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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Is It Worth It?

During our time back in the States, one question came up probably more than any other when discussing our long-term calling to the mission field:  "Is it worth it?"  This blog post is my long-winded response to that question.

The short answer:

When we see someone who formerly never even heard the name of Jesus, or had the slightest inkling what the cross they see Christians wearing means, come to Christ, it definitely makes everything else worth it.

The long answer:

Honestly if the mission board we are with told us tomorrow that they couldn't fund us any longer and we had to leave, we would just trust God to provide and find another way to stay.  Friends and family have asked "How long are you going to stay in [East Asia]" and I just wrinkle my brow because either they don't understand what a calling is, or I don't completely understand the question.  We are here as long as God lets us stay here, but if He calls us elsewhere, we will go.  I pray He doesn't call us to the Middle East, or to North Africa, but if He did, I would go and trust Him to give me the same heart for Muslims that He has given me for the [East Asian Peoples].

Friends always ask about what we gave up, leaving a six-figure career and selling everything we owned to move to the other side of the planet, but sitting here right now I don't feel like I gave up anything.  I feel like we shed ourselves of the shackles of a mortgage, car and insurance payments, a job serving mostly ungrateful and unsatisfied clients, and all the other things that "owned" us. (We really don't own our house, cars, etc, they own us, and we have to continue to work in order to make sacrifices to appease these gods every month while they give us the "illusion" that we actually own them).  When we sold the house, all the furniture, and everything we owned except what fit in a few suitcases, it was the most freeing feeling I have ever had in my life.

In exchange, God has given us the chance to walk on one of the seven wonders of the world, to play with live tigers, to zipline through the jungles of [East Asia], to see natural wonders that weren't even in the best textbooks I ever studied.  But much more important than those worldly pleasures has been the chance to start ministry from scratch.  To leave behind all the traditions of men and teach brand new disciples how to follow the Bible, not tradition.  To see disciples we have made making new disciples.  To see people passing from death into life through faith in Christ. To see groups of believers forming a church, sharing the gospel, and baptizing and discipling new believers.  That is what it is all about.  Even though I was very active in ministry as an ordained minister in the States, it was never anything like this.  I can't imagine all the treasures in the world amounting to a greater treasure than God has provided us with this life.

If it means living on peanuts and sacrificing a lot of personal freedoms that my former job as an executive afforded, it is worth it.  If it means giving up western comforts, climate, and familiar things, it is worth it.  If it means physical separation from friends and family back home, and only getting to see them briefly every few years, it is worth it.  And if, due to our service in a closed country, it means that my family were to be arrested, imprisoned, and possibly even killed for the opportunity to bring even one more person to Christ, it is worth it.