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I’m realizing that I’m both OVERDUE for an update and OVERFLOWING with words, which isn’t necessarily ALWAYS a great combination. I’ve had quite a few people recently ask me what I’m DOING now and, in going back over my last few updates, I realized I was pretty long-winded and many may not have caught the answer to that question! So, here’s my attempt at a shortER answer…not sure if I can give a SHORT one. lol
Recently, in one of my quiet times, God gave me a phrase that helped me make sense of my “role” here as I serve in the States. For those of you who spend a lot of time with me, you probably tire of me continually “processing” this transition. It has taken me a LONG time this time, despite seeing God’s direction, leading, provision, and BLESSING along the way. Most of my life is different than what I expected it to be when we left for Africa in 2011. I guess my kids and I could be poster children for Third Culture people in transition. Whole books and conferences are devoted to that topic, so I’ll leave that for another conversation. Feel free to ask me about it if you want to figure us out.
“I’m still a missionary. I’ve just gone from being a ‘cross-cultural missionary’ to a ‘counter-cultural missionary.’”
noun: missionary; plural noun: missionaries
- a person sent on a religious mission, especially one sent to promote Christianity in a foreign country.
- of, relating to, or characteristic of a missionary or a religious mission.
You see, I’m STILL a fully-supported, active member of Africa Inland Mission. I have been asked to serve as a Member Mobilizer (a role similar to a “rep” for other mission organizations) because my gifts, talents, experience on the field, testimony, and sphere of influence all work together to fill a need within our organization. My job description is a page long, but the bottom line is that I concurrently carry out three different purposes simultaneously:
- I have “initiatives” that have been set forth by AIM to work toward our “Vision 2020” goals. See more about that here: http://us.aimint.org/about/vision2020/
- These goals have me focusing on building and nurturing partnerships and working relationships with churches, organizations, mission training schools, and universities in order to facilitate sending new workers to Africa, even to the darkest of places.
- Part of my job description involves recruiting, mentoring, and coming alongside people who are 1) applying to be missionaries with AIM, 2) preparing to go serve in Africa, or 3) returning from a term of service and either on Home Assignment or transitioning back to the States.
- In addition to my full-time job and ministry with AIM, God continues to “increase my territory” and sphere of influence with my speaking. This somehow thrills me and stretches me at the same time. He ALWAYS speaks hard things to ME even as I am challenging others. It really is a perfect “pairing” with my position at AIM and the doors He opens for me always remind me that He is in control.
Why do I say “counter-cultural?” Well, I’ve noticed that I just don’t feel like I fit in most of the time. I feel foreign in my home country and I often can’t figure out why I just don’t “get” some of the things that go on here, in AND out of the church. Yet, God has spoken clearly to me that this is GOOD and, actually it’s quite biblical. I should LOOK different than our worldly culture and love people in a way that STANDS OUT and reflects Christ.
1 Peter 3:14-16New International Version (NIV)
14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats[a]; do not be frightened.”[b] 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
Lastly, because He is a good, good Father, God has given me a very SPECIFIC verse and task for this season of life (Psalm 40:9-10), “I PROCLAIM your saving acts in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, LORD, as you know. J I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I SPEAK of your faithfulness and your saving help.”
I cannot thank God enough for the MANY faithful friends and supporters who CONTINUE to sacrificially give in order to keep me serving. THIS is what I KNOW God’s purpose is for me AND that which I was MADE to do. Please know that what I am doing NOW is the greatest contribution I can make to reach the unreached in Africa with the Gospel. God has shown me that I am much more effective in THIS role in sending MANY to places I cannot go myself to do works that I cannot do in this season of life with this many responsibilities. This is His merciful way to provide for my kids and me AND still allow me the privilege of serving Him. I would love to meet with you personally to tell you all of the exciting details of what God has been doing in our lives through this crazy transition. I’m obviously also available to come and speak in your churches, small groups, organizations, teach about Africa in your classes, or generally to PROCLAIM and SPEAK of His faithfulness. (Below: speaking at Mexico Caravan Ministries where I had the privilege of being on the speaking rotation this summer.)
AND! You can still PRAY and give too! http://us.aimint.org/give/