Archive for the 'ministry' Category

Fitting in While Standing Out

Here are two very popular verses that Christians often talk about when it comes to living as believers in a world where many do not believe.

Paul encourages us to engage in the culture for the sake of the gospel as he says:

“I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”  1 Corinthians 9:22b-23

I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy finding common ground and I like  finding ways to fit in and be accepted.  I like the idea that the gospel is often better received when we can present it in a way that is culturally relevant. I love that it IS relevant to every person and culture! I really enjoy the practical applications of this verse that allow me to learn and engage in a culture and try to become more like those around me for the sake of the gospel.

…But there are also these very important words from Jesus in his prayer for believers in John 17 and other verses like it that speak to another aspect of how we are to live as believers in this world:

“I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.  My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.” – John 17:14-16

This one is much harder for me. Some people find it easy to be bold, are ok with standing out, and are less afraid of other people’s opinions, but I really like fitting in and the idea of being disapproved of or even hated for my beliefs is something that honestly is very difficult for me. God has spoken clearly in His word though, and when we commit ourselves to following Christ, we are accepting the fact that we will be hated for it in one way or another. Of course we don’t aim to be hated, but we should never compromise truth or living in the way that Christ has laid out, merely for the sake of fitting in.

As you live your life for the sake of the gospel, how do these two truths affect you? Do you struggle at all to balance fitting in while standing out? In what ways have you been able to “become all things” in the culture in which you live? Have you experienced being “hated by the world” for your faith in Christ?

(Post by: Ashley)


Motherhood and Ministry: Maintaining Vision

We likely all know the hierarchy of our roles, first as daughters of God, then wives to  our husbands, then mothers of our children, and then as missionaries, but how do we balance all of this in a healthy way? We know our roles, but the hard part is trying to figure it all out in practice. I often feel like the first three roles are way more than enough to fill my plate. I would actually enjoy an extra 2-3 hours a day to feel like I could accomplish all of the things that I’d like in those realms!

Reality is that we have been given 24 hours each day, and aside from our primary 3 callings as daughters of God, wives, and moms, God has also called us to serve Him as missionaries. I  of course am not going to go into any sort of detail here to tell you what your life should look like. With different capacities, different families, different life stages,  different ministries, and different personal callings in general, no one of us can stake claim on “the perfectly balanced missionary mom lifestyle….” and I of all people would never claim to have that mastered.

What I wanted to talk about today though is the importance of maintaining our vision for the work that God has called us to overseas. You don’t need anyone to tell you that living overseas is a sacrifice.  Vision is a large part of the fuel that will keep us going.  As you likely have heard or experienced, it can be quite common for missionary moms to become so consumed by our home lives (and I definitely agree that our home and family are our main focuses), that we lose sight of why God has called us to be where we are in the first place. The danger of becoming exclusively homeward focused is that we start thinking, “Hey, I could do everything that I am doing right now equally as well and much more easily if I were only back ‘home.'” This leads easily to frustration and discontent and burnout. The statement is true on many levels, which is why it is so important for us to stay engaged in our mission and to allow God to remind us through people and experiences why it is that He has called us to give up what we have to be where we are.

Being engaged in ministry will look different for each of you. Some of you may be in the phase of motherhood with little ones at home and therefore might be limited in what you can do outside of the home. Some of you might have grown  or school-aged kids that might allow you to be out more, doing things more independently. I wanted to share a few ideas with you, especially for those whom staying engaged is a struggle, to help you keep your heart focused on and engaged in your calling.

Pray- Above all things, we should be seeking God to confirm in our hearts the calling that He has given us to be serving overseas. Even if we have a more homeward focus in our daily lives, we must also be actively battling in prayer for those that God has called us to reach. It is amazing how vivid our vision can be when we are faithful to pray. Equally as drastic is how fast our vision can fade if we forget to pray for the people, place, and the work that our families are called to.

Build Relationships- I think this is the second most important thing that will keep our hearts engaged in the mission. Make sure you are engaging with the people you are seeking to reach. Build relationships with believers and non-believers alike. Of course this is something we all know, but with a house full of little ones and much to do at home, and depending on the culture, it may take more intentionality than one would expect.

Use your home for ministry- we have talked about this a number of times, but home life and ministry don’t have to be separate! It is a wonderful thing for those we are trying to reach to observe a family who loves God, and it is also a wonderful thing for the whole family, and especially for the kids, to do ministry together.

Schedule ministry time away from home- Work with your spouse to find time when you can be the one out doing ministry. Again, I won’t tell you how often or for how much time, but it can be helpful to know you have some time specifically for you to do ministry apart from other responsibilities.

Utilize holidays- Sometimes it can be stressful to have a ton of regularly scheduled ministry events year-round, but most of us can spare extra time as special opportunities come up. Take a look at the holidays in your culture and see how you can use them in ministry. Plan ahead to make it happen.

Learn and love the culture- One thing that will make you feel more connected to the  ministry is becoming more a part of the culture in which you live. Learn about the values of the people around you. Celebrate the holidays that they do (as long as they are appropriate). Appreciate the art, the natural beauty, the architecture. Enjoy the traditional foods and learn how to make them yourself, etc. The more that we see the beauty that God has woven into the culture that He has created, the more we see His heart and plan for His people.

Write your family newsletter- Simple things like being the one to cast vision through your family newsletter or blog can help you keep fresh in your mind why you are doing what you are doing. That way you are recalling the things that God has done through your ministry and are recalling how God has used your family in His work. It is also great to help cast vision on support raising appointments when back in the US.

Don’t compare yourself- This is important too. I am talking about comparing yourself to other missionary moms in an unhealthy way. We first must seek God and ask Him what He is calling us to personally. It is of course helpful to learn from the moms in ministry around us, but we need to recognize that each of us has been given different circumstances and capacities, and that someone else’s calling, as wonderful as it might be, has not been given to us. We can so easily start comparing ourselves to others and start feeling defeat. This unnecessary feeling of inadequacy too can kill vision.

This list, as long as it is, is far from being exhaustive. Would you please take a minute to share your ideas for keeping our hearts engaged in ministry? What has worked best for you? Are you feeling engaged at the moment, or are can we be praying for your vision today?

(Post by: Ashley)

Ministry at Home

Mom and babies

I have been reading and thinking through a great article posted on Reviving our Hearts, and it is so good and thought provoking that I wanted to share it with you. The post is titled Ministry at Home.

Like this article discusses, it is so easy to define “ministry” as something that happens outside of the home to people outside of our family and to forget that the most significant ministry that we’ve been entrusted with as mothers is right in front of our eyes… or our knee caps!

Of course it is also 100% true that God has called us and fully enabled us to be salt and light to those outside our family as well. By suggesting this article I am not discouraging anyone from doing the “ministry” that you are called to, BUT I do think it is so very necessary for all of us to examine how we are doing at our primary ministry, that being to our family, before we look elsewhere for ministry opportunities. Motherhood is hard, time consuming work and will by necessity demand the bulk of our attention and heart! We need to evaluate and ask God how much He is actually calling us to beyond this great calling that exists in the daily ministry of motherhood. God gives mothers an abundance of opportunities to be salt and light while never neglecting our primary calling, meaning that our  families should never need to be sacrificed for “ministry.”

Two things are true. We are clearly instructed in the word to value and excel at our work as wives and moms, and we are also very clearly instructed to be faithfully holding out the word of life. I think all of us can tend towards focusing on just one or the other of these callings. It is easy to be focused exclusively on our lives at home and to forget to forget to participate in the ministry of reconciliation that we have been entrusted with, or we can become wrongly convinced that what happens in the home is not as significant as the ministry that happens outside of it, and thus neglect our highest calling.  Since many of your families are in ministry or are strong believers, I am assuming that you might battle the temptation to forget the value of your work as moms as you see all of the other ministry opportunities around you. I know that it is a temptation for me if I don’t consciously combat this lie.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic and article! I’ll leave this post up for a few days to give you time to think and respond if you need. Do you ever find yourself believing that “ministry” is something that happens primarily outside of the home? What helps you place a correct value on your role as a wife and mother? Do you wrestle with the opposite challenge of struggling to look outward? Would you like to share your thoughts on finding the right balance?

“…and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure,working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” Titus 2:4-5

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16

(If anyone is looking for more great thoughts on this topic of ministry at home, please check out the post Mothering As Ministry from the Stay-at-Home Missionary blog.  Joy’s blog is absolutely one of my favorites. Her blog actually where I first found the link to the article above. She is a wise woman and all of her posts on motherhood are so encouraging and convicting.)

(Post by: Ashley)

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