Missionary Mom: The Affection of Christ

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
— Paul, Philippians 1:3-11

It is hard to believe that furlough is a month away for us. I have to tell you that I am so ready. I get to a point when I deeply miss my family and need to see them. I think I am past that point right now, but I am waiting patiently for those 7 wonderful weeks of being “home.” 

Two years ago, I would have had a totally different outlook on my life here. The newness had worn off, and the little things that drove me crazy in this culture REALLY drove me crazy at that point. It would not have been a good time to return to the place where I was comfortable--the states. But at that time, 2 years ago, we had no church family, and still felt very alienated from those around us. 

Today, I love Arequipa. It is home. It is where my family calls home and where we are comfortable. We have a loving church family, and I feel that God is still calling us to stay here, because there is a lot for us to do. Just recently, I have heard many taxi drivers ask me how I like it here. I always tell them that I like Arequipa, but just recently it dawned on me: I like Arequipa. The hardest part of being away from my home country is being so far from family. 

I am studying the book of Philippians with two of my Christian sisters here. Paul is incredible, isn’t he? I posted the passage at the beginning of my article because it stood out to me like never before this past week. When I read Paul’s letters to the churches, it is obvious to me that he has an incredible relationship with them. He deeply loves and cherishes the bond that he shares with them in Christ. Like Paul, I am a missionary building relationships among a people that I will not always be this close to (in proximity). But I can truly tell you that I have developed relationships with these people to the point that I long for them “with the affection of Christ.” Isn’t that a beautiful phrase. 

I will love my time in the states. I long for you all back home with the affection of Christ. But I am confident that I will be ready to return to Arequipa. I love these people here. I love my brothers and sisters in Christ, and I love others that I want to see come into relationship with God the Father. I will miss them deeply while I am gone. But also... I am so thankful that I have the family of God all over the world. When I am away from you all, I miss you deeply. But isn’t it joy to pray, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” 

God’s good work is being done throughout the world. May his name be glorified in all that we do.