This is my pre-mission trip post. As the time to leave looms near I find myself actually less nervous and more excited. I’ve never been to Africa before so I think that’s whats giving me the most anticipation. I’ve heard about Africa for so long, from so many different organizations and missions agencies, and now I’m finally going myself. I never thought I would ever go to Rwanda, but the Lord saw fit to change a Thailand trip to a Rwanda trip, and I can’t wait to see all His purposes in that. As I have been thinking about and praying over this trip, I have been thinking a lot about what it means to count the cost. The main reaction I get when I tell people I’m going to Rwanda is one of shock. “They’re letting you go there?! Isn’t it still dangerous?” I never know how to answer to that. Even if Rwanda was still as dangerous as it was 20 years ago, should we deny those people the gospel? Is our earthly body worth more than the glory of the Lord? The reality is that He is the only one sustaining our lives. Whether we live in southeast America or central Rwanda, He is the one who gives life and takes it away. This doesn’t mean we needlessly throw our lives away, or are careless in the way we take care of our bodies, but it means that when we walk in the path of obedience, and undergo suffering because of it, He is worthy.
I also don’t want to pass over the weight of this reality. Living in certain places for the sake of the gospel is difficult. The reality is that in the midst of suffering and persecution we have to fight for joy. It will not come easy. This is a hard truth that I have had to come to grips with this year as I have talked to other missionary families. Those who romanticize missions will not last. We must count the cost. A “call” to overseas mission work (we are all commanded to preach the gospel, here we are just speaking of a difference in location), should be a sober solemn thing, and I’m afraid in our churches today it has become too flippant. Everyday as I learn more of what it means to live in another culture, to learn another language, to contextualize the gospel, to give up my friends and family, to start a business in another country, and to be an overseas missionary in general I am overwhelmed. And in the midst of all that, add persecution and rejection. Perhaps this is why we tend to see missionaries as “super-spiritual” people. There is no special quality in missionaries that make them more able to do mission work. They are just people who have been forced into a place of realizing their complete and utter dependence on the Lord. They have such a great task before them, and so little ability in themselves to accomplish it, that it forces them to see the true state of their dependence, which we are often blinded to in our American culture. At times, our affluence has robbed us of the opportunity to grow our faith.
This faith growing can be a painful process though. And the Lord has really challenged me to check my heart, to search every corner of my life, and find what I am still holding for myself. If we don’t take this preparation, this counting the cost seriously, if we don’t continually in our hearts consider the Lord worthy, then we will shrink back in times of trouble. But, when we rely on Him, when we cry out to Him for strength and step out in faith even in the midst of deep suffering, then we make much of Him. It is in that place that we are able to tell the world; “He is better! He is more glorious! He is of more value than anything this world can offer!” Missionaries are ordinary men, and anything they do worthy of honor is because of the Lord working through them for His glory and our good.
Anyway, those are my thoughts on missions that have arisen from my preparation for this trip. I would really like to thank all my family and friends who made this trip possible through their donations/scarf buying (even in the spring!). And now I will give you many a picture of some of those beautiful faces. To everyone who has given, I am so incredibly grateful.
and last but not least…