"This life therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal, but it is the right road. At present, everything does not gleam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed." --Martin Luther

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


We learned SOME of the right questions to ask. But in saying that, even if we had asked the “right” questions, we knew that we knew that we knew we were supposed to be in Zambia at this project. It is where God called us, but not for the reasons we thought.
We learned (from a professional well driller/water engineer), that Coke DOES NOT have anything in it to find water.
We learned that agencies and churches need to have the back of the missionary in the field. They need to get the WHOLE story before decisions are made. The missionary needs to know that they are not alone. All too often the missionary is hung out to dry. From the stories we have heard, it is often unjustly so, not always, but often. There seems to be a trend of nationals calling the agencies or churches of missionaries to complain and try to get the missionary in trouble or kicked out of the country. Most of the time it is because of jealousy on the national’s part; they want something of the missionaries’ (thank you materialism). It might be a business or ministry that the missionary has or it just might be “stuff” such as a vehicle or a house or food. It is sad but true. The nationals are not immune to the temptations of the flesh. I have often seen that Westerners give an almost saintly attribute to the national when the truth is they are human just like us.
There is a trend taking place in the mission world today of handing off of all mission work to the nationals. (There is a problem right there-what does “missions” mean anymore?) Now that is not all bad but it can also be very dangerous depending on the culture and what is considered acceptable in that culture (i.e. stealing, lying, etc.) I was very impressed with the IMB and how they do missions. They have a very specific mission. They realize that they cannot and should not be all things to all people. Their focus is on church planting, discipleship, and leadership training. And from what I saw, they do a good job of it. They understand the culture and work within it. They do not pastor a specific church necessarily; they oversee a number of churches and the nationals that pastor them. Or they specifically work in the area of discipleship and leadership training. They are there to assist the national leader. They may also have a specific mission focus like river ministry or something else. I really liked the fact that they go to where the people are. They live remote and they do ministry in the local languages. Is it hard work? You bet. Is it effective? Absolutely. They are fulfilling their vision and focus.
There are other ministries that focus on well drilling. They do their ministry through the local church to help assist them to reach out to their local community to bring much needed clean water and to share the Living Water of Christ.
I believe that there is no one way to do missions, there are many and it all depends on the culture that you are working, and the vision of your ministry. That will determine what the most effective way to do missions is (for you/where you are). Too often many Westerners will come in with a Western mindset on how things will work or not, how they can be set up, what it should look like, how it will run etc.
I often think back on our time in Zambia and our ministry. Our ministry was often just helping the local villagers with their “problems” whatever they might be. At times it was very annoying but it was also very fulfilling. It was being able to show the love of Christ in tangible ways; not necessarily giving but helping. We did quite a bit for the project, but when I think back, I think about the local villagers and those relationships. I liked being able to “feel” like I was doing “ministry” just being there and living life. I miss that feeling; I miss feeling like what I am doing is making a difference to someone.
This I wrote some time ago and it still holds true today:
Our FATHER did not call us to Zambia to fail. HE promises to give us everything we NEED. I rest in that fact. HE keeps HIS promises, HE is faithful, and HIS WORD is TRUTH! I’ve got the creator of heaven and earth on my side, how awesome is that! I gladly lay my life as well as my wife and children on the alter as a living sacrifice to my GOD and my KING, I am the priest of my family, it is what GOD requires of me and I take that responsibility very seriously.
I do not believe that we failed. I believe we fulfilled God's purpose for us; it was just a different one than we thought we were called to.
Kelly and I have often wondered: did we go through everything we went through and learned all that we have in the last couple of years to wind up going someplace else (some other ministry in some other country) or could it be that we are going to just come back to Minnesota and farm (or do something else)? It is a BIG question. We want to be able to use what we have learned, but where? Doing what? I have to admit, I am kind of over the fact that I get to have much say in what we will do next (whether or I really want to do it or not). If God calls us somewhere, the answer is already yes. And honestly, I am a little gun shy about going back into missions. In time that may change but I am looking at the here and now and it makes me nervous. There is a lot I would just as soon forget about but maybe I shouldn’t. There was a purpose for it. And I cannot get away from the fact that I left part of my heart in Africa. But at the same time I love farming. I enjoyed helping with harvest this year. And if we went through everything to just end up back here again, I guess I will have to be okay with that, whether I “feel” like it or not. One of my gifts is farming. Not to boast but just to state one of my gifts. At the same time I also learned that my FATHER has gifted me in many other ways. One of the more unpopular ones is that I will say what needs to be said when it is not popular/ or not what people want to hear; but it is what they need to hear. It is not the best for making a lot of close friends-but the ones I have are true friends. I see that what I was taught by my parents has equipped me to do many things.
I guess I just want God to use me to the fullest wherever/ whatever that is.

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