Tuesday, October 28

The cost involved in being a missionary

One of the things I have come to realize during these days here in the USA, is the high cost--the sacrifice--involved in our calling as missionaries. For most of my life I have had the attitude of tossing aside any semblance that we are "sacrificing" anything for Jesus. I guess we have always seen our own condition as far more blessed than the vast majority of people we relate to on the mission field. We have been given so much. What are we sacrificing? Are we really out there "suffering for Jesus?" God has provided for our every need. He has always been faithful.

And yet, being here in the States, I am seeing that following God's call on our life as overseas missionaries has been costly on us as a family. We have given up much. Each member of our family has had to pay a real price in order to live and serve our Lord overseas. I don't know if things would have been better or worse living this time in the USA, but I do know it has been costly to us as a family emotionally, spiritually, physically. In a real sense we bear real "scars" of our choice to follow Jesus like we have.

I have often thought about Jesus response to Peters words in Luke 18, "Behold, we have left our own homes and followed You." And He [JESUS] said... "Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life."

These words were the text of the message preached by Keith Parks at our appointment service as missionaries back in December of '86. I have always focused on the last part that promises we will receive "many times as much" for the little we might have sacrificed. But there is no skipping over the high cost entailed in leaving behind those things and people in order to fulfill one's calling. There is a price to be paid. It isn't easy.

These days we have spent in the States have highlighted in so many ways, "what might have been" had we NOT chosen to heed His call. While America is far from perfect, there is so much good and abundance of opportunities and blessings that few people in the rest of the world can even come close to dreaming about. When we see the houses, cars, and lifestyles of our peers, we can't help but wonder if, we too, might be living like that had we not chosen to follow His call on our lives. When we see all the missed opportunities available for our children, one can't help but have second thoughts about them getting "second best" by our living overseas like we do.

Don't get me wrong, we aren't thinking about resigning. I don't believe God is finished with us yet in what He has for us to do in Ecuador, but we have had a lot of time to reflect the past few weeks. Stateside Assignment (furlough) is indeed a time for reflection, evaluation, processing, restoration, healing, rest, and re-equipping for returning. We have been so grateful to the Lord for this time made available to us to deal with our own needs.

Some of the questions going around in my head these days are:
  • has it been worth it?
  • are we really making a difference overseas?
  • have we really made any kind of lasting, significant contribution?
  • is it time to move on and do something else?
  • is the work better or worse off for our being there?
  • have we been faithful?
  • are we supposed to go back?
  • does God have more for us to do there before relieving us of this responsibility?
  • how do we balance of obeying God's call with the needs of our children?
I share these thoughts with you as a means of expressing how important praying for missionaries is. We are common people, with real needs like anyone else. We need your prayers and support (a la Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.) Before William Carey, the "Father of the Modern Missionary Movement" went to India, he said to the little society of believers sending him, "I will go down the mine, if you will all hold the ropes for me."

Will you continue to hold the ropes for us?

11 comments:

Kevin Bart said...

Guy, there obviously is a cost to going oversees and joining God in His work, especially to the family. Many do not understand how difficult it can be for a family.
Your post reminds me of something Henry Blackaby wrote - he wrote about the high cost of adjusting your life to join God in His work (to family, to self, to others,...), but that the cost of NOT going is far higher in terms of other peoples' eternal destinies, God's kingdom,...
May God bless you and your family, and your service for Him, for His glory.

GuyMuse said...

Kevin,

Wise words indeed and an encouragement to me. Thanks.

tandcand5kids said...

Hi Guy, coming from the other side of things, we've just given up all that American dream stuff. After 22 years of marriage and 5 kids, we've pared our lives down to suitcase size. We'll get on a plane Sunday and head across the world to serve Him full time. After a few months of service, I'll get back with you on the "was it worth it" question from our view. So far - the answer is Yes!

GuyMuse said...

tandcand5kids,

Thanks for stopping by. I clicked on your blog and see that you are at the training center. We were there back in '87 and loved every minute of our time there before heading off to Ecuador. It is refreshing to be reminded of that excitement and anticipation of heading off to the field. We still have a heart for serving where He has called us, but it has been a long haul. It has been worth it, but there has been a price paid. Blessings on you as you embark on this new chapter in your life and service of our Lord!

Tim Patterson said...

Guy,

I know what you are saying... but Dorcas and I have been lamenting what we have given up by following the Lord back to the states for this season in our lives. Not to downplay the sacrifice and hardships you have experienced, just reflecting on all the benefits of living life on the road less traveled.

Like the saying goes... "the grass is always greener on the other side." ... I add to that saying... "and the same old cows live there too!"

GuyMuse said...

Tim,

There are indeed benefits of the life we live overseas. No doubt about it. And you are right about the sacrifices involved in coming back to the States. I know for us, it would be difficult to make the transition. But there is a cost in being a missionary and living overseas in a different culture, language, and values. God's call is never about what "feels good" but about obedience. In obedience we find fullness of life--even if it is sacrificial to do so.

On another note: we met a wonderful couple from your church out at Glorieta at a marriage enrichment retreat (I'm sure you know who I am referring to!) They were absolutely wonderful conference leaders. You guys are very lucky to have them in your church! They talked very positively about you and your wife and the work you guys are doing there in Smyrna with the church.

The Rayburns said...

Guy,
This is something that my family needed to hear. We leave Dec. 1 for Costa Rica. I'm already feeling the emotional drain of leaving family. Thanks for your openes about things not getting easier.

GuyMuse said...

Rayburns,

Thanks for the comment. May the Lord grant you the grace needed to say all the good-byes as you head for Costa Rica. We loved our time in CR back in 1987, and hope it is a good time for you and your family as well.

Rick said...

Guy,
We were only overseas for 10 years, but I understand what you mean. I've been evaluating our lives since returning to the US and have found that there was a great cost for our family as well. Not just for my immediate family, but our extended family. We missed crises, celebrations, and daily "stuff". My kids don't know their cousins. They hardly know our customs. Their immersion into American culture has been difficult; more difficult than I anticipated.

But, it was worth it.

Be strong. Stand firm. We have the ropes.

God bless you guys.

GuyMuse said...

Rick,

Good to hear from you, it's been awhile! As an MK myself, I can relate to much of what you comment on a personal level. Our own two MKs are also going through many of these issues and it is hard on them. I have never regretted my upbringing as an MK, but as I write, there is a cost involved. Thanks for writing.

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