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Missions Is Learning From Your Failures

Last week I made a pretty dumb mistake.

That doesn’t make me a dumb person, but an intelligent who in a moment when he wasn’t paying attention, made a foolish choice.

But that didn’t take away the feeling of shame and embarrassment.

Shame is a natural response when we have made a foolish mistake, so this is not sinful. Allowing that shame to affect our choices in the future DEFINITELY IS.

You see, Satan loves to tell us things in that moment of shame that simply aren’t true:

  1. “You ALWAYS make foolish mistakes”
  2. “You are a dumb person, who could never succeed”
  3. Or “You may as well not attempt the hard things, since you’ll just fail always”

When Satan told me these lies after my foolish choice last week I knew they weren’t true….

The problem was in that moment of shame they FELT as if they were true!

Failure (and the shame that comes with it) is a part of life. So the important thing isn’t to try to escape it, but deal with that embarassment when it comes.

And for me, that means embracing it.

This is a hard thing to do becuse what we FEEL like doing is moving on from that shameful experience because it’s painful. But actually the Lord uses our failures as a time for personal evaluation.

This means asking some hard questions.

  1. Why did I make this embarassing mistake?
  2. What weakness, or sin is God pointing out through this experience?
  3. What could I have done to keep this mistake from happening?
  4. And how can I keep this mistake from ever happening again?

Through these hard (and painful) questions I often, with the Holy Spirit’s help, realize the core problem of my shameful experience. And then create a habit that can keep it from happening again.

The shame of failure is God’s way of showing us how we can serve Him better. It is far better to own our failure than to act it never happened.

Missions is Not Forgetting the Forgotten

About three-years ago I began visiting an older saint on Thursday mornings. We first met during the churches weekly shut-in visitation on Sunday afternoons. A few weeks later a church member who lived nearby told me she wanted a visit.

We would read a passage of Scripture, sing, and she’d happily share stories from her childhood. Eventually I’d heard those stories enough to tell them myself, but it was worth hearing her testify once again of God’s goodness.

Last year she moved away for a time to live with another daughter (usually lived with the oldest one), so for months I couldn’t meet with her. But when she returned to get the Covid vaccine, we met again with much joy.

Our visits aren’t very long these days because she’s in her eighties….

She doesn’t have a lot of energy, struggles reading, and sometimes can’t remember what we were talking about.

But every Thursday morning she is sitting on her porch with the Bible I bought her in America. A huge smile on her face.

Experiences like this remind me part of ministry is remembering the “forgotten.” These are individuals who cannot leave the home easily (either elderly or informed) and long for human interaction. Sadly because they aren’t seen daily, people forget they are there.

They forget because it’s too late

A friend sent me a message Sunday morning informing me of the funeral of a man who we had used to visit on Sunday Afternoons named “Mr. Black.”

He was blind, but always excited to hear us come, and ready to give a testimony for the Lord. He loved an older hymn “through all the changing seasons of life” and would sing the words with all of his might when we visited.

Because of Covid, we haven’t had Sunday afternoon visitation in over a year. I believe this is a wise and safe choice, but part of me wished I could have heard Brother Black sing again.

May God help us remember the older saints around us. For as we read, sing, and listen to their stories again the Lord brings great joy to their hearts.

Missions is Being Safe, but not Scared

Beginning last month, we had a huge growth in Covid cases, and deaths in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Most of this is because workers have been sent back to SVG from a nearby island that is currently locked down because of Covid cases.

As the cases continue to spread, I am encouraging individuals to be safe, but not scared

Being safe means doing everything possible to make sure that you’re healthy. That way if you do get Covid, your body is able to fight it off. I have personally taken the vaccine to help with this, and also use vitamins with a healthy diet, as well as an exercise routine (lots of walking).

I have close friends who don’t want to take the vaccine, and thats okay (it’s their choice). However, for them being safe means working very hard to make sure their immune system is strong.

We also encourage safety in Church services:

  1. Through sanitising our hands
  2. Wearing masks
  3. Social distancing
  4. And staying home if we don’t feel well

there is nothing wrong with being safe, but being scared is very wrong.

Being scared is constantly thinking about Covid, and allowing it to control our lives. There are currently no serious lockdowns or safety restrictions regarding church services (we may have some soon). Therefore, I’m actively pursuing ministry opportunities as the Covid grows. In fact we recently started back Sunday School (it was ended shortly before my medical furlough).

The point is there’s a big difference between being safe and scared

  1. Being scared keeps me at home because I “might” encounter someone who has Covid
  2. Being scared keeps me from visiting individuals through ministry.
  3. Being scared panics whenever someone is not wearing their mask properly 1
  4. Being scared is constantly worrying if someone else has Covid

Ministry cannot be done this way!

The recent lockdowns since 2020 have taught us that freedom is something that we can take for granted. We only realise that too late when Covid takes it away from us.

Every moment of freedom we have must be spent actively doing the work of God….

Because the day may come that freedom is taken away from us.

  1. I do wear masks, and make sure everyone in church wears them properly for one anothers safety, But at the same time allow others to make their own health choices for the most part

Missions is Doing Your Cultural Homework

One day after getting out of quarantine, I went to visit some friends at a local shop. After asking about my time in America, and commenting on how fat I got, we got caught up on recent news.

For around a half-hour many of the more controversial issues in the US were discussed.

  1. The Covid Delta Variant
  2. Vaccinations
  3. The need for quarantine before entering a country
  4. And Afghanistan

I won’t go into detail about my views on each 1. Instead I want to highlight the fact that people in foreign countries love to discuss current events in America. I’ve had MANY political discussions leading up the the recent presidential election in the streets of Barrouallie!

These conversations about what’s going in the United States shows me just how much what goes on in America affects other Countries….

And it also challenges me to do my cultural homework

In 2008 I was with a group of American missionaries in an Australian coffee shop. As we were talking an Aussie asked if we were American, then proceeded to tell us who to vote for, and why. That was one of my first experiences like that so it kind of surprised me. But as those conversations continued, I realised it was important to not only have a stance on controversial issues, but be able to defend them.

Sunday I finished the audible version of “Faultlines” by Voddie Baucham. I had read the kindle version of the book, but enjoyed the audible version better because it allowed me to listen to chapters more than once.

Throughout the book, you realise Baucham is someone who has done his homework. He understands Critical Race Theory 2 better than almost anyone who holds to the view! In a spirit of love and humility, Baucham takes apart the arguments for CRT, and shows just how damaging this view is.

This calm and technical discussion of the problem is very different than the way we (myself included) usually deal with controversial issues. We share “hot takes” that are taken as fact without any proof, then anyone who disagrees with us is mis-represented.

This is not standing for the truth friends…..

This is laziness!

It’s easy to send a tweet or Facebook post about a controversial issue, it’s hard to clearly explain and defend your viewpoint sitting across the table from someone who disagrees.

Yes we should stand for the truth, and call out sin. But have a foundation of Scripture, and clear understanding instead of personal opinion.

  1. Those who are interested in my views can contact me directly
  2. The cultural issue he challenges in the book

Missions is Being Angry for the Right Reasons

Ephesians 4:26 “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:”

People in Barrouallie don’t see me angry a lot, because it takes a lot to make me angry. But they saw me angry Friday.

And thats okay….

Because it was something worth getting angry over.

Occasionally I bring some balls from America for children in the community to play with. It gives them something constructive to do, and helps build relationships.

Friday afternoon a little boy was happily playing with a ball when a teenager playing soccer nearby decided to take ball from him.

Seeing the little boy in tears because a teenager took his ball is something worth getting angry over

After we got the ball back, he went back to waiting for his soccer game. When he saw me approaching and calling his name, he immediately jumped up and ran a safe distance away.

There was not yelling or vulgar language

But I made very clear to him that taking a ball from a little boy didn’t make him a man. I went as far as to challenge him to take the ball out of my hand if he was man enough (he wasn’t).

Anger should not be a constant characteristic of our lives. But on ocassion, anger explained in calm terms and a controlled spirit is necessary to confront sin.

The reason this boy habitually took balls from little children is nobody did anything about it. A lady shouted at him to give the ball back, but never actually got up to make him do so. She then told me it was my fault because I shouldn’t have brought the balls anyways! Because nobody stood up and called it wrong, he just kept doing it.

The Lord reminded me Friday that I could have given the boy a break (he was a teenager after all!) but sometimes somebody needs to stand up and say “this is wrong.”

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