God's Brave Women - A Missionary's Story
If you had asked me in 2009, when I was single and teaching pre-school, where I saw myself in 10 years, the answer would NOT have been “in North Africa.”
And then there’s God.
I have been living overseas almost two years, attempting to learn three different languages (each in part; none fluently!) and, I have to say, I never saw this coming. And I don’t think anyone else who knows me did either! I have always been the close-to-home/ in-my-comfort-zone type. But when I first met my future husband I knew God was changing my life. This man knew that he wanted to serve Christ through missions in an African or Asian country. The Lord eventually led us to be married and start a family and later directed us to this 99% Muslim nation.
So, here we are in 2019... I am no longer close to home. And in this new life and location I rarely feel that I have a comfort zone. What I see, feel, do, smell, appear like, dress like, and often talk like are totally unfamiliar and (often) uncomfortable. When asked to write for this BRAVE series I hesitated internally because I do not feel very brave! What I have embraced is so different– after almost two years, I still struggle.
I definitely needed courage at first in attempting the unknown. I left “the known” behind – and included in that is “the loved.” Parents, siblings, relatives, brothers and sisters in Christ, dear friends, sweet smiles, familiar hugs, laughs, inside jokes, treasured relationships. And don’t even get me started on nieces and nephews… for this heart who loves the littles that’s where the tears REALLY kick in.
To be honest, after all this time, I still need bravery. Like, huge, grace-given bravery to each day face the heartache of being separated from all my loves. I have learned that I must let myself simultaneously feel the ache while embracing the new reality. It cannot be avoided. I know that Jesus Himself did not avoid this when He came to earth and was separated from His Heavenly Father and Home. Yet, I’m learning that it’s not just more courage that I need…
"I have learned that I must let myself simultaneously feel the ache while embracing the new reality. It cannot be avoided."
As the struggles and difficulties continue, I see now how the need for bravery has actually evolved, which makes sense because my normal has evolved. The stressors of life now include language learning (frequent confusion!), increased and harder tasks, parenting and medical care in a less developed country, cultural learning and blunders, less support and more frustration. To be in this place has, in fact, required sacrifice and perseverance, which seems to be what people focus on when I share my experiences. “Strong” or “courageous” are words they might use. But I would suggest that, in my story, bravery has over time come to show itself in the facets of WILLINGNESS and OBEDIENCE.
"To be in this place has, in fact, required sacrifice and perseverance, which seems to be what people focus on when I share my experiences. “Strong” or “courageous” are words they might use. But I would suggest that, in my story, bravery has over time come to show itself in the facets of WILLINGNESS and OBEDIENCE."
I may hear or sometimes feel in others’ words, “It must be easier for you than it would be for me because you know you’re called.” To this I can only profess: No. I am SO human. My conviction comes from simple scripture and my marriage vows. To go and make disciples (Mt 28:19-20); to be together forever, wherever.
The tender and beautiful song by Hillsong United Oceans speaks so perfectly to the soul of not just myself but many others who have gone out in the world for a similar mission.
“You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail”
Jesus has shown me what it means to have obedience in the face of the great unknown. To remain willing. Not that I have mastered this! Oh my, not at all!! But He does gently remind me to speak to myself when I feel overwhelmed, confused, depressed, or unsure: “God knows.” He knows the ways in which I am struggling and the why’s. He knows the Plan, as things shift beyond our control in this life of constant transition (visas, travel, moving, other people arriving/leaving). He knows my need and my heart. On the days I blurt out my frustration, “Why am I here!?”… He knows.
I am getting better about asking for that daily strength, understanding it is my literal daily emotional bread. I am learning to be more willing to say “Lord, give me strength for today” instead of “Lord, can I just give up?” The strength is in KNOWING that HE knows, and in knowing HIM. That known is my anchor! While we aren’t all being directed by the Lord to set sail and move overseas, I feel grateful in being able to contemplate this truth that secures me and to practice it.
"The strength is in KNOWING that HE knows, and in knowing HIM. That known is my anchor!"
Bringing this all back to ultimate Truth, there is Philippians 3:7-8: “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.”
Strength, obedience, knowing Him. Thank God for these gifts in the precious life of walking with Him! May we all acknowledge our huge, grace-given need for Him – the Anchor in any unknown body of water, country on earth, season of life or of the soul. With Him, we know.
About the Author
Originally from Illinois, this writer currently serves in a North African country as a missionary and mom of two (soon to be three) alongside her husband. She holds an Early Childhood Education bachelors degree and taught in a pre-school for children with special needs for four years prior to marriage and moving overseas. She considers motherhood her first mission and is humbled to support and work alongside her spouse as they reach out to a remote group of people in the country in which they now reside.
IMPORTANT - PLEASE READ!!!
Today’s writer and her family are serving as missionaries in a country whose government is opposed to the message of Christianity and who also monitors phone use and social media of its inhabitants. It is VERY important that if you happen to know who this writer is, you DO NOT make comments revealing her name, family, location, or identity. If any such comments are made, they will be deleted. Thank you for your discretion and protection of this family overseas!
Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story!
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