Lifelong Christians aren’t supposed to get frustrated, or discouraged, or wonder if they’ve made enough errors to be abandoned. Seeing miracles from time to time is supposed to shelter the faithful ones from all forms of doubt. Or, that’s what we tell ourselves…or perhaps tell each other.
Well, this lifelong Christian, called missionary, and observer of miracles has been having a rough go of it. Few know how discouraged I’ve been getting, how many times I’ve wondered if I’d have served better by staying in my former life. A six-figure life, complete with modest mortgage, two cats, and a fair bit of affirmation from coworkers, church leadership, and my beloved youth group. But I was under a call to another realm – the place of seeking deaf people and introducing them to Jesus. So I packed up my gear and headed north to focus on relearning American Sign Language (ASL).
The plan to become an interpreter for income fell through, leaving a lot of dust, doubt, and debt in its wake. I was at a point of nearly despairing, considering the need to return home and admit defeat. Then came a period of two weeks where I was placed in a home and assigned to a ministry. Not only was I not forgotten, not abandoned, but I was on track once again in a place of service to reach the most invisible and spiritually isolated people all over the world – deaf children. I’ve since moved steadily south to get closer to ministry headquarters, living in four different guest rooms so far.
I confidently agreed to accept whatever funding I could raise, counting on being a scheduled speaker at monthly missionary services. I looked forward to telling about my target group and receiving support to devote myself to the mission. A few of us discussed how a team of people would surround me to encourage, pray, and help me with building a network and a speaking schedule. That whole plan didn’t fall through — it crumbled, slowly and agonizingly… Memories of school fundraiser failures and dishonest televangelists mingled with impossible numeric goals and the already busy life rhythms of those I thought to lean on. It looks like I need to take on all aspects of fundraising, and I just don’t have it in me to treat people like walking wallets.
This is the burden that’s grown to unbearable proportions over the past several weeks. Reminding myself that God is faithful and His resources are unlimited doesn’t effectively counter the idea that I’ve failed too much to imagine continuing forward. It seems time to take on a second job for income, knowing that it will reduce the hours and energy I can give to this ministry. If I’m not in ministry, I’ve wasted the last eight years and the sacrifices of several loved ones. My standing prayer request at the moment is for clarity and against discouragement.
That brings us to the title statement: “Dear Someone, thank you.”
Two weeks ago I visited my friends up north. Not only was it a refreshing encouragement to be with my deaf friends, but they were willing to provide taxi service, lunch, and a love gift of $100 from “Someone.” I decided to put that toward a women’s retreat happening soon in the same area.
Yesterday, I noticed that a local pastor (and friend) intended to speak on John 14, and I could use a little “I’ve gone to prepare a place for you…” right about now. Still exploring church options near my new home, I chose to go there. The radio message was Dr. Paul Nyquist’s “Heirs with Christ,” on being adopted by God. I was warmly greeted by several people at the church and had some discussion with the Lord about perhaps serving with this body, then the pastor gave his message on the Fatherhood of God. His focus was verses 13-14, “ask in My name, and it will be done.” Then, being prompted, he asked the congregation if someone would give $20 to the visiting missionary. I was overwhelmed with more greetings, encouragement, a couple of contacts, a prayer, and a total of $386.
Afterward, I had a text from my friends up north. The cost of the women’s retreat is covered. Another unexpected blessing.
To all the Someones who have given of themselves to pray, encourage, affirm, and provide — especially recently — THANK YOU! I am overwhelmed.