Monday, May 14, 2012

Missionaries as the Scum of the Earth

I had some interesting thoughts reading Scripture this morning regarding 1 Cor 4:9-13. Paul is reflecting on how he felt in relationship to the Corinthian church ("apostles" here likely refers more generally to "sent ones" or missionaries than to the original 12 disciples).

9 For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. 11 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.

First, I was incredibly thankful that I couldn't identify with his feelings; I have never felt particularly hungry, buffeted, homeless, reviled, persecuted, slandered, or the scum of the earth and refuse of all things (the language is a bit more colorful in the Greek). This could be because we have only recently began the journey of a full-time missionary lifestyle completely dependent upon God through his people (perhaps the worst is yet to come); but we have always felt loved and supported by the churches and Christians we have been blessed to know. 

Second, I wondered about our own willingness to suffer, and by extension, the willingness of the American church in general to embrace suffering and sacrifice as the way of discipleship. We as Americans recoil from any thought of genuine suffering and feel persecuted when we can't find a good parking spot. It seems that the work will not get done without a greater willingness to live and become sacrificial Christians. God's way of victory is not through comfort and self-satisfaction.   

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Carey Baptist Commissioning Service

I have been to many different missionary commissioning services, but never one quite like our commissioning service at Carey Baptist Church on April 15th. I meant to blog about this earlier but life has been a complete blur over the past few weeks with the move, dissertation defense and submission, and trying to settle in at our new temporary home.
The service wasn't unique simply because we were the ones being commissioned; although I am sure that contributed toward it being more memorable! After speaking for a few minutes, Pastor James invited any person in the congregation who wished to come forward to pray for us. Many of our dear friends came up, held our hands or placed their hands on our shoulders, and encouraged us with genuine, heartfelt prayer. This process took quite a while and I felt briefly sorry for any in the congregation who just wanted the service to end so they could go eat, but nobody seemed rushed or annoyed.
It is hard to put into words, but we felt completely overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support. We keenly sensed the family love and support, not biological, but spiritual--united as one family in Christ in the cause of the Gospel. We treasure the relationships with our Carey family; along with the sure knowledge that there are people praying for us and loving us from a distance.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Life is like a book?

Life is like a book...or so I am told lately!  Closing of a chapter, turning of a page, a new line in the story.  These are just a few of the book to life comparisons I have heard recently.  I suppose they are all quiet true but if you want to be correct in the whole "what came first" thing books are like life!  Life came first, then some clever person decided to write it down...but I digress.  Why all this chapter, line, page stuff?  Well, we just ended/started quite a life changing "chapter".  We recently sold a lot of our belongings, ended our ministry time at Carey Baptist Church, said good bye to dear friends who had become very much a part of our family and moved from Henderson.  All of this in preparation to begin full time support raising to go as missionaries to the Netherlands!

Where to begin?  I suppose the reality of this chapter change of life first hit when out of my house rolled the piano I worked so hard to save for   As far as possessions go I loved that piano.  I spent lots of quality time hammering away (or at least trying to) on its slightly faded and crayon marked keys.  We sold most of our big furniture items and lots of "stuff".  Oh, the things we acquire in life that are so not necessary!  Yet, it was rather sad to see some things get piled into the back of the cars of those seeking great finds at our yard sale.

Benjamin with Mommy's piano
The next reality check was saying good bye to so many precious friends. Sunday, April 15th, was our Commissioning service at Carey.  Alex preached a sermon that would make Dr. Jack Layman quite proud to know he was paying attention in Progress of Redemption class.  At the end our pastor, Dr. Al James, prayed for our family and countless other Church members and youth came up and prayed over us.  It was a beautiful, tearful time.  We are so thankful to have had the opportunity to love and be loved by our Church Family in Henderson, NC.  God is so good to put us in the places He chooses! 

Easter Sunday

And so a new chapter starts...not sure of its title just yet.  We don't know what new characters God will bring into these pages but we are thankful and trusting Him to write as He sees fit!