Month: March 2016

Season 2, Episode 1: Long Distance Relationships on the Mission Field

How do you navigate a relationship that spans across oceans, time zones, and borders? In the season opener of Life On Mars, our good friends John and Kelly walk us through their experience dating while on opposite sides of the globe. Now married, John and Kelly discuss the challenges and joys (but mainly the challenges) of their long distance relationship.

Subscribe to Life on Mars by searching for “Life on Mars podcast” on iTunes or by clicking here. You can also listen to this episode below!

Why I Go: Romans 10

As I have lived overseas, my work on the mission field has become more normal. For better or worse, it has become like my job (and it kind of is)! Others who share my desire to go out and share the good news, especially from groups who have very little access to the gospel, surround me.

But this mission-minded environment hasn’t always been normal for me.

What changed in me? Sure, the missions conferences and missions classes taught me about the world and connected me with a lot of like-minded people. However, my desire to go to the hardest-to-reach places had to ultimately come from the Word of our God and Father.

One of those passages that stood out to me was Romans 10:14-17.

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?[c] And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Paul is in the middle of talking about the complicated relationship between God and His chosen people, Israel. Paul says that Moses preached righteousness through the Law, but now, righteousness based on faith is through the heart in believing and the mouth in confessing.

What is even better is that all can come to the Father to be saved. There is no distinction between Jew and Gentile. Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

That’s great news, but there are so many people who have no idea of their need to be saved!

Another passage in Paul’s letter, Romans 1:20, reminds us that all can see God and His attributes, but that does not take away from our responsibility to share this good news with the whole world. From Romans 10:14-17, you can clearly see that God has ordained us to preach the good news.

Their faith comes from hearing the word of Christ, not from doing. This puts the responsibility solely on us to be the ones spreading His word. God’s Spirit will be the one who changes and molds the heart of people to receive this message, but we must be the ones to give that message to them.

In some cases, God uses dreams, visions and other supernatural phenomena to introduce Himself to the lost. I have heard countless stories of this in the Muslim world. Yet, these people who have these dreams still eventually clearly hear of their need for a Savior through His people preaching His Word.

At times, this can lay a heavy burden on our backs if we let improper thoughts enter our minds: We MUST do this, or no one will be saved. God NEEDS us!

In reality, he does NOT need us. He chooses to use us. It is important to keep the perspective of verse 15. “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” It is a privilege and a joy for us to be a part of God’s great plan to bring the nations to Himself.

To Stay or To Leave

I have been part of the Sowers Project for the past year and a half. When I began, I made a one-year commitment to be a Sower, and as my first year came to a close, I decided to make another one-year commitment. However, this summer I will return home for good.

After my first year, I chose to stay, and after my second year, I chose to leave.

Every person experiences the “cost” of missions differently. For some, it seems like a huge sacrifice to uproot their life in their home country, and move overseas. To others, the sacrifice may seem minimal.

How you experience the “cost” of doing missions in a foreign culture will likely influence your feelings about staying and leaving. However, it doesn’t necessarily make the decision to stay or leave any easier.

Whether living outside of your home culture is something that you thrive on, or whether it’s something that is consistently difficult, the path you take will have highs and lows. The new creation has come, which means God is renewing us to become more like him in holiness and happiness day by day. However, the new creation is also not fully here, which means we will still suffer and experience the pain of a broken world. This is the reality of the world we live in. Below are 3 things to remember as you decide whether to stay or to leave.

To stay & to leave will mean happiness and pain

It is a gift to be able to tell people about Jesus who have not heard before. It is a gift to be able to see former Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and Atheists trust Christ and see churches begin to form. It is a gift to have a team, people who feel like family. It is a gift to experience firsthand the uniqueness of God’s creation as you are immersed in a new culture.

There is much happiness in staying.

It is a gift to do ministry in your own culture and nation, where you can more instinctively understand people and speak into their lives. It is a gift to see churches grow in a neighborhood that you might know so well. It is a gift to be able to be able to attend weddings, funerals, and spend time with family. It is a gift to send others to the mission field, to pray for them, and support them.

There is much happiness in leaving.

Regardless of your decision, there will also be pain. Leaving teammates is hard, but so is continuing to experience relational drift with friends and family back home. You will face persecution; whether from a government, armed group, your neighbors, or a post-Christian society. We will always suffer because we love Christ. None of this pain is wrong, but simply a reminder that this world is not our home. There is pain in life, regardless of our path.

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord

As often as I have had a difficult decision to make, I have returned to Proverbs 16:33. It describes God’s sovereignty, and how often we fail to recognize it.

Casting lots is mentioned a lot in scripture, it’s what the Roman soldiers did for Jesus’ clothes when he was crucified. Essentially, it is a game of chance, the outcome being totally random and uncertain.

Proverbs reminds us that our decision may seem like a rolling of the dice, but its every roll is from the Lord. What is random in our lives is ordained in the Heavens.

You are loved

In the midst of deciding whether we should stay or leave, we often forget that God wants us more than the mission he has given us.

Times of decision making generally expose the longings of our hearts in this broken world. We want to feel like our lives matter and have been worthwhile. We are restless, and long to hear the affirmation that we have been a “good and faithful servant,” yet so easily forget that is already true of us (Matt 25:21,23).

God loves us. He loves you. He has already declared you a good and faithful servant when he called Jesus “my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17).

Regardless of your decision you can know that you are loved. God wants you, God loves you, and “he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).

 

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