Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Thoughts (and Thanks) on Returning Home After Three Weeks Abroad

I climbed into my own bed, in my own home, just after 10:30 pm Monday night. I'd been away for three hard, wonderful, life-changing weeks. 

The next blog post will be more typical, but, today, I'm sharing a few thoughts about my trip. 

Three weeks of non-stop intercession is a long time. The first half of the trip was a mission-trip of intercession in the Middle East. The last part of my trip was spent at a Global member care mission retreat in Jordan and Israel. I spent the retreat time with missionaries, listening, laughing, and connecting. I prayed with and for our missionaries almost non-stop. 

It took me a while to understand that the second part of my journey was a mission-trip of intercession, too. 

Communication was harder than I anticipated. I didn't blog as much as I'd expected while I was gone, nor iMessage, nor text. The time difference was confusing. While I was awake, the majority of people who follow my blog were snug in their beds.

Most of the time, my internet connections were terrible, at best. I would frequently start an email or blog post, then lose internet connection before I could finish. 

I missed being constantly connected, but being without that connection was freeing, as well. 

Your prayers made a huge difference. I know that you were praying for me, because you commented on Facebook posts, emailed, and messaged. You kept communicating, even when I couldn't respond, and I'm so very grateful. 

You made a huge difference in my ability to persevere. Thank you. 

Through your support, you were as much a part of the work as I was. I couldn't have gone if people hadn't supported me with prayer, hands-on help to keep my at-home responsibilities going, and financial gifts. 

You all made it possible, and you all share in the fruit. (I'll let you know more about that fruit soon.) Thank you. 

Because of those serving in dangerous locations, I couldn't share everything I did, and I still can't. Not every nation has as much religious freedom as we have in the U.S. Protecting believers who are in at-risk locations is critical, so I can share more in-person than online. 

There's more work to be done. Our new "virtual prayer walk" will allow you to participate in the ongoing work of intercession from the comfort of your home. I hope to have that ready to go in the next couple of weeks and would love to share with your church, Sunday School class, or small group. I'm happy to do an in-your-home presentation, too. Please invite me. 

You can go. The Great Commission applies to all of us. Whether you participate via a virtual prayer walk, by adopting a national on the field for prayer, or by going overseas, you, too, can help with the work of the mission, and you should. 

There are tremendous needs and opportunities for those interested in doing a short-term mission trip. Prayer walking. Visits to schools. Help with English-as-a-second-language classes. Sports camps. Computer workshops. (I'Encouraging believers. Loving those who aren't believers. Playing with kids. 

It's all important and we need you to help. Everywhere I went, I felt as "safe" as I do here at home. If you're interested in making a trip to the Middle East, or if your church might be interested, let me know. Even a 7-10 day trip can make an enormous difference for the Kingdom of God.

The work of mission is harder than I knew. It's also sweeter. 

People who serve on the other side of the globe do it knowing that they'll miss birthdays, holidays, and fun-time at home with family and friends, but that God will bless them for their sacrifice.

They miss hearing their heart-language. 

They miss the foods, luxuries, and simple conveniences of home. I saw two missionaries more excited over four boxes of cake mix than I could quite comprehend and quite a few adults and children who were beyond excited over bags of chocolate chips.

Simply preparing meals for their families is a tremendous undertaking, and fast-food options are few and very far between. 

Missionaries on tight budgets do without. 

Cold showers are common, and so are water shortages. When the monthly allotment of water is used up, you have to purchase more at an extravagant rate or do without showers and baths. 

Electricity is a luxury. When you're dependent on solar-power, it's hard to have electricity in the rainy season. Even when it's sunny, there may only be electricity for a few hours a day.

Outdoor kitchens and cooking over an  open fire are more common methods of food preparation than I realized. One of our missionaries shared her cooking-on-flat-stones techniques with me as if it were the most normal method of food preparation in the world. It probably is.

I should be praying harder for these precious people, and I will be going forward. I hope you will be, too.

Not all the fruit of intercession is instant. Our culture has a microwave, fast food mind set that expects instant results. The work of on-site intercession does not bend to those rules, but I wish it did.

I saw God move, on the spot, many times. We also prayed prayers for which answers weren't immediately forthcoming, but I'm confident that God will answer in due time. 

I've come to understand the power of story-telling in a deeper way, and I have lots of stories to share. I don't know if they'll be individual blog posts or an all-together ebook, but they'll probably be a combination of both.

Rest is more important than I realized, and it's not optional for disciples of Christ. We took Sabbath rests that were actually rest. It was incredibly refreshing. I learned that  occasional rest and recreation are required if you hope to stay consistently productive. 

I work out of a state of exhaustion more often than not, and my "rest" usually looks a lot more like work than it should. It's not God's plan, and I'm sufficiently convicted about my failure. I'll be resting intentionally more often going forward. 

Home is wherever the Spirit of God is, so I'm comfortable almost anywhere. I already knew this, but I think some people may have been surprised. I felt completely at home in Jordan and completely at home in Israel. When I headed out alone for a day of rambling in Jerusalem, it seemed the most natural thing in the world. 

I'm glad to be home in Blue Springs, but I miss the Middle East more than I expected. It's home now, too. 

"Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20 NLT

"And you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere - in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:8 NLT
How you can help:
1) Like and share to extend my digital reach
2) Invite me to share about my trip. I have great pictures and fun stories. 

In case you missed my last blog post, here's the link: Letters on the Judas Rock

This ministry is so much more than a blog. Speaking. Teaching. Hands-on outreach. Connecting with and encouraging missionaries around the world. It's only possible because of the generosity of your support. 

Together, we're making progress, but help is still needed. (I don't get a salary until this ministry is funded) If God has called you to help, here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 or you can mail your check or money order to:
Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line.

No comments:

Post a Comment