Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Shadows and Light

“Dear God, I cannot love Thee the way I want to. You are the slim crescent of a moon that I see and my self is the earth’s shadow that keeps me from seeing all the moon…what I am afraid of, dear God, is that my self shadow will grow so large that it blocks the whole moon, and that I will judge myself by the shadow that is nothing. I do not know You God because I am in the Way.”-
Flannery O’Connor

I came across this quote recently while reading Prayerby Timothy Keller. It made me think of small children clamoring to see a show-a-tell, all the while blocking each other’s view in an attempt to get the best view. Eventually, all the children climb on top on one another, closer and closer to that which they want to see, but all the while, blocking their view further and further until the object is covered from view by small, sticky hands and even larger heads on small bodies. How often, in our attempts to get closer to the Lord, do ours faults and the faults of those around us get bigger and bigger and our focus is lost. We can only see the shadow. Worse yet, we block the view for those around us, and all they are left to see are our unattractive derrières! 

While my time at home was filled with family, friends, travel, work and rest, it has been a time of stepping back from the shadow of myself in order to better see the light of Christ as He works, not only around the world, but in me. As missionaries, we always want to make sure we are focused on those around us. Missions isn’t about what I can get out of it, or how I can look good, or maximizing my own experience. We try to emphasize this with short-termers as well as ourselves as we all can fall prey to the wrong things when we come to a place to serve. 

While these things are true, they only paint a partial picture. Missionaries do not come to the filed sanctified! (shocking, I know!) If we believe that the Lord’s focus is merely the people groups around us, and somehow not equally on ourselves, we miss the beauty of who Christ is and who we are as His children. If we believe that Christ died so that we can be partially sanctified, or be made “good enough” for missionary service then left alone, we don’t understand his Love for us or His holiness. “It’s not about me” is a correct view of our missions work because “it’s all about Him”. It’s about His redemptive relationship with His church, which is us. But this isn’t some distant “church” idea, where we can only be thought of as a whole. The Lord’s power and wisdom is able to sanctify His church as a whole, while working in each of us as individuals. If we believe that He loves us, it can only be this way. We cannot wish for a calm life or one without suffering or pain or conflict, for “His power is made perfect in our weakness” and “after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

No one on our team would have sought out the experiences we had as a team or as individuals during these first few years on the field. But I have no doubt that the Lord has done a sanctifying work in each of us and will continue to do so, while continuing to establish and expand His church throughout our community.

Being far from Togo has allowed me to watch what the Lord does without me!  These things are constant reminders that all things depend on Him alone!

-42 people were baptized from our Faré village group and several others from our house groups scattered around Mango
-A new full-time doctor and family have moved to the field (Dr. Steve and Lisa Wreeseman)
-A new full-time MK teacher, Megan McKenzie, has arrived on the field
-Our Post-Resident, Christine Bies, faithfully completed her 2 years of work and ministry through Samaritans Purse. Pray for her as she re-enters US life and seeks out what they Lord may have for her in the future. Pray that the ministry she had here continues through the Holy-Spirit continuing to water the seeds she planted here. 
-A new Med/Peds Post-Resident, Ben Randel, arrived on the field to begin 2 years with us
-HOPE RADIO has finished construction on the station and started broadcasting

I want to highlight another project that began while I was still in Togo and has continued to grow and still needs YOUR help! Our hospital has the privilege of having a Fulani couple who serve as chaplains at HOH. This faithful couple had a ministry in Burkina Faso and were sent as missionaries to us, in order to reach their fellow Fulani people here in Togo. We have partnered with FULNET (Fulani Ministries in Burkina) to launch a Fulani Center in Mango that may serve the many nomadic Fulani who come

Lastly, I am on my way to Bangladesh to serve with Samartans Purse at their clinic in the Rohingya refugee camp. Please “google” Rohingya news” and learn more about what is happening and how you can pray. I will be there until August 23rdbefore I come home and spend a couple weeks with family before returning to Togo around September 2nd

Thank you for your continued prayers, even during long months of blog silence. I appreciate that I was able to see many of you during my time at home and hope I can see a few more of you before I head back to Togo. I pray often for the day we can spend eternity together before the throne.