Craig Thompson challenges “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well”, “If it’s important to you, then it’s important to God” and other phrases he’s put in perspective in his time on the field. Great words here.
20 Things No One Told You About Moving Overseas
Dan and Marlene in the Philippines offer their characteristic humor and honesty in disclosing what to expect when you’re not expecting. Includes gems like “You will love fast food, even if you didn’t before.” Grab them all here.
Jennifer Waldrep writes from Peru, “This concept of a few nations with fancy resources being the players and the rest of the world being the mission field is as outdated as colonialism.” She quotes a man named Alfaro:
We Peruvians never had the idea that the one to bring the gospel would be a national…Rather a . . . European or American missionary—all the more if it were a white person. There was the idea that the privilege of bringing the gospel belonged to white people. This concept came from generations back—from our ancestors. Missions always was foreign. It came from elsewhere.
So I sat in Beijing, waiting on a flight. I think it was a combination of the jet lag (for me, tired = emotional) and (get this) the church announcements that brought tears to my eyes on the skybridge. I should explain that last one: In my job of presenting the video announcements every week, I find someone (or Google how) to dismiss the kids to children’s church in a different language every week (sounds weird, but it works)–and offer ways to pray for that people group (from sites like Operation World and The Joshua Project). Around Chinese New Year a couple of months ago, my friend Nary said goodbye in Mandarin, and we bowed together.
That announcement was how I knew 1 out of every 8 people in the world are Chinese–and that the number of Chinese Christians has now surpassed that of the Communist party. Perhaps because Randy Alcorn’s Safely Home transported me into the world of Chinese persecution of Christians–and this novel enlightened me on some of Christianity’s thriving before Communism–my heart leaps at the thought of China coming alive.
Yet it still breaks for China. There were a billion people sitting around me, separated only by plate glass. And how many of them have ever heard they can be satisfied in their souls? How many have known that mind-blowing love, or a hope they could never explain in words?
But as God lures me deeper in, drawing me to his great chest, I can’t help but hear that heartbeat of his for the nations, too. When I walk into Beijing, I see some form of “people who don’t know their right from their left. And should I not love that great city?” (Jonah 4:11).
It’s this colorful, jangly thread through his words to us that keeps popping up: from making Abraham a blessing to all nations (Gen. 22:18), to his heart for the foreigner in all the Mosaic law (Deuteronomy 10:19 et al), through Isaiah and Psalms. It weaves through nearly every book of the Bible, all the way to the “end” of this side of the story, where people in every shade that his pastels churned out are there. They’re adoring him in every language (Rev. 7:9), like Mandarin and an Arkansas twang, and their souls are finally satisfied. (That’s something cool this brother-in-law of mine does: creating the same music that can be sung in different languages! But I digress.)
The Group Effort
Honestly, I am still getting over the fact that I’m essentially a “goer” who needs to stay right now. But if I can’t go, I see I’ve got to send well. This “go and make disciples of all nations” thing is a group effort, and no one really gets a pass, y’know?
This year, God has restated over and over again that my heart can be broken for the things that break His–wherever I’m at. Can I see them with his eyes? Can I keep myself from making an us/them distinction, whether it’s the guy washing my dishes at the Chinese restaurant, or the immigrants at the border? Isn’t our profound need for Jesus the great equalizer?
If you will, pray with me, friends: to have his eyes. And his heart.
You’ve just returned on home assignment. And the first thing someone asks is, “How was it?” (Or my personal favorite: “How was Africa?” “How was the Middle East?” etc. Hmm. I haven’t asked…all of them.)
Do I unleash the fire hose with my one hour spiel?
Do I shrivel up? “Um. Y’know. It was good.”
You want to be positive. Relevant. Authentic. And you want your (currently oblivious) listener encouraged, i.e. not bowled over…without perpetuating global work myths: Every cockroach was so worth it! I shared my faith every day 46 times!Who needs sleep? Not me.
Amy Medina writes compellingly of the seasons of overseas life. At the beginning,
the remnants of your old life stay with you for a long time. At first, keeping in touch with your friends back at home is a big priority. You get lots of packages in the mail. You grieve the loss of all that you left behind. But you are excited to be in this new place you dreamed about for so long, and that excitement keeps you going for a while. After the honeymoon wears off–which could happen in a week or a year–then it just takes grit. A lot of grit. As in, I’m going to grit my teeth and stay here even though I hate it.
Want to hear the happy ending? Guess you’ll have to click here.
None of us had heard an audible voice, to my knowledge. That would have been nice, considering all the times you wonder what in the world you’ve gotten yourself into; all the times you’re second-guessing because the work and the results didn’t look how you thought. Did I hear you right?
Today, for the first time in my life, I stepped inside a Hindu temple.
The first thing I noticed was the air. Thick and heavy, like a weight on your chest. I don’t know for sure whether it was spiritual oppression, the power of suggestion, or simply the smell of incense that made it difficult to breathe. The temple sprawled out like a museum display, with little deities grinning out of marble boxes like painted dolls. Waxen candles glittered from dark corners of the room. Fervent worshippers, their eyes closed in prayer, muttered and moaned in unfamiliar tongues. Somewhere behind me, a bell clanged. I jumped and turned, tearing my gaze away from the smiles of statues in glittering gold.
My first trip to the grocery store in East Africa was….overwhelming. There may have been some tears when I got home.
Maybe it was worse because I didn’t expect grocery shopping to be a source of stress. My friend had been raving about how she loved this grocery store. And I was excited to finally dive in to cooking for my family and not relying on the kindness of other members of our expat community for meals.
But there I was, swallowing back tears. A few example factors (many of which may seem lame, but made sense in my culturally-overwhelmed season of life):
Today we’re thrilled to welcome Ellie Ciccarelli, a vibrant Colorado native who found new purpose in the mountains of Kenya, were she now serves the Digo people with Africa Inland Mission. The honest thoughts in this post first appeared on Ellie’s blog, Kenya Digo It?
The next time you want to ask me, or any global worker, why we’re so tired, please read this first.
Have you ever lived abroad? Have you ever lived among another people group? Have you ever stuck out like a sore thumb no matter where you turn? Have you ever tried to speak a different language 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Have you ever had to be conscious of everything you said, you did, you wore, you ate, you implied, all the time?
I grew up overseas. In fact, I attended 15 different schools by the time I graduated high school. So you could say I’ve experienced my share of goodbyes. (Usually I was the one leaving.)
Now that I have a family of my own and have lived in the same city and the same house, for an amazing thirteen-year stretch, I’m now experiencing more goodbyes where I am the one staying behind. Recently I visited a friend during her final week as they loaded up their tilting piles of cardboard boxes and their kids to take a new job four states away. Before I arrived, I sat in the parking lot of a shopping plaza, scrawling her going away card. It felt like my pen also flowed with my own memories of bittersweet goodbyes. And I thought, What makes for the best goodbyes?