What Makes a Missionary?

I recently finished reading Rosilind Jukic’s new release The Missional Handbook, a handy guide for those considering a missionary lifestyle and even those simply interested in missions work.  In it, the author addresses a key question that is often misunderstood: what makes someone a missionary?

from Missional Call

 

I remember struggling with this question in my early years of college, when I was searching for God’s plan for my life.      After my years spent as an MK (missionary kid) on the field of Papua New Guinea, I knew the urgent need for career missionaries and I felt a real burden for unreached people groups.  So, of course, I assumed I would be an overseas missionary someday. :)

Oh, how the Lord has a way of changing our best-laid plans!  Once I met my husband, I began to consider a different ministry, that of pastor’s wife.  Even before we married, I wholeheartedly embraced the role of youth leader and helpmeet to my husband, who was a young youth minister.  I found purpose and contentment in this role.

But then our first child came along and I was no longer as free to be involved with my husband’s ministry. Life became busy and more complicated, as it usually does after children. :)  Suddenly, the role I thought I was meant for had to be put aside while I focused on raising our son.  I began to feel like a bit of a failure since I wasn’t “serving the Lord” in the way I thought I should be, one of many undesired sacrifices I offered up in my attempt to earn the approval He freely gives!

Fast forward a year or two and we decided to take an extended break from full-time ministry.  We had marital issues that needed tending to, as well as wounds from the past we both needed to deal with.  It was a difficult time for both of us as we often felt like failures.  We questioned God’s path for us, for our future.

It took me a few years, but slowly I began to learn the truth that Rosilind Jukic shares in The Missional Handbook – we can and should minister right where we are! We should all be involved in missionary work, whether it be in our homes, on our streets, in our churches, or overseas.  Eventually, I began to see that mothering itself is a ministry, a mission field of sorts – we should be missionaries first in our own homes to the young minds we have been entrusted with!

from Missional Call

So, if you are ever tempted to think, I’m just a mom – what can I possibly do?, recognize that as the voice of the Great Deceiver.  He likes us to believe that ministry work only “counts” if titles and positions like missionary or pastor are involved.  He likes to make investing in others more about us and  less about Christ.  He wants us apathetic and discouraged and feeling like failures.  Because then we are paralyzed to do the work God has set before us.

If you desire to reach others with the Good News, begin right where you are!

Ask the Lord to show you those He has put in your path.  Ask Him to bring you someone to mentor or disciple (and then be ready for a possibly surprising answer!).  Or perhaps you are mother to young children?  Begin right there in your home. Be intentional about teaching your children biblical truth (don’t just leave it to the church).  Be intentional about teaching them the importance of missions, too!

It’s never too late to start being a missionary.

In fact, you probably already are one whether you realize it or not. :)

For more information on modern missions work, be sure to check out Rosilind’s new book, The Missional Handbook    (buy before Wednesday when the sale ends!)

The Missional Handbook available now!

In this book, you’ll find first-hand experiences of missionaries entering overseas fields and tips for potential missionaries.  You’ll also find Jukic’s  unique ideas on how missions work needs to be modernized to be more effective, and practical ways that readers can become more missions-minded right in their own countries.  I especially enjoyed her section on “uncommon” missionaries, the question and answer section, and the personal accounts she includes in the bonus section of her book.  You’ll even find a short story from me and one from another MK!

So, be a missionary every da-ay! (Anyone else know that song??)

Jen :)

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy our Much Ado About Missions series – practical resources and methods for teaching children the importance of reaching the unreached.

I may be sharing this with any of these lovely blogs and here:

A Little R &R, Missional Call, Cornerstone Confessions, A Mama’s Story, My Joy-filled Life,

Finding Heaven Today, Wholehearted Home

 

 

Great Expectations and Buttkill Falls

Hello, faithful readers!  Some of you know that I was on vacation with my family last week.  We spent the week unplugged.  I wanted to jump right back in on Monday, but vacation didn’t go exactly as planned…

Buttkill Falls

In a cosmic meeting of great expectations and unplanned frustrations and discouragements, vacation became a lot more work than we all intended and culminated in what could have well been the deciding event at Buttkill Falls.  The rest of the world knows this picaresque waterfall by it’s real name, Bushkill Falls, but in our family, it will forever be referred to as Buttkill Falls because it broke my behind. Literally.  But that’s really the end of the story (no pun intended), so let’s go back to the beginning!

Three years ago, we went our first family vacation, not just your typical family getaway, but an extended family vacation consisting of our family, my parents, my brother and his family, and my sister and her family.  The adults enjoyed a lot of together time while the little cousins played.  It was wonderful!  While that trip was not without its own frustrations, we enjoyed ourselves so much that we decided to make it a new family tradition that should take place every other year.

For those who don’t know much about my family, this vacation is important to us.  Because my parents were missionaries in PNG (Papua New Guinea), we spent a lot of years separated in various ways, sometimes even in different countries.  Today, we are separated into three different states.  So, like many families who have moved apart from each other, finding together time is difficult, even during the holidays.  And I think at least for me (since I can only speak for myself), those years spent apart overseas make that together time so much more significant and needed.  So, family vacation was the perfect solution!  What could be better than a whole week together?!

For many reasons, planning this second family vacation became a lot more complicated from the beginning.  In fact, we didn’t even get to go the year that we had originally planned.  Instead, we waited another year, and faced even more hurdles.  So by the time we worked through the hurdles and had firm plans in place, we were all anxious to actually get there. Expectations were at an all-time high.

Unfortunately, the discouragement began even before we left!  We experienced unexpected financial issues and so did some other family members.  The second house being rented by my sister’s family was flooded the week prior to our departure, and they were left with no place to go to.  In addition, One of my nieces started throwing up the night before they planned to leave.  The opposition we faced was unreal!  In fact, I have no doubt that the Enemy was at work even before we left, trying to suck the joy out of our much anticipated family vacation before it ever started.

But, in my father’s words, my mother is an eternal optimist, and thankfully some of us inherited this characteristic from her. :)  So, we prayed, and prayed, and my sister’s family actually left by faith before final arrangements were even made for their rental home!

So many things went wrong that week: the rental homes were not what we were expecting (in fact, one had to be changed due to mildew and other general grossness), couples argued, family members failed to communicate, and the weather forecast predicted rain. all. week. long.  Have you ever spent a week in a crowded home with 11 children, all but one under the age of 8?  It wasn’t looking good for a week of peace that we so desperately needed.

But as I mentioned before, many of us are optimists and even those who aren’t optimists are at least believers in the God of the impossible.  So, we forged ahead with vacation plans.  There was a family church service on Sunday, followed by game time, and a beach day on Monday, and Guys golf followed by Gals shopping on Tuesday.

Beach

On Wednesday, it rained all the way to Buttkill Falls.  But we were determined. Besides, what else would we do in a crowded cabin with a pack of wild children? :)  The nice lady who charged us the outrageous admission price (yes, we outdoor lovers PAID to hike!) warned us that the trails would be slippery.  And to make a long story short, after misunderstandings and whiny, sometimes even disobedient kids and lots and lots of stairs, it happened. I warned my mother about a particularly slippery set of wooden steps, turned to go down the next one, and fell down three steps directly on my tailbone.

I couldn’t catch my breath at first, and then when the air came, so did the tears.  My arm was already bruising from the fall and my rear hurt terribly.  I assumed it would go away after a while, and it did go numb for a bit, so we finished the hike.  But not without another spousal argument and multiple instances of child disobedience.  The one redeeming aspect of Buttkill Falls was the awesome playground that we used to wear the kids out before hopping back in the van for a painful, hour-long drive back to the cabin.

Buttkill falls2

Needless to say, the rest of the vacation wasn’t exactly what I had envisioned.  There was a day spent getting x-rayed and medicated, followed by a day in bed while the others enjoyed a train ride (or train wreck, as my brother-in-law liked to call it), followed by a long drive to a huge boulder field that I couldn’t walk on (but at least I got to see!).  And then there was the day of the ten hour drive home and the donut pillow that failed to do its job.

It felt like one of those annoying movies where everything that can go wrong, does, and the characters never catch a break! :)

In spite of my unmet great expectations, I can honestly say I would choose to do it again.  Why, you ask?  Because in between the arguing, the parenting issues, the broken bones, the frequent disappointments, and the many other challenges that came our way that week, we had moments, family moments of joy, of togetherness, of teasing, of laughter, of memory sharing, and of memory making.

And we all enjoyed an entire night of rear-end jokes around the game table. :) (Better to laugh than to cry, right?!)

I wouldn’t trade those moments for the world, or even a healed tailbone,  because who knows if we’ll see another family vacation?  Who knows if we’ll have another year, another week, another day?

In our humanity, we love to make these perfect plans; we have these great expectations for life, for people, for jobs.  So often, they fall short, and we’re tempted to let ourselves become discouraged.  We’re tempted to lose heart. We’re tempted to see the negative, the bad, even the evil, everywhere we turn.

But our God is bigger, our God is stronger,

Our God is higher than any other…

And He holds us in the palm of His hand.

Isaiah 55:8-9

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

His plans are not our plans.

I still don’t know why I needed to break my tailbone in the middle of family vacation or why family vacation had to feel like  work instead of pleasure so often, but He does.

I pray that the more I grow in the confidence of His grace, the more my great expectations will be His great plans.

And in the meantime, I choose to look for the good.

Even if it means surviving more Buttkill Falls incidents. :)

Jen :)

When have your great expectations ended in disappointment?  What brought you joy in spite of your failed plans?

“Stori” PNG-style

It’s that time of week again – Five Minute Friday.  Lisa-Jo Baker gives us a one-word prompt and we write for five minutes without pressure, just for the joy of writing.  Why don’t you join us here?

This week’s word is Story.

Image

Some words are like smells. They evoke memories from times past, some with smiles, some with sadness, and some a bittersweet mixture of the two.

Story is one such word for me.  It takes me back to that half-island home of Papua New Guinea (PNG), back to our bush house of woven bamboo up on stilts on the side of a clay mountain.  Nights of rain on a tin roof lulling us to sleep.  Chilly mornings of woodsmoke and toast made in the woodstove.  Because the word story is “stori” in tok pisin, the pidgin trade language of PNG.

But in tok pisin, the word stori carries with it various nuances.  It can mean a simple story, but it can also be used in the vernacular as somewhat of a verb (in my limited understanding).  You can stori with another person, communicate with them, swap information through the act of story-telling. So to my MK self, stori means more than just a tale; it’s sharing verbally with someone else either for the purpose of making friends or for the purpose of learning.

And I think I rather like the word stori better than our English word because that’s what stories are truly for.  They don’t exist merely for entertainment, although many are entertaining, but they exist for a purpose, to teach us something, to impart some new truth, to open our eyes to a new understanding.

So, I would rather stori with someone than story at them.  I don’t want my words to be things I just throw out there willy-nilly.  I want them to serve a purpose.

I’ve always been in love with words, with stories, with learning new truth.  And now, as a new blogger, I’m learning to be in love with stori, with sharing not just for the sake of sharing or telling for the sake of telling, but for the purpose of learning.

About others.

About self.

Even about the greatest Story-teller ever.

His story. My story. Together they become part of my stori with others.

Yes, I like this stori.

Jen :)

Similar posts:
http://ourwrightingpad.blogspot.com/2013/08/five-minute-friday-story.html

Much Ado about Missions: The Experience

Much Ado about Missions

Today marks the beginning of week two of our Much Ado about Missions blog-hop series.  In case you’re joining us for the first time, in the first week we zeroed in on the need for emphasizing global missions and how we can accomplish that even within our homes.  I shared an introductory post about why the need is so great (and so often misunderstood) and then followed up with a post on 8 Resources for Teaching Missions in the Home.  Sarah, from Love Notes, wrote an excellent post on how to engage children’s hearts by engaging their hands in The Missional M&Ms.  Angie, from My Four Monkeys, finished off the week with a fantastic craft to introduce the concept of missions in Introducing Missions to Little Ones.  If you missed any of these posts. you might want to catch up before we delve into this week’s topic. :)

While we discussed impacting our homes in week one, this week we’ll be discussing how to impact our communities and even our world.  So, week two will be more about missions experience opportunities and outreach opportunities for you and your family no matter what your circumstances!

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that my husband is a minister in a small country town.  So, by nature of his job, our family experiences a lot of community outreach through our church and even aside from the church.   However, we also want our family to be involved in things that have an impact beyond our community.  We want to be mindful of the needs in that great big world out there and have the Lord’s heart for the nations.  I listened to a sermon recently given by a missionary who said that he drove a single mile  to the church he was speaking at that morning and passed 3 churches on the way! Yet in an unreached people group in China that is 15 million strong, not a single church exists. Not. One.

So, I’m going to start out the week by challenging you to leave the comfort of your own home, your own city, your own state and try something as a family that could potentially change many lives.  My husband and I want our children to understand the importance of global missions as much as they understand community service and outreach, and that requires us to stretch beyond what is comfortable.   Experiencing firsthand is so much more powerful than just hearing about it from missionaries who come to speak at church or your former MK wife/mother. :) So, we’ve put together a very brief list of experiences that could benefit the whole family.

the missions experience

Church missions trips – If your church is offering a missions trip experience, this would be the perfect way for you, and possibly your family, to experience and serve alongside a missionary that your church is already connected with.  While  heading into unfamiliar territory, you would at least have the comfort of travelling and experiencing right alongside other members of your church.  This type of trip helps you to better understand the need as well as the missionaries you help support.

Wayumi – if  leaving your home country to serve in a remote location scares the pants off of you, or just isn’t possible for medical reasons, etc., why not start with a missions experiences available right here in America through New Tribes Mission?  You can spend anywhere from 1 day to a week at Wayumi, a center located in Pennsylvania, and be exposed to other cultures, the trials of language study, and so forth.  Although the experience offers very realistic replications of tribal huts, tribal foods, and so on, some modern conveniences are still available.  It’s a way to learn about missions and perhaps even stretch yourself and your family a bit, but the cost is significantly less than an overseas trip.

Serve with New Tribes Mission (NTM) – http://usa.ntm.org/go – this non-denominational mission that focuses on church planting along with scripture translation offerst a variety of opportunties for families and even college students.  Short term, service-based trips last anywhere from 2-4 weeks, while longer stays of a year are necessary for associate workers who go to fill an immediate need.  College students can even earn credits through the Interface internship program in Papua New Guinea.

World Changershttp://www.lifeway.com/worldchangers/index.php/about/ – is a program for youth through college age students.  These trips usually take place in the summer months, when groups travel to specific cities to complete community service projects.  In the past, some groups have gone to inner city ministries, disaster areas for restoration projects, etc.  This is not your everyday community service.  Students complete bible study/training beforehand, including learning how to use evangelistic tools.  If you have or know a youth, this program is an excellent way to teach them how to be someone who changes the world!

These are just a very few of the multitude of opportunities to serve your world beyond your neighborhood, your town, your state, even your country!  What can your family do to stretch and grow beyond what is normal and familiar to you?  How might you consider helping to reach the most unreached peoples of the Earth, the third of our world  population who currently have no hope?

I know that God asks believers to fill a variety of roles in the Body, of which missions is only one.  But I also know that God’s heart is for all nations, not just the one we live in.  I read another missionary comment recently that said what is most needed is not more money.  He reminded us, “Jesus is the fishes and loaves guy.”  What is needed is those who will be willing to advocate for the most unreached people groups and those who will be willing to answer the call of “Whom can I send?”

Deny self

As I mentioned in the Introduction of this blog-hop, I don’t have all of the answers, even for our family.  I believe it is something that all Christians should prayerfully consider. How will you respond?

Jen :)

If you know of another firsthand missions experience opportunity, please feel free to share with the readers in the comments!

Want to learn more about the value of a firsthand missions experience for teens?  Read here:
http://www.wordslingersok.com/2013/07/7-reasons-teens-need-to-go-on-short-term-mission-trips-2/

You may find me at any of these lovely blogs.

Much Ado about Missions Series

Since I spent the majority of my growing up years as an MK (missionary kid), global missions is a subject close to my heart.

But lately, I’ve been plagued by questions of Am I doing enough? and What else can I do?

So what’s the big deal about global missions anyway?  We’re all called to be missionaries where we live, right?  Yes, we should be sharing the gospel in our homes, with our neighbors and co-workers, and so forth as is commanded in scripture.

The big deal about global missions is that nearly one-third of the world’s total population remains unreached, meaning these people have had little to no opportunity to hear the message of salvation!  These people groups often live in fear of evil spirits or gods and sometimes even participate in horrors like witch-burnings and ritual killings out of those fears.  Some are trapped by societal boundaries of caste systems or governmental boundaries such as communism.

Why is global missions so crucial? And what can we do to further the spread of the gospel to unreached people groups? We can start right in our own homes! Join us for a series on teaching missions at home for parents, teachers, children's ministers, sunday school teachers, etc.

While we here in America are blessed to find churches on many street corners and  bibles not only in our own language, but also in a plethora of translations, our overseas friends are not.

Even driving down the highway, we often see crosses or billboards proclaiming God’s truth.  And with the rise of the Internet, the possibilities are further increased!  Those unsaved relatives, friends, and neighbors might not know Jesus personally, but most of them at least know of Him.

Why is global missions so crucial? And what can we do to further the spread of the gospel to unreached people groups? We can start right in our own homes! Source of info: The Joshua Project

But for a tribal man, woman, or child in an unreached location, the gospel message is simply not present. By some estimates, the ratio of American churches to unreached people groups  is 140:1.

One hundred forty American churches for every one group of people still waiting to hear the Good News! Are you as surprised by that number as I am?

As a minister’s wife, I know the unsaved are with us here too, but the need for these unreached people groups is even more urgent yet often more easily ignored.

They have no neighbors who believe, no Bibles to read, no billboards, no Internet, no gospel tracts, no revivals, no churches, no outreach ministries… nothing to connect them with life-giving Good News!

We have a responsibility as Christ-followers  to reach out to the unsaved on all levels – within our families, our local communities, our countries, and yes, even our world! Let’s not forget our overseas brothers and sisters who are without hope.

Why is global missions so crucial? And what can we do to further the spread of the gospel to unreached people groups? We can start right in our own homes!

We must be involved with global missions in some way (even if we can’t physically go ourselves), and we must teach our children the importance of reaching the unreached, whether they live nearby or  halfway around the world. Not to be “good” Christians or to pat ourselves on the back but because…

People.

 are.

 dying.  

without ever having even a single opportunity to hear of the Father’s great love for us, without a chance to experience true freedom.

Please take a moment to view this powerful message from the Joshua Project. I promise it will be worth your time! Be sure to watch it to the very end – the last few seconds are important.

You Should Know (English) Video by MUP.ORG from Mustang International on Vimeo.

So, what can we do?  We may not all be able to go at this point in time, so how can we reach out beyond what is comfortable to us? How can we foster a missions mindset in our homes?  I’ll be honest with you that I struggle with these questions.   What exactly does the Lord require of me and our family in regards to missions?

I don’t have all of the answers, even for myself.  My husband is a pastor and much of our “missions” work occurs right here in our neighborhood, but I am convinced that I must not forget that there is a world of dying, unreached people out there, as well.

I hope this bloghop series will answer at the least a few of those questions for us and for you, our readers.

Why is global missions so crucial? And what can we do to further the spread of the gospel to unreached people groups? We can start right in our own homes!

In addition to my own posts, I’m very blessed to have two other bloggers join me in this missions series, as we attempt to answer some of these questions.

           My sister Sarah, from Love Notes,  not only grew up on the mission field, she also elected to return to PNG  (Papua New Guinea) for a while during her single years.  Currently, she and her minister husband serve at a church in Ohio, as well as at the local city mission.

     My blog-savvy cousin Angie, from My Four Monkeys, is a homeschooling mama of four.  Angie writes all over the web for companies like Tommy Nelson and Alex Toys, as well as on her own blog.  She also serves faithfully in her local church, alongside her husband.

We are excited to share with you some amazing materials and methods for teaching missions in your home or in your church, as well as ways to experience missions as a family, and even ways to pray specifically for the most unreached people groups of the world.

The first post, 8 Resources for Teaching Missions in the Home, is live now!

Jen :)

For more statistics on why the need is so great, read here:

http://writtenreality.com/209-million-is-a-very-big-number/

http://weheartnepal.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/life-in-the-fll-why-we-do-what-we-do-part-2/

Five Minute Friday: View

Today I’m trying something new!  Another blogger has challenged us to participate in Five Minute Fridays – we’ll spend only 5 minutes writing on a word prompt that she gives us.  No editing, no grammar checking, no revising.  Just creativity. So, here goes!

 

View

 

I once lived in a land with breath-taking views.  Papua New Guinea, with bright tropical foliage filling the valleys, and the valleys ringed by tall mountains with a beauty of their own.  Our tribal home sat perched on the side of one of these mountains, up on stilts with our hammocks hanging beneath.

 

PNG house

 

I loved to sit in my hammock and look out at the blue sky that seemed so much brighter at that elevation and across to the mountain range on the other side of the valley below.  Some mornings, thick, white clouds filled the valley as if a blanket of white cotton was laid out for us.  So much beauty from the hand of our Creator!

hammocks under png house

 

Today the views that grace my landscape are not quite so spectacular.  Our small town has its own form of quaint beauty, and the surrounding corn and soybean fields have theirs.  Still, I miss New Guinea and the way in which the physical beauty of our mountain home brought me closer to my Creator.  It was as if His presence was always evidenced before me, less easy to ignore.

 

But my Creator is so quick to remind me that my view has so much to do with perspective.  I may no longer be surrounded by majestic mountains, wild-growing poinsettia trees, and grass-topped huts scattered among the dense green bush, but I’m surrounded by beautiful people.  The man in my life who is quick to help anyone in need.  The four-year-old twins who frolic together in the backyard.  The seven-year-old with the impish grin on his face, no doubt planning some new mischief.  The thirteen year old with his gentle smile and willing spirit.

 

me and kids

 

Yes, my view is good.

Jen :)