete his work. Nehemiah 2: 7 -8 tells us that because the gracious hand of my God was upon him, the king granted his requests.

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Maybe I need to spend more time in fasting and prayer.Being a missionary is not easy for someone who struggle with dependency, asking, and who loves to have things in control. In fact it is easy, a delight and a challenge to ask for others. Basically it’s just a matter of exercising my sales skills and giving back, which I enjoy doing.  When it comes to asking for myself, that’s another kettle of fish. I find it extremely tough and yes we can probably put it down to pride. I was brought up by a grandmother who taught me it’s a blessing to give – not to receive. And when the Bible tells us in Luke 6: 38  “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.”, we almost expect that that good measure will be returned automatically, in fact miraculously. The last thing you expect to do is ask and ask continually.

 

If I am going to be a missionary which requires raising funds then I have to learn to ask. I feel at times that when Jesus said ‘Ask and we shall receive, Knock and the door will be opened onto you”, He did not tell us we would experience rejection in the process – something I struggle with from a child. Neither did he tell us of the many letters and responses you’ll receive saying “No” “take me off your mailing list”, “Unfortunately we will not be able to make a grant to you.’ He did not tell us of the people who will expect you not just to ask but keep asking, literally begging and bringing yourself to the point of humiliation, those who insisted in helping but them changed their mind at the last minute, those who you thought would gladly support your ministry but refuse to do so, not to mention those who still expect you to give even in the midst of your lack. And I may sound as if I am complaining at this point but I am in good company when we consider some of the psalms of King David and Elijah the prophet complaining in 1 Kings 19. Even the most committed of God’s servants may at times experience discouragement, pessimism, and a desire to withdraw from their calling. At least I am not running away.

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And don’t get me wrong, it’s not all rejection even at times it feels like it. I have experienced  moments when an old pensioner who you’ve just met, sought you out the next day and handed you a cheque  or when someone give you an envelope with cash, a fellow bible college (London School of Theology) alumni send you support from Ghana or  you receive an email  from someone to say God has put you on their heart and they have made a donation. It’s usually during times when I feel like giving up that God use these kind souls to remind me that He will provide for all my needs.

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So should we wait for moments like these –  God incidents and protect ourselves from any form of rejection? Should we not take initiative and having fundraising events, post on Facebook, send out reminders to friends and families? After all it is not British to ask! But Jesus implore us to ask (Matt. 7:7). Why? Is it because it’s the very thing He knew we would find difficult to do?  Is it to remind us that it’s not our ministry, but  His? Is it to teach us to trust and rely on Him and His promise to provide us with good gifts as we ask? Then we’ll not be tempted to take all the glory for ourselves.

On my last mission to South Africa, I remember a sister at St George’s Cathedral saying to me ‘Karen you are not here only to give but to receive’ a lesson I needed to learn and still learning. She recognised that I find it hard to receive and would regularly hand me a R200 note after Friday mass. I wish for these God moments to happen frequently but that would not develop me personally, to keep asking and persevering – it would be too easy.

Personally, the learning process in asking is slow. I may come across as an expert but I still get terrible painful knots in my stomach when I have to ask. I know how to give but it’s painful to ask and to receive. Many have told me not to see this as begging but inviting people to share in God’s ministry. I still find it difficult. I get joy in giving and even during times of lack I probably give away the very blessings God intended for me to have. Maybe there is an element of control in this. I  also need to learn not to get angry nor take rejection personally.

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And yes I like to be independent and at times I still act as if I am in control but God has this way of  reminding me, at times it feels like embarrassing me when I become too independent and egotistical, to show me that He is in control and not me; that He will provide for my needs and even goes as far as creating situations where I have to ask and depend on others. I must confess that it’s during times like these I wish I was still the independent, probably arrogant, and impatient person working in the city where I felt I had the security of a job,  not having to depend on anyone because I could supply all my wants and my needs. But you and I know that’s so far from the truth. At times, I feel like and I have in the past,  relied on my personal resources to fund ministry work just to avoid asking but that only hinders the process of becoming the humble person God is shaping me to be, plus God has not called me yet  to sell my limited treasures to minister to the poor. It’s tough being a missionary!

I now know God has called me to be a missionary to conform me to his image and bring glory to His name , to learn humility and to depend on Him.  I do not have to have everything under control. Amidst the fear of rejection , He will complete His work through me and will never leave nor forsake me.

Missionaries are just ordinary people trying, at times struggling to respond to and obey God’s call, like Moses, Jonah and many others. They are learning to trust that as they respondto the command to ‘Go’ in Matt 28: 18-20 that God will be with us always and supply all our needs . A missionary is someone in whom the Holy Spirit has brought about this realization: “You are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19).

They do not have loads of money stack up in their bank accounts, but learning to wait and depend on God’s provision. In most cases if not all, these provisions comes through you when God has laid it on your heart to give. And another thing, going on mission is not a vacation nor is it an adventure.

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Even though some aspect of it may seem to be, it’s more about personal and spiritual development :

  • Learning to depend on God
  • Extending a hand of grace
  • Loving the people
  • Being a light to the nations He has called you

And it comes with many challenges as well as joys.

 

 

I would like to ask you to be sensitive when I ask for your support but then that would not encourage my long term spiritual  growth.So please, can I please ask you to pray and seek God in supporting a missionary? See this as a chance to invest in God’s kingdom as we try to be obedient in being sent out to proclaim the gospel, amidst all our inadequacies, our struggle to comprehend that God can use us, amidst all our failings, our questioning on whether we deserve to be funded and as God seek to bring out the best and manifest His glory through us.

Like Nehemiah I pray that the gracious hand of God is upon me and that He will grant favour through you to all my request for prayers and support for my mission to South Africa.

Please would you sponsor me?

For more information please visit http://missiontosa.yolasite.com

May God bless you and your generosity.

In Christ.

Karen

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