Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Reluctant Missionary

Lately I have been skimming through a book that was given to me by a pastor's wife back in the US during a mission conference--To Cross the Widest Ocean by Becky Martin. It has a lot of practical advice for missionary wives, written by a woman who has lived in the Philippines for over 30 years with her husband. When I find myself complaining in my heart about things, I take it and read what other women have gone through on the mission field and it makes me feel encouraged to know that other missionary wives have felt the same way as me. It also makes me feel like a crumb--when I consider all the hardships others have faced without seemingly a word of complaint.

One of the chapters deals with your attitude, and how important it is with everything you do in life. She referred to a passage from a book about "the reluctant missionary," which I have yet to find on the internet, but think it would be a good one for me to read. We all know the famous story about Jonah being a reluctant missionary, and how he did not want to go to Nineveh and preach. Sometimes I feel like that too.

When my husband was called to the Canary Islands, the Lord had to do a work in my heart preparing me to return to the mission field. We had served in Mexico in the early years of our marriage, and learned a great deal about ourselves and I had pretty much decided that I would not want to go on deputation again.

Fast forward about seven years, and through a series of events my husband became a full time chaplain with a gospel preaching ministry, which meant moving from my family in Ohio to Rochester NY, but a move I was willing to make because God had prepared my heart. I knew this was what my husband was called to do, and even though part of my husband's job would be fundraising for the ministry, it would be done locally and we wouldn't have to travel all over the US. It also had a starting salary, so we wouldn't be starting from scratch, and had health benefits, which was also a blessing.

I was comfortable--the jail ministry wasn't too demanding on my part-- my husband enjoyed his work, and all was well. We had become involved in a good church, and my children were growing spiritually. Then after five years, the Lord began dealing with my husband about returning to foreign missions. I knew deep down in my heart that perhaps this would happen, but wasn't really excited about selling our home, giving up a good salary, leaving our church family, and starting over.

Little by little the Lord began chiseling away at my heart. At first I was opposed to letting go of everything, starting over, and taking the leap of faith from the secure world of the ministry my husband was in, to giving all that up and having no guaranteed income--and I think that is what held me back the most, the financial aspect.

Once I realised that there would be no peace in my heart until I gave in, I surrendered, and held up the white flag so to speak. I was amazed at how the Lord worked everything out, and provided for us in ways we could never imagine. One of the first few months after Doug left the jail ministry, a lady we never even met that lived in our neighborhood sent us a $1000 check! The Lord knew just what we needed. Everything that I was afraid of never happened.

I wish I could say that I was excited from the very start, and that I always encouraged my husband to follow what God was leading him to do without doubting, but I can't. I can say that the Lord is faithful, and will do the work in our hearts if we let Him.


Jamie Parfitt said...

You sure are open and honest about your feelings, Carolee. That takes great courage. Thanks for letting us know your real feelings. We will keep praying for fruit as you have sacrificed so much. It's funny, many of us would LOVE to live on a "tropical" island, we think. :-)

Carolee's Corner Canary Islands said...

Thanks Jamie. I always have tried to paint a realistic picture of the mission field so people don't come thinking it will be something that it isn't, and when I would be around other missionary wives I longed to find women who could be open and honest about their feelings, because it would encourage me to know that others sometimes struggle with the same things.

the reynolds said...

I too am refreshed by your openness and honesty. We are to bear one anothers burdens and really understanding what life is like for you helps me, and helps me to pray more effectively.
I just got to talk to Dawn Snyder last night!! Seems so funny to carry on (a quite lengthy) conversation with a best friend on the other side of the world, while it seemed she was just down the road! Thank God for technology - it does make the world a smaller place! Praying for you Carolee....Oh - I got to meet your adorable grandchildren!

Jillian and Emmaline Snyder said...

Thanks, Carolee, for your honesty. Sometimes I get so frustrated with things and feel like a heel because life here is a breeze compared to a 3rd world country, but when you run out of clean clothes because it rains for a month and it takes two days to dry clothes hung all around the house it does get frustrating. But then I feel so thankful that God has aloud us to come to NZ, I won't want to go back to the states! Dawn