We’re out on survey research, making our way across West Africa. The goal: gather as much information on what God is doing in each country to see where the churchplanting needs are. We will make necessary village visits along the way to conform information and speak personally with missionaries already working in the area. As I visit with folks and see this small villages, I find myself questioning my calling. Don’t get me wrong, at times I feel enough confidence in what God has called me to do that I could move a mountain. But other times, I look at these folks around me, so blind and in bondage to Islam and their cultural beliefs that I have my doubts. I look at the history of missions in West Africa and the last of “results” and the hard hearts of so many ethnic groups that I easily become discouraged.
I’ve told the Lord before, “I don’t want to put down roots, raise my family, and spend years translating Your Word, to have the people group that we’ve grown to call family reject Your Message. I don’t think I could handle that.” So as we’re visiting villages, we’re praying for God to show us, begging for God to lead us to a group that is READY to hear His voice. Ready to accept His Message. Ready to be persecuted to become children of the King.
But I have to ask myself…what if we don’t see a “people movement”? What if the entire village doesn’t accept the Gospel? What if only one clan does, one family, one PERSON? What’s more important: leading a large group of people to Christ or obeying my Lord? I guess you could look at it as the “result” of obedience to His calling on my life OR the personal journey of walking out that obedience in my life. Hmmm….that’s a hard one. Both are satifsying. Our sin nature loves results…maybe because there is some personal effort (works) involved. But simple obedience…laying down my will for His…requires no accolades, no years of sweaty brows, no keeping tabs. It is an inward decision that allows us to simply follow where He leads, leaving the results up to Him. Whew! What a relief! But I find myself having to die to myself so often in this area…maybe even multiple times a day…ugh. I lay it at His feet and pick it up again, so concerned with the fruits of “my” ministry, as if it all depended on me. The line between being a good steward of the gifts/talents God has given you and using them for His glory versus turning a ministry into a business and pushing for results is a lot thinner than one thinks, especially when people back home are asking, “So how many have you led to the Lord?”
Ah….if it were only that easy. If things here in Africa worked on our paradigm of “time is money”. But they don’t. And this inner struggle among missionaries is real. Here’s another poem I wrote about it. Maybe one day I’ll turn it into a song….
Would I still go, if the conditions were tough?
Would I still go alone?
Would Your presence be enough?
Would I obey, If Lord, You asked me stay?
Would I still tell, those hard hearts of how You sent Your Son?
Would I still go, so they’d know You’re the Chosen One?
When times get tough, would just one soul be enough?
Do I dare, raise my children, build a home
leave behind my loved ones to face the unknown?
Would I give my life, for those who’d freely take it?
Would I sacrifice comfort or fame
to spend my life proclaiming Your name?
What if no one believes…what would I do then?
How I wish the answer were simple
A quick yes or no, then no looking back
How I wish it weren’t a daily decision of laying it down
knowing I’ll only take it back.
Despite my doubts and struggles, I know at the end of the day
In all sovereignty You simply ask me to…