Confessions of a would-be missionary

Confessions of a would-be missionary

Confessions of a would-be missionary

Just after I wrote last month's article, we received the
news that our application to work on the Operation Mobilisation ship, the
Doulos, had been accepted and there was much rejoicing in the camp. After a
couple of days, we calmed down a little and reality started to seep into our
rose-coloured view of what we, as real missionaries, would be doing. From there
it was only a short step to downright amazement and fear -– amazement because
we were daring to believe that we could make a difference for the Lord, and fear
because we couldn't believe that we had taken the drastic step of committing
ourselves to a two year stint on board a ship that sails out of sight of land
and which also provides us with 300+ neighbours to our left and right, above us,
below us and opposite us. Add to that the fact that everyone on board the ship
are officially classed as volunteers and have the privilege of paying their own
way for that whole time and it would appear that we need our heads read. This is
the sort of situation that normally would send me running a mile. (Did I mention
that I'm claustrophobic?)

So why weren't we running? Is it because we are extra
special people, gifted and endowed with talents too many to mention? Sadly, no!

Maybe it's because we have an incredible heart for the
unsaved that is strong enough to overcome my nervousness of being on the open
sea -– wrong again. We would love to see people come to the Lord through our
ministry but General Booths we are not. Could it be that the Lord created us as
'missionary material' because He knew that most people couldn't cope with
it? Again, I don't think so! I believe that the reason we are still going
ahead with this adventure is simply because the Lord put it in our hearts to
want to do it. I've noticed time and time again, that when the Lord does
something, it doesn't matter what the person's normal reaction to a
situation would be -– it doesn't even enter the picture.

So, having established that this is where the Lord wants us
to be for the next two years (with other signs and confirmations too many to
mention), the next step to take is to make suitable arrangements for house,
vehicle, vaccinations, horses, cat and kittens. (The bird was no longer an issue
after the cat ate it.)

First, the house. It's not finished yet and the pressure
comes on to finish it off so that we can rent it out, wondering who the tenants
will be and will we mind very much knowing they're in our home? As all good
missionaries do, (we are starting to find out), we commit it to the Lord and
approach some friends who might be interested although their present tenancy
does not finish until six months after we leave. Interestingly enough, they want
the house, even in its unfinished state, and arrange for another tenant to
finish off their commitment. This releases the pressure of finishing off the
house immediately.

The animals are a concern as no-one wants the cat and kittens
because of the cat's rather unusual habits -– no-one, that is, until we
commit the situation in prayer to the Lord. Interestingly enough, our sister and
brother-in-law say that they would like to take them.

Finding enough people to support us while we're away is a
problem as we fight shy of asking and haven't had good experiences when we
have asked. However, again, the situation is committed to the Lord in prayer and
again, interestingly enough, answers start appearing in strange ways -– strange
enough to know that they have to be answers from the Lord as there's no way
that they could happen naturally or be coincidental.

The requirement to take two year's worth of clothing per
person is not an easy one to fulfil. It tends to take money and when our eldest
daughter mentioned the fact that some of her present clothes may not comply with
the dress code on board the ship (we have to be culturally sensitive in this
area), we welcomed the opportunity for her to go to the Lord in prayer for
herself and see how He would answer her prayers. Interestingly enough, a
babysitting job came up which paid better than expected, and somehow, when she
sewed herself a few items of clothing, she found that she had enough for the two
years and is now calling it a 'modern miracle'.

This in itself is an answer to our own prayers. We believe
that our children are now the right age to take out in service for the Lord so
that they can forge their own intimate relationships with Him. Because we will
no longer be able to just go out and do what we want, when we want and how we
want, they will have to learn to depend on Him. This is so exciting for us!

When nervously sitting in the doctor's office for
vaccinations, I was silently pleading with the Lord to keep the children calm
and therefore, it was a shock to hear the first one comment, "I didn't even
feel that!" and then to hear the next one say, "Neither did I, can I have
another one?"

Various prayers requests that the Lord look after certain
loved ones have been answered so I can leave without being anxious about their
welfare. Situations that I have worried myself sick about, before following the
advice of the old hymn, "Take it to the Lord in prayer", have been resolved
in ways that I would never have expected.

When I sit down and honestly ask myself if I can cope with
what we are going to be doing - seeing people coming to the Lord, encouraging
others in their walks with Him, exploring countries we normally wouldn't
travel to, meeting new people, giving our children experiences beyond Pelorus
Bridge, living in a couple of small cabins on a ship after a 6 bedroom house
surrounded by farms, giving up our independence to work with others for the good
of everyone, not being able to just go out and buy what I've always bought
with little or no thought, not being able to just pick up the telephone and ring
my family from wherever whenever I want to...., I have to tell the truth -– I
am not what I consider 'missionary material', but then again, is there any
such thing? Aren't those amazing people just normal people like you and me,
who have made themselves available for the Lord to use? If this is the case, and
He has graciously accepted our availability, then I know that He will equip us
with the gifts and talents and commitment that we need to see us through.

Some of the old hymn's most special lines for me are, "Oh,
what peace we often forfeit, Oh, what needless pain we bear, All because we do
not carry, Everything to God in prayer."