I wrote this last week, but felt the need to pray for a little while before I published it :). Robert and I decided that we should, so here it is!
These past few weeks have been ones of deep thought, prayer, and seeking counsel. It started with the thought that we might need to make a huge change in where we are in life, and it ended in the decision that we needed to make a huge change in our hearts.
A few weeks ago at church, a missionary from Serbia came and spoke about what they are doing there. Robert was actually off that day, so he got to hear as well. He spoke of the different ministries that they have going on there, the state of the country, history, the Orthodox Christian religion, etc. Then, they began talking about a camp that they started there. It is a camp that serves children from a near-by refugee camp. These kids have grown up in the Orthodox Christian church and have never even heard the gospel. Their church was very traditional and the services were actually not even in their own language. It is a small, family-style camp, and these kids got to hear about Jesus for the first time ever. Many have never even understood why they celebrated Christmas. After that service I told our pastor that Robert wanted to move to Serbia now (I was really just trying to blame him for feelings that I was having!). Through the next few weeks we sought counsel from a few people (just a few… we didn’t want this to be something that we told everyone, then decide that it wasn’t going to happen!), prayed, talked, etc. We talked about the difficulties of missions (especially after talking to my best friend who is a missionary), the fact that it doesn’t matter how hard it is if that’s where God has called us, the timing of becoming a missionary (takes 2-3 years normally), training, language, culture, leaving our family, etc. We talked about if God wasn’t calling us to Serbia, why this stirring in our hearts?? It was a lloonngg few weeks and it was tough to think about anything else. I read a lot in God’s word, read in several books (including Crazy Love!), and just journaled my feelings through this.
Through all of this, we came to the conclusion that IF God IS calling us to foreign missions, it’s not time right now. We talked about the fact that we can’t assume that we will go to another country and share Jesus if we don’t do it here. We talked about how we can’t expect to live a more simple life in another country if we don’t do it here (well, we do live simply, but we feel like we can do this even more…). We can’t expect to put others before ourselves if we don’t do it here. We can’t expect to “do missions” if we don’t do it here. Yes, we live at a Christian camp in which many people come to know Jesus, but ultimately we focus on our own comforts, our own frustrations, our own desires, and our own lives. We focus on what we want and “need,” and not what others need.
It was a hard reality to face. It’s not that we think our salvation comes through these things (salvation is through Jesus’ death and resurrection alone!), but if we truly love Jesus the way we say we do, it should be more evident in our lives.
I’m not saying that we won’t ever think about our own comforts, desires, frustrations, etc, but our goal is to learn to put others before ourselves. How can we do this? We’re still trying to figure this out. We are praying for opportunities to love others before ourselves. We do feel that it should start where we are… with our family, our friends, the people around us. Stop griping and complaining. Stop thinking about all that we want and desire, and learn to just love others where they are. Stop thinking about how we are “wronged” in this life (because nothing in life is fair… thanks to sin) and think about all that God has blessed us with. We also need to love others here at camp, serve others here at camp, be an ear for others here at camp, put others first here at camp, and stop focusing on how hard this life is. Then, it should radiate out into the community. How can we serve others who need Jesus in our community? We are looking into ways to do this over the holidays because Robert and I both have lots of time off. We want our family to view Christmas as a time of giving and loving others, not receiving. Of course, Robert and I have talked about, how can we serve others in our community even when Robert is working a lot of hours (some seasons are busier than others)? We always use his hours as an excuse to not serve people outside of here, but we can’t use that as an excuse because no matter where we are, there is always something that could stand in the way.
I’m also not saying that we need to “busy” ourselves with “serving,” only to forget why we’re doing it. That would be legalistic. That is the opposite of what Jesus has called us to. We want to take it one day at a time and just learn to love others. It’s a process that happens the more we get to know Jesus and His heart. How do we get to know Jesus and His heart? By spending time with Him. By praying. By reading and studying His word. Daily. The more we read His word, the more we know His heart and our heart becomes like His. I am far from perfect and there are always going to be things that I struggle with. I am always going to want to put myself first because of the sin that so entangles me. But, again, the more I get to know Jesus, the less that will be a struggle.