Friday 3 July 2020

Seven years on the mission field

This week marks seven years since I stepped off a one-way flight to the Czech Republic. Like so many things in life, it feels both like forever and a blink.

I remember when I'd been here only a couple of years and we had a guest in town from the UK. They shared that research with missionaries has suggested that it takes seven years for second-culture missionaries to be and to feel fully effective in their new contexts. 

When I heard that I felt both reassured and overwhelmed. Reassured because those first couple of years are always hard, as you learn language and culture, along with a new role. But I definitely felt overwhelmed, as I wondered if I'd make it to year three, nevermind year seven.

And, yet, here it is: seven years into this wild, cross-cultural ministry and life.

On my seven-year anniversary I was doing some reading for my upcoming thesis and I came across this sentence:

“[A pastor] discovered that God's plan had as much to do with who he was becoming as it did about what he was accomplishing” (from the book Resilient Ministry)

These words echo words that were spoken to me by Paul Bowman at my commissioning service before I left Northern Ireland that "The most important thing you can do for your students is to love Jesus more."

It's all so true and if I've learnt anything in the last seven years it's that I can buckle down and grit my teeth and get things done, but if it's not flowing out of a deep, abiding relationship with Christ, it's all futile.

And it's all his fruit anyway - we abide in the vine and he produces his fruit in us and through us. We may water or plant, but it's God that gives the growth. He is so faithful and able to do what he has promised. We also see it in the ministry of Jesus, who calls his disciples first to himself and then out in mission. 

I'm so grateful that that is how our God is with us - inviting us first into relationship with him, and then out, with him, into his great, wide mission in the world. 

I am so grateful for his sustaining grace in my life in how he has called me to himself and into his mission. And I'm so grateful for the many people who also follow his call by partnering with this ministry prayerfully and financially.

Let's see what year eight holds! 

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