Archive for September, 2009

Good Missionary/Bad Missionary

Truth and Lies

Do you ever wonder if you are being a “good missionary?”  Many times I have experienced a sort of clash going on in my heart. The first player in this battle is the fact that I love God and greatly desire to serve Him and to show His goodness to others.  I know that by His strength He has fully enabled me to do this.  I’ve experienced it! The second player is a quiet but persuasive negative voice that tries to convince me that  I am not making a difference and that somehow I am a “bad missionary.” I think this is a battle that goes on in the minds of all Christian workers and all Christians in general at some point, and I have seen that Satan has even reserved some unique lies specifically for us as mothers.

On days when I am clearly hearing the voice of God in what I do, I know that loving my family, serving my team, and making efforts to be a light to those in the community around me are truly pleasing to God. He gives me assurance that my work as a wife and mother is the most meaningful and influential ministry that I will ever have. He encourages me that the efforts that I put forth to get to know and care for people in our community bring Him glory. He fulfills me as I speak of His  goodness with others, whether they accept Him or even if not. He gives me joy in serving the team that God has surrounded me with as my second family here on the field.

Then there are the times when I feel like the lies are louder than the Truth. I feel like I am “just” a mom and wish that I could “do more,” as if there were more important things than loving my children and leading them toward Christ. I feel discouraged at how long it takes to build relationships with  people in our community and wonder if I am wasting my time, when in reality I should be thankful for these forming friendships and be patient as God grows them. I get upset with myself about how bad my Russian is and wonder how anything that I say could truly be used by God, as if I were the one responsible to change their heart anyway, and as if God were not able to make even rocks cry out to make Himself known. I seek to love and serve my team and others around me, and then I second guess myself and wonder if there would have been something else that would have better met their needs.

Praise God that He doesn’t leave any doubt in our minds about which of these players in this battle are true. Praise God that He tells us exactly who Satan is and how he works:

“He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” – John 8: 44b

I am not sure if you have experienced this battle in your own life recently, but as I process through this myself, I wanted to encourage you for the time that this battle does show up. God does loves us. We can please Him. He does call us to do His will and fully enables us for the task. He does use us as His instruments for righteousness. Doing works to prove ourselves will never please God, but rather being faithful to love Him and to love our neighbors as ourselves is plenty to bring Him glory. We are being sanctified and we are all very much works in progress, and God is ok with this. He is pleased with our growth as we rely on Him, and doesn’t ask us to be or do anything other than what He has ordained for the time.

Clearly we are to examine our hearts and actions to make sure we are following the Lord and relying on His strength alone, but we can so often fall into the trap of listening to lies and trying to do more as if we could ever make ourselves more righteous before God by adding to what He has already done.

Have you experienced this battle in your own heart? What lies do you feel are the easiest for you to succumb to? What has helped you to recognize these lies and counteract them?

(posted by: Ashley)

One Missionary Mom’s Creative Idea to Bless You!

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Heidi from Moms, Ministry, and More has a fabulous idea to help bless and serve other missionaries! She is collecting items from missionaries around the world to raffle off next month in a big event hosted on her blog with the goal raising funds to bless other missionaries who raise their own support.

Support raising is HARD work, as many of you know, and Heidi, who is fully supported by her organization and is not doing this in any way to raise funds for herself, has the heart to come along side other missionaries to bless them.  What a wonderful and incredibly thoughtful and generous ministry!

If you are a missionary who raises their own support and would like to contribute a raffle item from you host country and thus be one of the missionaries supported through this event,  please email Heidi at: stonefox@pobox.com to let her know that you would like to join in! If you do choose to be a part of this event, you will simply pick out an item for the raffle and send a picture of it to Heidi. When the raffle is over, you will mail the item to the winner of your specific item.

Heidi, thank you so much for you kind heart and desire to bless your fellow missionary friends. This is a wonderful ministry!

Growing in Hospitality

(Please welcome Jami’s first post here at Missionary Moms!)

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“Jesus, help me to be a hospitable person”. This was my prayer soon after getting married seven years ago.  I saw other people in my life that really excelled in gifts of hospitality and knew that it was an area I wanted to grow in.  Soon after praying this, our house was jokingly known as the “Gustafson hostel”, as we had overnight guests almost every weekend.  I had many opportunities to practice hospitality.

The opportunities continue now that we live in Siberia.  People often come over to our apartment to do their laundry, wash their clothes, or have a meal.  But here’s the thing.  Hospitality is still not a natural “gift” for me.  I’m an introverted person.  I love time alone.  I love time just as our little family.    I am also a messy person.   I have dreams of a perfect keeping a perfect house, but I would SO much rather play with my daughter or talk with my neighbor over coffee than clean the floors!!

But the more I pray about God bringing the ministry He has for us, the more it has revolved around people coming to us and serving them with a willing and happy heart.  Offer hospitality without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9) is a verse that continually comes into my mind.  Here are some things that I’ve noticed:

  • All I did was pray for God to bring His ministry to us.  And then people began coming.  I didn’t actively DO anything.
  • I used to stress out about fixing the perfect meal or wanting the apartment to look tidy but practice has helped me to be a lot more relaxed!   The way I treat the guest(s) is much more important than that other stuff.
  • As people come into our home, it’s a natural way for our daughter to interact with others and be a part of ministry… in a comfortable way.
  • Bringing people into our home shows an example of a Christian family (something most people here don’t have) and shines God’s light in ways we will probably never know.
  • In this culture, it’s important to plan in “flex time”…  time that’s unplanned so that we’re not too spent to minister to others when they call or want time with us.

In this season of life, I’m thankful for this gift of being able to minister in simple ways- without taking away from the most important ministries of being a wife and a mom!

~Jami

Is hospitality a natural gift that God has blessed you with? If not, how have you seen God grow you in this area? Do you have any ideas that have helped you to “offer hospitality without grumbling?” How have your ministry opportunities as a mother grown through showing hospitality?

Meet The Contributors, part 2

Hello!

I have added a new tab to the top of this page titled “contributors.” It is only about half complete at the moment as some of the new contributors will be joining in later, but I wanted to give you the chance to read a bit more about some of the women who have recently so generously agreed to help post here. Having them here is going to help expand the scope of topics that we can discuss together, as well as will add to the depth of wisdom shared.  As I’ve told you about a million times already, I’m excited! I’ll update the new page periodically as each new contributor joins in. I posted about some of them here in a previous post. Enjoy!

Also, look forward to Jami’s first post within the next couple of days!

~Ashley

It’s finally time!

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Thank you to each of you who have decided to “meet for coffee!”  I am looking forward to sitting down this afternoon during the kids’ nap to get to know each of you better. I hope you have fun reading one another’s  stories and experiences and that you enjoy the chance to connect with wonderful women who, just like you, are raising their families and serving Christ world-wide. Don’t forget to enjoy a nice warm cup full of your favorite coffee or tea while you’re at it! Feel free to respond to one another and of course please pray for each other too!

Also, I am hoping we can do more “community events” like this as we continue to grow our community, so if you have ideas of things that you’d enjoy, please let me know! Kelly who is heading to Uganda already sent me a great one. It’s going to be fun! Thanks everyone!

~Ashley

Your Coffee Time Reminder!

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Just a little over a day left to get ready to join us for coffee! Thank to everyone who has already joined in. Lots of you have been stopping by and checking it out… don’t be shy! Have fun introducing yourself and sharing a bit about your life with us in the comments of the previous post! I look forward to meeting you all soon!

~Ashley

(I’ll post the final “Coffee” post on Thrusday morning my time, which is Wednesday night in the US. That way everyone gets all of Wednesday to join if they want to.)

Let’s Meet For Coffee!

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I am very much looking forward to “meeting you for coffee” this week! Here are some things that I thought would be fun to talk about. Feel free to answer any or all of the questions listed, as well as to ask other questions of one another. You are welcome to share as much or as little as you’d like! The format of this time is as free as if we were sitting face to face at a nice cozy coffee shop with our favorite drink in hand.

Here are the questions:

-Please introduce us a little bit to your family! How many kids do you have? How old are they? How long have you been married?, etc.

-How did God call your family into ministry?  Where are you serving and what is your ministry about? Is ministry something that you’ve always felt God leading you toward, or do you find it surprising that God has you where he does? (And even if you’re not in vocational ministry, if you’re a Christian, you are a missionary, so please share what that looks like in your life!)

-What are some of the greatest joys and blessings in your life and calling right now?

-What are some of the greatest challenges?

-If you are serving overseas, what has it been like to learn to live and serve in another culture? Has it been easier or harder than you expected? What has been an unexpected joy? Has there been anything in particular that has been harder than you would have thought?

-Do you have a funny kid story or cross-cultural/language mishap story to share?

-What is one verse that God has used to encourage you recently and why?

-How can we pray for you today?

-Leave your blog address or email if you’d like! (If you do this, there is a chance that it might not post right away but will await moderation. I will approve it as soon as I am at my computer next.)

Again, don’t get overwhelmed by all of the questions! Just choose the ones you like and enjoy the opportunity to relate with other moms! Be as brief or as long as you’d like!  I hope you enjoy this time and that God blesses each of you through it. DON’T READ ANYONE’S COMMENTS UNTIL AFTER WEDNESDAY!

~Ashley

*(If you are confused as to how we’re going to “meet for coffee,” please check out the previous post!)


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