When I moved overseas, my capacity shrank. See, the Africa slice of my pie was simply…ginormous.
Everything took about three extra steps. Need to brush your teeth? You might not want to use water from the tap. You’ll need to fill your water filter or boil it; if your water’s off for the day, you’ll need to haul it in from outside.
I remember specifically the day my mom flew home after my first child was born. Gone were all the nurses in the hospital; gone was the woman who had successfully raised four functioning young adults. Being alone with a blinking person who still has their umbilical cord attached can make a parent kind of, you know.
When I was 23, an editor position opened up at the publishing house where I was working. In the vein of having integrity, I approached my boss with my interest in the position.
“You don’t have the chops for that job,” he told me point-blank.
His blithe directness, to be frank, chapped my hide. But looking back now, there’s no doubt in my mind he was right. I’m not sure if I have the chops for that particular job now. Yet it did make me take a look at the job itself and gradually appreciate just how off my self-assessment was–as well as my understanding of the job itself. And honestly, I buckled down to eventually be the kind of person who could qualify for a job like that.
The lists when you’re headed overseas? Pretty much interminable–all the stuff from “take passport photo” to “can I get bedsheets??” Maybe you’re the kind whose life right now feels divided into a few overwhelming spreadsheets. Maybe your “to bring” sheet includes bug repellent, shot records, mosquito nets, scrubs, shoes for the shower.
Ready for a checklist for your medical equipment?We’ve talked with DRE Medical’s Amanda Cannady, who serves as Director of their Global Outreach Division. DRE Medical is owned in part by a former missionary and has supplied global medical equipment for the last 35 years.
So you’re heading overseas in a medical capacity–as if the overseas part wasn’t enough, right? Hopefully you’ve got an experienced organization behind you. But you might feel thrown in the deep end a bit as you get things off the ground.
We’ve talked with DRE Medical’s Amanda Cannady, who serves as Director of their Global Outreach Division. DRE Medical is owned in part by a former missionary and has supplied global medical equipment for the last 35 years.
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.
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.