From the beginning of our involvement with teamAREQUIPA we’ve been asked questions. I can understand that. For a group of college students to plan a long-term mission work in a foreign country surely raises a lot of questions among their family, friends, and supporters. As the time of our departure has gotten closer, the questions have been taking some interesting shifts. Early on we would hear information-gathering questions: Where is Peru? How long do you plan to be there? What type of mission work will you do? The questions I’m fielding now often have to do with how we can commit so much of our lives to this work, or how we can take our family out of the country for so long. Often times I’ve been told, “I couldn’t do that...moving to a foreign place and doing that work.”
Anytime I hear that statement I have to stop. I stop because that used to be my exact thoughts concerning mission work. Upon my graduation from high school I distinctly remember two things. One was that I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and that whatever my vocation would be it most likely would not be ministry. With those two things in mind I spent my first year in college primarily in....ministry courses. I couldn’t escape the courses offered by Harding, and I found myself drawn to those classes. For my first summer, I did a youth ministry internship with an East Texas church, and the next summer saw me at Shiloh Road working alongside Tim. It is amazing how often we seem sure of the decisions we make only to have God step in and remind that He has plans for us as well. God’s plan that I’m referring to is my wife. It is because of her that we thought and prayed about joining teamAREQUIPA and because of her calling to help children that we initially joined.
That statement also gives me pause because I think people look at what we are doing and think it is better than their life of faith. This is certainly not the case. God calls every believer to step beyond their comfort zone and submit themselves to something difficult in His name. I believe that everyone’s sacrifice will look different. Your sacrifice might be a particular ministry you’re involved in, or moving into a neighborhood of non-Christians to be a light in the darkness. You might excel in the business world so you can feed more of the hungry and care for the sick. You might care for your parents through their old age past the point the world expects of you. Each one of us has a different story, a different life, so it makes sense that our sacrifices will be different.
As David said in 2 Samuel 24, I cannot sacrifice to God that which costs me nothing. At the end of a time of trial for Israel, David needed to build an altar and make a sacrifice to God. He wanted to do so on the threshing floor of a man named Araunah. This man offered David everything he needed for the process; the wood, oxen, and land, but David refused. He could not take freely from this man and give it to God. That is the type of attitude we want to have. Larissa and I see this mission as a sacrifice to God. It isn’t that we couldn’t be faithful here in the U.S., but it would not require much of a sacrifice from us, it wouldn’t cost us much. We pray that our sacrifice to God in this way, knowing that it is costing us much, will be pleasing to Him.
Sacrifice is defined by doing something painful, but for a purpose. I’m not necessarily speaking of physical pain, though I can see that as a possibility. The pain I’m talking about is brought on by this fallen world we live in and by our adversary. When you make a sacrifice of your life to the Lord, the kind that costs you something, there will be pain in the offering. But we have hope that the Lord will aid us in our time of need because of our faith in Him. We know that He works good in the lives of those who love Him. Jesus blessed those poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, the persecuted, and the merciful. He promised the Kingdom of Heaven, comfort, mercy, inclusion in the family of God. Not only do we have those beautiful promises for the future but we have a family of believers here to aid us in our walk. He has it covered.
I’ve been impacted recently by a song called “Beauty from Pain” by the band Superchick. Let me share some of the lyrics:
I love this song because it reminds me that I am not the redeemer of my own life. God has redeemed me! He has saved me and in the end, it is He that will bring beauty from this world. We cling to the promise that “there will be a dawn.” That dawn is when Jesus returns. We know that leaps of faith, difficult choices and sacrifices are the perfect resources for God to change the world.