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Peace in the Storms; Courage in Crises

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Having to love and support family from afar is never so difficult as when our loved ones are caught up in a time of crises. It is the intensity of such times that they and their families back home are all called upon to perform acts of courage they really did not think they were capable of.

For how does one sort through the myriad of decisions that requires a sound mind to guide one’s family safely through risky and at times even dangerous situations? And for those back home holding their breath as they wait for assurances their loved ones are safe? How do they keep from worrying themselves sick?

I mentioned previously that situations like these bring forth courage. But how does one put aside the fear, worry, and stress long enough to take on courageous? The reality is that in the face of such challenges the temptation to give into the fear, etc. is stronger than we realize.

Personally, I discovered the only way I could reject fear and worry was to tune my hearing to only one voice. When I did the peace that passes all understanding calmed my heart and ruled over my fear. That kind of peace is only accessible from God.

How, can one avoid being overcome with fear and worry during such turmoil? But if I have discovered anything in sending my children off to answer God’s call upon their lives is this. “When we answer God’s bidding to follow Him, He equips us to carry out His plan. And as God called them to go, He just as surely called me to let them go.” And though it is hard, it is doable!

So when His calling places us in difficult and even dangerous situations we have the confidence that He is in control. That He will never leave us or forsake us. That we can have peace in the midst of the storm. And for me, that the safest place on earth for my children is in the center of His will.

But this assurance isn’t just for those who are in full time service to God. It’s for any of us who have Christ as our Savior. It’s not an easy life we should pray for. We should pray for a life that knows how to turn to God and seek His purpose for the crises we find ourselves in. That is true for any Christian; not just those on the foreign field.

Supplying above and beyond what we ask for!

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   You know sometimes we just need a friend! Someone to come alongside us. Someone to share the workload. Someone who thinks like we do. Someone who could give us a fresh perspective. Someone who could offer encouragement when needed. Oh I could go on, but the following verse pretty much nails it.

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

   When my son and daughter in law, and their team mate moved to a new mission field, I began to specifically pray for God to supply friends for them. My prayers covered a broad range of reasons of why I felt they needed friends. 

   Recently, I learned plans are in the making for a family to move to the city where my son is now living. The really cool thing is that their friendship began back in the States. Their friendship has a history. I am confident their history will serve them well in their future. 

  It has been my experience that when we pray for God to supply a need, He characteristically goes above and beyond what we asked for. He certainly has proven that to be true in this case. 

Responsibilities of a missionary’s mom

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Stay in contact with whatever means possible

   Thanks to that beautiful satellite that circles the earth, we don’t have to feel so disconnected from our children when they leave to parts unknown. And thankfully communicating via the internet, doesn’t cost us anything! Back in the day, when people traveled across the ocean to answer a call from God, their parents didn’t know if they would ever see them again. In our day, we have been spared that burden. We have much to be grateful for, don’t we.

Pray and share with our children how we are praying

  Praying constantly for our children across the seas, is a given. We don’t have to be told to do this, do we! I suggest finding bible verses that address their particular needs. This would be helpful and encouraging to them.

Stay informed as to  our children’s prayer requests

   We should also ask our children for their prayer requests. And when appropriate, recruit others to pray for those needs. The more people that are praying for our children, the better. But remember:

Keep confidences

   Security levels vary depending on where our children are serving. Seek their permission before sharing their prayer requests. Become informed as to how it should be worded, if it is to be shared. It is not necessary or wise to give too much detail.

 

As a general rule, be vague about using personal and place names

   Many of our children are on Facebook, so check out how they present information there. Follow their lead when you share anything online. Personally, I limit myself when giving out details concerning personal and place names. My children’s service area doesn’t require this, but I prefer to play it safe when I am writing my blogs. And with all that’s going on with Facebook these days, we should be careful about any information we place there. 

Keep them informed of what’s going on back home (the good and the not so good)

   Being so far away, our children loose touch with the daily goings on. Even though they may miss being with family and friends back home, they still want to stay connected. So, keep them informed of the major events and be sensitive about the details you choose to share. Some things are best not to share. Depend on God’s leading in this. 

Make sure our children have no doubt of our support

   Our children have made some radical changes in their lifestyles to follow God’s call upon their lives. They need to know that their families back home not only are praying for them but support them wholeheartedly. They have enough to deal with. We only add to their load if their family back home, for whatever reason, can’t release them to their calling. Let’s keep our focus on what is best for them. We have God’s grace to give us the strength we need to let them go. 

 

Thanking God for you who pray for our missionaries on their birthdays!

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  Wow, I’ve always taken great comfort in knowing that my missionary children have thousands, if not millions, praying for them on their birthdays.  However, the unexpected event that occasioned my daughter in law’s birthday Feb. 21st, demonstrated anew why that prayer support is so vital. 

   On 2/21 my daughter in law celebrated her birthday. Her husband, however, was away  in another country on a one month teaching assignment!  Therefore, taking care of two very energetic boys had to be done single handily. (Birthday or not) She’s been relying on the comfort of God’s presence for the energy and will power she was daily in desperate need of. And when the day of her birthday arrived, she found herself needing much more from God than she had expected!

images-3         Why?     images-3

   Because their youngest fell from a 4′ wall and needed to be taken to the ER. No calling an ambulance where they lived! So the other missionaries  living in the mission complex with my daughter in law went into family mode. One watched over their 5 year old while another drove my daughter in law and my grandson to the ER. Now this may not sound extraordinary!  But just trust me on this…it’s unnerving!  (3rd world big city, crowded, and chaotic streets! With a 3-year old and his mother in distress? You get the picture!) 

   Gratefully, the concussion that was expected never developed. My rambunctious grandson recovered with all his energy intact. (Though he may have slowed down somewhat as a result of his fall.) The wonderful news is… he is fine!

   And during all of this commotion, my daughter in law’s birthday had to be put on the back burner. On arriving home, much was made better by the thoughtfulness of her 5 year old son (and added thoughtfulness on the part of the other missionaries on site, I’m sure) who presented his mom with a crown and declared her queen for the day. Kids just know how to lighten the moment, don’t they!

Maridith and her bday crown

  So the next time you read your prayer calendar, remember my daughter in law and the unexpected challenge that announced itself on her birthday. You may not know the particular needs of our missionaries on the day of their birthdays, but God does! And on those special days, He individualizes our prayers, fashioning them to meet needs we know not of. 

GO INTO ALL THE WORLD

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THROUGH PRAYER

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   We can have a big part in making Christ known to the world. You want to know how? By taking to heart the prayer requests of our missionaries!

   For instance, my son’s team has recently made a most agonizing decision to not return to the country where they have spent the last few years.  Yet, they are concerned about the young disciples and the churches that were planted there. Additionally, they are seeking God as to where He will lead them next. Sharing these prayer requests is a priority for them.

  There is much we can do regarding these requests, even though we are not serving as missionaries ourselves. We should never underestimate the power of millions of people praying over missionaries’ prayer requests. For the more people who know of these requests the more people there will be who will be praying over them.

  It is standard operating procedure these days for missionaries to call on friends and families to join their prayer team. Joining these prayer teams and recruiting others to do the same is a responsibility we should take very seriously. Following their blogs and their twitter accounts keep us informed of their prayer concerns. When you get a prayer request be faithful to pray over it and share it with as many as possible. (Always using the security guidelines the missionaries have given)

   Taking to heart the prayer requests of our missionaries gives us the opportunity to take an active part in making Christ known to the world. In America we live in an environment where the temptation to live for ourselves instead of Christ (2 Cor. 5:15) is formidable. This temptation won’t be so easy to succumb to, if we direct our focus onto something outside of ourselves such as the prayer request of our missionaries.G

How the economic downturn is affecting our missionaries, and how we can pray for them.

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During my time in the African bush, I met a wonderful missionary couple. I have asked them if I could share their concerns over the recent economic crisis concerning our missionaries and they gave their consent! Please read an excerpt from their newsletter regarding this subject, paying special attention to the prayer requests listed at the end.
The Financial Crisis at the IMB
The economic downturn of the last few years obviously hit the IMB very hard. You have likely read the news of the severe moves that the IMB is having to make in order to keep as many of our missionaries on the field as possible. This comes at a time of unprecedented access to the most difficult and hard-to-reach peoples of the earth. Voluntary Retirement Incentives are being offered to those who are over 50 years old and have at least five years of IMB experience. As we heard Dr. Platt and other top leaders announce this to missionaries and staff, you could hear the catch in their voices. (In case you’ve not read it, here’s the link to the open letter from Dr. Platt to Southern Baptists: Dr. Platt’s letter) Asking for our most experienced, well-connected, and culturally adapted personnel to voluntarily retire is certainly not the “A Plan,” but it was clear to us that our leadership has considered alternatives and believes this drastic move to be necessary at this time.
The Exciting Future of the IMB
This decision DOES NOT in any way dampen the vision for creating opportunities of service and pathways for 100,000 new overseas missionaries! We have worked with some of the “newer” missionaries and have met some of those who have been appointed recently. Their commitment to Christ, and their zeal to share the Gospel and the Word of God to the Unreached is so challenging! We are excited to know that our own gifts to the CP through our local church and those given directly to the LMCO are being used to support these men and women who are joining our experienced field personnel! As IMB missionaries, we are indeed “faith missionaries,” trusting God to provide through Southern Baptists who will passionately support IMB missions now and in the future! We are convinced that the best years of the IMB are ahead!
What now?
-Please consider today to be a strategic time to give to the IMB! Your timely gifts will be appreciated more now than ever before!
-Please pray for the IMB leadership as they seek to obey the Lord as well as meet the expectations of Southern Baptists by keeping our missionaries on the field.
-Please pray for all the IMB missionaries who are seeking God’s will in their decision about their future employment.
-Please pray specifically for us, as we strive to discern God’s best for us at this time. The reduction plan means that 1 out of 6 employees must find employment elsewhere. What does God want us to do? Jesus’ parable in Luke 19:6-10 reminds us that we are the Lord’s unworthy slaves and our desire is to be obedient to our Master. We rest knowing that His plans for us are always for His glory and our best!
-Please pray for us following Epaphras’ example in Colossians 4:12: that we would stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. We can’t wait to see what HE does next!

Not generally speaking!

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   Praying for our missionaries is something I do in earnest now. I grew up in a church that brought the need of praying for our missionaries to my attention. Every church I have served in since childhood has promoted praying for our missionaries as well.  So naturally, I prayed for them, consistently, but in a general way.

   Yet when my own son became a missionary my perspective on praying for our missionaries took on a new more intense facet. I suppose that is to be expected! However, I want to share with you some particulars of how I now pray and even if you won’t feel it to the depth that I do, I hope you will consider these particulars as you faithfully pray for our missionaries.

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Philippians 4:6-7, Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

There’s lots of reasons why our missionaries might grow anxious (especially today). But as this verse proclaims, in those anxious situations they can focus on being thankful for them.  Because in every situation, God has the power to bring good out of bad situations. That’s the key to the peace this verse claims.

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Isaiah 54:17, no weapon forged against you will prevail.

No weapon of any kind, be it anyone or anything.

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2 Timothy 1:7, For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a strong mind.

When our missionaries face their days, they must reject fear and grasp the power, love, and strong mind provided to them by God. That needs to rule their thinking; not fear.

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Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

We need to pray that they will cooperate with God daily as He works out His plans for them.

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Matthew 9:31, But they went out and spread the news about Him throughout all that land.

We must pray that they will be successful in making Christ known to the people they have been called to serve.

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Pray that in their personal problems they will have the vision to know what they must do to experience true resolution and honor God.

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Then finally, remember that because of their calling they must endure separation from their families back home. This is hard because family life back home continues to happen but without them. It’s hard on our missionaries and believe me, it’s hard on their families back home. So, put yourselves in our place and remember to pray for the grace and mercy needed to live our lives separated from the ones we love. 

BACK TO THE BUSH: Unconventional Prayers!

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Airport? Yep, dirt runway and 1 plane!

Airport in the Bush: No buildings, dirt runway, one plane!

     Living in the bush is nothing, and I mean nothing, like the life I live here at home. I want you to think of going to the airport to pick up someone. Images such as driving down a smooth highway in rather heavy traffic, making a mad dash to the airport so you get there before the plane lands, pulling into the airport with planes taking off and landing overhead, air traffic control towers positioned strategically near the asphalt covered runways, or entering the multi-leveled terminals perhaps come to mind. Now, discard almost every one of them. 

February 22,2013

     On this particular morning, I was given the opportunity to ride with my son to the airstrip (notice I didn’t say airport) to pick up a couple from their mission organization, who were making a routine visit to see how well the missionaries in their charge were faring. 

     By the time it was decided that my son and I were to leave it was 8:52 a.m. and this couple was to arrive at 9:30. It typically took a minimum of 45 minutes to make such a trip.  You do the math! This was the familiar part of the experience–making a mad dash to the airport to arrive before the plane landed! 

    We needed to navigate the route as quickly as possible and for a very good reason–if the plane arrived before we did this dear couple would have to wait for us. Not a good idea!  For you see, unlike our airports, there were NO buildings where they could wait. It would be a matter of standing out in the open, on this lonely little strip of dirt!

    At the outset of the trip, I began praying. Roads there are pitted with holes of all depths and sizes, so my son’s daunting task was to dodge these potholes as speedily as possible.  My task was to keep my eyes glued to the road and warn him of the potholes and bumps ahead. 

     At one point, I failed to warn my son in time about a dip in the road ahead (we were in rather a hurry, you see) and the land rover went airborne. You know, I had always wondered what it might have been like for those Duke boys when the General Lee catapulted into the air! Well, now I knew!

     And just as we turned onto the road that led to the airstrip, my son saw the plane high up in the sky just beginning to make its descent. We high 5’d each other and shouted with relief! (Just like the Duke boys!) I thanked God (for the sake of the couple we were meeting) for understanding and mercifully seeing fit to  answer the rather unconventional prayers this not so typical mom of a missionary had been praying!

Today, I am weary!

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I got a phone call from my son while I was in Sunday School this morning and while his voice sounded upbeat (I suspect being infused with anticipation of their upcoming month long break) the pressures of life there are still ongoing.  My grandson is recovering yet again from a bout of illness.  This time a virus with all the trimmings; you know, throwing up, fever, etc.  I wonder if their thoughts are ever plagued with, “Will it never end?”

My son shared with me that he had lately had a dream.  It was a comforting dream, fill with scenes of singing and playing his bluegrass instruments in our church and taking a drive through the rural countryside around home.  His dream was a blessing and I believe a gift from God.  Yet I wonder if the dream was a reflection of his need for relief from the stress and strain of life in this new land?

When I hung up the phone, a wave of weariness washed over me.  I am tired for them. I am tired of the circumstances characteristic of their life style–armed guards surrounding them 24/7, sweltering heat pounding them constantly (their solar panels are having to be replaced for the present ones are insufficient to support air conditioning units; and that’s a sweat and wait scenario), a child whose little body has had to work overtime in conditioning itself to this environment into which he has been born with lots of bumps along the way in the process; not to mention the regular stresses of learning a new language, a new culture, a challenging and hot climate.  Living without access to medical facilities and having to handle most emergencies on their own–yes, my son stitched up his team mate a few days ago when he cut a big gash in his back—is a sobering reality where they live.   I think my son and daughter in law do better than most in adapting to living in a foreign 3rd world country; but honestly, I wonder just how much more they can take!

So today, I am weary and my praying reflects my weariness; so does my writing! I thank God they have this month long break to which they can look forward.  Knowing they have that keeps me from going under for them.

All of you who read my blog, would you just intensify your prayers for my son, daughter in law, and grandson? Pray for peace in the land to which they have been called and that the challenges they must face will ease up some for them.  Mainly, just to keep their focus on Jesus and not the storm!

Handling the Distance!

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Let me just say, in response to the above statement:

IT’S NOT EASY!

This is without a doubt the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life.  Nothing about this is easy – NOTHING!

 Every time I turn on the tv, my computer, or my phone, there’s some scary news event that just adds to my concerns for the well being of my long distance family.  

And let’s add to this the ever present dilemma of a humongous ocean separating me from my only son, daughter-in-law, and now my new grandson!  

And to make matters worse, there is no high-speed internet in my son’s home, so how often do you think I’m going to be able to video chat with them, or without it will they be alert to what’s going on in the world?

I could go on and on.  Any of you missionary parents out there or any parent who is separated in distance and time from their children are feeling my pain right now–right?  So, how do we handle the distance? (Without going crazy, I ask you!)  

HERE’S WHAT I WOULD RECOMMEND!

First Step:  ACCEPT REALITY!  No matter how much I might wish my son & his family lived here in the U.S.–the simple, truthful, undeniable reality is THEY DON’T!  No amount of wishing on my part is going to change that!  This is what God has called them (and I might add, me) to. THIS IS THE WAY IT IS!

Second Step:  PRAY! Pour your heart out to God.  Probably you should go find some secluded spot for this.  I’m serious!  Get by yourself and hold nothing back.  Unpack every dark and painful thought that lurks in your mind.  God won’t be surprised at anything you unpack. He knew it was there before you did.  

Third Step: GET OUT YOUR BIBLE! Now this is the part where God replaces what you unpacked with the thoughts He wants to pack.  The more you are in God’s Word the more you are going to be helped and guided by it.  For instances, with the attacks on American embassies and Americans that has been saturating the news recently, the fiery darts of fear have bombarded me.  Therefore, I’m camping down on any verse God gives me that has to do with His power to protect.  Psalm 91 is a powerhouse of a psalm to go to when you are concerned about a loved one’s safety.  I especially found helpful the prayer I found with this psalm at the address below: (I have modified the wording to fit my personal need)

http://www.missionariesofprayer.org/2010/11/psalm-91-prayer-hedge-protection/

Heavenly Father, I ask You to place a hedge of protection around them, and hide them  from the enemy, familiar spirits, any and all demon spirits, making it difficult, if not impossible for them to effectively track or trace them in the realm of the spirit. There shall be no perforations or penetrations to these hedges of protection according to your word in Psalm 91. I know that You will answer this prayer because I love You and I trust in Your name only.  I pray that Your blood Lord Jesus will cover them and all that You have given them.  That the enemy will not have access to what has been given to them. Thank you for your divine protection in Jesus Name, Amen.

Therefore, take every disturbing thought, every fear to God in prayer, then wait for Him to direct you to a verse that will address that particular issue.  And remember, don’t allow the enemy to steal what God has given you.  Unbelief, doubt, etc. are all tools the enemy uses (I call them fiery darts).  But God’s Words overpowers each and every dart–never forget that.

Let me wrap this up by saying:

Don’t expect life to be easy.  Know that it’s going to be hard.  (Betcha, already figured that out!)

Sending your children off to unknown parts of the earth, as far as I know, hasn’t got any easy ingredient in it anywhere!  So don’t be surprised when  you find it’s a bit overwhelming!

BUT KNOW THIS!

God’s plan is to equip you to handle what He calls you (and yours) to!

And with obedience comes lots and lots of joy and lots and lots of blessings! (Try focusing on that why don’t you!)

So wanna know how you can handle the distance that now exists since your child left for the mission field?

Philippians 4:6-7, “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

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