Monday, November 30, 2015

God's Love Compels

I'm in the middle of an excellent book called, "Why God Calls Us to Dangerous Places" by Kate McCord. The author lived in Afghanistan as a missionary for almost a decade. In the book, she discusses why God sends people to the hard places of the world while recounting her first-hand experiences overseas. I'm loving this read because it is speaking to my tired missionary heart and reminding me of why the cost of our lifestyle is worth it in the end.

In the chapter I read last night, McCord says this, "When we go to dangerous places, to places where there are few if any Christ followers, we go as Christ's ambassadors, but we don't go alone. We carry the presence of Christ with us, the hope of glory. We love, serve, heal, and help those who are weary and heavy laden. In doing so, we reveal God's love and compassion to a hurting world. Yet we don't just reveal God's love; we reveal His truth as well. We offer His invitation, reconciling others to God." 

When I read this, I thought of the Bishop we partner with in Mundri. Just a couple weeks ago, he held peace meetings with South Sudanese soldiers and members of the rebel group. He brought these groups together to work out their differences and reconcile. The agreement they signed might not hold up (there is evidence of this already), however, Bishop's efforts are beautiful to me regardless of the outcome. He is fighting for peace. He is on the front lines of trying to make the gospel relevant for two combatting groups. All-the-while, he's ushering the Spirit with him wherever he goes. He's showing the people in Mundri that they are worth fighting for and that the battle is not over yet. The enemy has not won. There is still work to be done.

Will with Mary on his August visit to Mundri
This quote also made me think of Mary, Rooney, and Francis Peter. All three of whom we still call and check in with. People who are in a horrible state of suffering right now, but all know they are being prayed for an thought about by people across the world. This might not seem like much, but I know in my darkest times in life (which don't even come close to the suffering they are experiencing in South Sudan right now), it was such a comfort to know I wasn't alone in the battle. When friends would go out of their way to call or e-mail and remind me of truth, I felt glimmers of hope that I don't usually experience when I'm alone. God calls people to dangerous places around the world to remind His people that they are worth it. Mary, Rooney and Francis all know they have an advocate in us. They know they are not alone in the suffering.

Our God is a God of love. When He calls us to do "crazy" (but the world's standards at least) things like move across the world to remote and difficult places, it is because He deeply loves the people He is sending us to. He wants them to know and experience His love and His comfort. He wants them to know they are not forgotten and they are worth fighting for.

This doesn't just apply to being called as a missionary overseas. God calls us to love His people wherever He has placed us. When we serve our neighbor or follow God's prompting to speak truth into a weary friend's life, we are ushering His presence. We are touching hands He can't physically touch and wiping tears in His love. With each act of compassion, we are revealing God's love in a hurting world.

When my heart feels tired and hesitant to go back into our lifestyle of unknowns and uncertainty, I'm reminded of how much God loves the people He is sending us to. He longs to show them love and mercy and I am privileged to get to be an avenue through which He does that. The beautiful thing is as we show mercy, we also receive mercy. As we usher God's love, we get to see evidence over and over again of His great love. In all of it, it is His love which compels us to love others and His love which ministers to our heart as well.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Changing Seasons

Lately I have found myself grateful for the changing of seasons. We are currently in Bloomington, IN and this is one of my favorite places to be during Fall. It is absolutely beautiful! The colors of the leaves are stunning and the crispness in the air is refreshing.

This year Fall has brought me renewed hope. It has been a reminder to me that one season has ended and another is beginning. It has shown me that new beauty and new life happen just when we think we can't manage any longer in our previous state.

I was writing thank you cards recently and I noticed that the cards I wrote right when we got home contained the words, "thank you for praying with us in this difficult year". The card I wrote today said, "thank you for your prayers during our challenging year". Subtle change, but I was amazed by the realization that I'm no longer communicating that we're "in this difficult season". Without realizing it, I've started to talk about the difficulty of the year in past tense. We're moving forward. It's a gradual process, but I'm feeling hopeful again.

As I walk down the street and take in the beauty of the colorful, falling leaves, I'm grateful yet again for God's faithfulness. I'm grateful that He does not keep us in one season forever. I'm thankful for the glimmers of hope He provides and the realization that He IS working all things for His good. I'm glad that we don't stay in challenging seasons forever, but there is always hope of new beauty and new life.