Monday, December 8

How important prayer is for missionaries

We have been Stateside since May of this year. One of the things I have come to realize during our days in the USA is the 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 really sacrificing? God has always provided for our every need. He is 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. Each member of our family has had to pay a real price in order for us 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.
Peter:  "Behold, we have left our own homes and followed You." Jesus: "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." (Luke 18)
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 (ie. houses, wives, brothers, parents, grand children, comforts, etc.) in order to fulfill Christ's call on our life. There is a price to be paid. It isn't easy.

I guess that is why Christ said count the cost before taking the plunge. Some of Jesus' toughest words are found in Luke 14,
Those who come to me cannot be my disciples unless they love me more than they love father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and themselves as well. Those who do not carry their own cross and come after me cannot be my disciples. If one of you is planning to build a tower, you sit down first and figure out what it will cost, to see if you have enough money to finish the job. If you don't, you will not be able to finish the tower after laying the foundation; and all who see what happened will make fun of you. 'You began to build but can't finish the job!' they will say... In the same way," concluded Jesus, "none of you can be my disciple unless you give up everything you have.
These days we have spent in the States have highlighted in so many ways, "what might have been" had we chosen otherwise. While America is far from perfect, there is much good and certainly an 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 the missed opportunities that our children might have experienced had we made different choices, we can easily "second guess" the decisions we have made to live overseas like we do.

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 (eg. Lottie Moon Christmas Offering). Before William Carey, the "Father of the Modern Missionary Movement" went to India, he said to the small English 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?


4 comments:

Johnny M said...

Some good thoughts, Guy, and some I have wrestled with as well. You have done a very good job of looking at the sacrifices alongside the blessings. I, like you, have often felt that we are so blessed to be able to be here. We do not sacrifice in the same way as missionaries of 100 or more years ago. We are so very blessed in comparison with many around us. Yet, the sacrifice is very real when we look at family: funerals, weddings, and family reunions we have missed because of our calling to be here. How very important it is for those who pray for us to understand these issues.

J. Guy Muse said...

Johnny,

Thanks for the comments. I agree the real costs of our service are at the level of family. One can put up with a lot, but by far the hardest part is what it costs our families. Trust you guys are doing well. Lord willing, we will soon be joining you again in the task the Lord has called us to!

Anonymous said...

Hi Guy,

I too am a cross-cultural worker and I just wanted to write to let you know how God used you this morning. My family has been going through a significant ministerial dry-spell and Satan's biggest point of attack has been that of the draw of returning to the US. Just a few days ago some good friends of ours who work with us also announced their return to the US so they could be closer to family. This morning I was really, really wrestling with this and desiring to return home. I'd even begun brainstorming how I might do it. Satan's attack was in full force. Then I sat down at my computer and saw your post. My jaw fell open. Reading it I felt that it was written specifically for me. God really spoke to me clearly through your words. It was a cool drink of water in a scorching desert. After a few minutes of prayer, Satan knew he was defeated.

I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to write what you did. You didn't realize it at the time, but God was guiding you to minister to another struggling brother half a world away.

Blessings and Peace,
R

J. Guy Muse said...

Dear Anon.,

Wow, your testimony of timing of this blog post blows me away. Thanks for sharing. It is a huge encouragement. I think many of us M's out there think and struggle often with these kinds of thoughts, and that was why I shared what I did. Sometimes we think we are the only ones out there with these thoughts in our heads, when the reality is much different. May our Lord give you the strength and grace you need to see you through this time. Again, thanks for taking a moment to comment. It made my day!