"During my last trip to the USA I was asked “what makes Swiss cheese…Swiss cheese?” said OMer Anja. "For me, the answer isn’t in the holes."
"After countless nights of sharing my story with complete strangers during street evangelism – and even after sharing with my family the worst parts of my past – I found myself completely frozen last week in front of a friend who asked the seemingly simple question: 'so, what’s your story?'"
"Growing up, my dad used to share an analogy about the bags we pack in life," explained OMer Renette. "He said parents pack ‘life bags’ for their children, filling each bag with traditions, beliefs, perspectives and stories. The child repacks his/her bag as they interact with the world and have new experiences." What's in your life bag?
"I had no intention of being here in France working with short-term outreaches," remembered OMer Paul. "I grew up in West Africa, the son of a missionary, and returned to England when I was seven years old. Although I had (and still have) great respect for my parents, theirs was not the life I wanted for myself. At the age of 14 I decided I wanted to be a teacher, so that’s what I did. Paul, French teacher extraordinaire! That lasted all of two years before I decided I’d had enough of that!"
Sometimes it seems like much of my time is spent with the not-so-great parts of all that needs to get done," said OMer Anja. "Sometimes, or rather all too often, I lose sight. And when I lose sight, I wonder if I am the only one who feels this way. In those times, it is always the best choice to turn to God because He puts everything into perspective. His Word gives new sight because the Bible doesn’t just tell hero stories but portrays real humans, along with all their dirt.
"As an occupational therapist I do rehab and work with the families as best as I can, but as a foreign missionary working with poorer families I often have many more resources at my disposal than the locals do," shared OMer Beth. "Should I be giving money or the specialized equipment that the families often need? When does helping hurt those I’m working with? When does giving cause dependency on foreign resources and take away the pride and self-satisfaction of hard work of those who are on the receiving end?"
"I believe the take-away from this is the truth that, when we create art, walking in the light of the presence of God, we have no way to control, predict, or even imagine what He will do through our art," shared OMer Chuck. "In fact, this truth applies to everything we say and do, but artistic expression seems to magnify this effect."
Distance amplifies normal relationship struggles and areas of friction like differing expectations, miscommunications, scheduling challenges, balancing work/life, etc. Add the unpredictable, unique challenge of full-time ministry and missions life, and it’s a high-stress environment in which to nurture a healthy relationship.
The good news is, it’s hard, but not impossible.
OMer Esther describes the feelings of self-doubt that creep in when there is a lack of apparent fruit or times become difficult.
"If God were to give me the choice—be a successful writer or a missionary for the rest of my life—I can’t honestly say which I’d choose," shares OMer Andrew. "Neither one would be sinful; discerning God’s will is not asking yourself, 'What does God want me to do?' but rather, 'How can I use what I’m doing to glorify God?'"
"It had been a big week for us," shared Michelle. "Our older boys had started at the local Portuguese school and the mom in me was taking inventory of all the uncontrollable influences they would be encountering.
Sighing, I heard Jesus whisper in my ear “be willing to be contaminated, as I was contaminated for you.” I looked around the mess I was walking in and began to picture the moment Jesus stood from His throne in heaven and walked out in order to take on the flesh of man. That in itself was a deep contamination for His Majesty. And yet, He did it, joyfully and willingly.