A Word From Molly…

My guest blogger today is my 18 year old daughter…

When I chose to follow Christ, it meant that I began a life of surrender. Surrender of my own comfort, plans, dreams, and desires. As my parents were obedient to God’s calling to our family to move halfway across the world following the 2004 tsunami, I got my first example of what true surrender meant and looked like. My family began a life-changing journey that brought each one of us to our knees, and broke of us of our own self-reliance. My time overseas living in a strict Islamic culture without a doubt made me the person that I am today because every day as we lived in an area that was so incredibly spiritually dark, we were forced to rely on the power of God’s Word and His Gospel. But as I left many things in America that meant so much to me the day we boarded the plane, I never could have imagined all that God would show me, teach me, and break me of. Yes, it was surrender, but it was never a sacrifice.

Since living overseas and growing in my understanding of the Word of God, I have begun to realize what matters on this earth- what I want to devote my life to. I now long for my life to have eternal value and significance because otherwise, a life not lived in servitude to Christ is a life wasted. While living in Southeast Asia, God began to show me what it is in life that truly matters. I was taken away from American public school, church, and youth group, and was instead surrounded by men and women who were so burdened for the souls of these lost people that they would devote their lives to making His name known. As I saw my parents pour out their lives for the Muslims of Southeast Asia in the name of the Gospel, it compelled me to step out of what was previously convenient or comfortable for my first-world self. Every day was a leap outside of my comfort zone, whether it be not having power or running water for days, or even something as small as trying an unfamiliar food at a local’s house. My eyes were suddenly opened to a whole other world that existed outside of our fifty states- one where I was a social, ethnic, and religious minority for the first time in my life.

Yes, those three years were the best three years of my life, and yes, it was absolutely the most intensive learning experience of my life, but there were parts that were incredibly hard. Each day in times of great doubt I had to claim the promises of the Bible for my life- promises that He is faithful, He is good, and He provides. And on days when I was unable to do so for myself, my parents claimed them for me and reminded me of what is true.  Our family’s favorite verse became Proverbs 3: 5-6 which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and he will make your paths straight.” It was my three years overseas that I really learned to trust God with my whole life. He showed me how to lay all of my own desires for my life at His feet, and learn that without a doubt His plans are so incredibly better than mine. As John Piper says, “Every significant advance I have ever made in grasping the depths of God’s love and growing deep in Him has come through suffering.” While I would not say that I ‘suffered’ during my time overseas, I definitely relate to the idea of having to be broken before being molded. All that I have learned about God’s character during my walk with Christ has come through times of being broken and fighting through feelings of unbelief. God’s Word became so real to me, because I watched as He was so incredibly faithful, to both me and my future.

As the Dutch missionary Andrew van der Bijl said, “Jesus didn’t say, ‘Go if the doors are open, because they weren’t. He didn’t say ‘Go if you have an invitation or a red carpet treatment.’ He said, ‘Go’, because people need His word.” Because my parents were first obedient to God’s calling, I was then able to follow them and be shown how desperately our world needs Christ. I wasn’t reading about these people in books, and they weren’t just a number to me in the estimated 4,194,493,061 people who are living in countries with a population of less than 2% evangelical Christians- they were friends. Real people that my family and I grew to love. And while we laughed together around the dinner table, it became clear to me that no matter how many times a day they knelt on their prayer rugs, Jesus wasn’t Lord of their lives, and their souls destined for an eternity in hell.

People need Jesus, and now as I contemplate how I want my life to have significance, there seems no greater purpose than to devote your life to mission work. As a family, we often talk about how when we were serving overseas we felt that our lives mattered. We were a part of something that was so much greater than just ourselves- and everyday as we surrendered our lives to the will of God, He moved and worked in miraculous ways and did the inexplicable. What a pleasure and privilege it is to be used by God for the glorification of His name. One of my favorite quotes from John Piper’s Desiring God is “Jesus promises to work and be for us so much that we will not be able to speak of having sacrificed anything”, and that is exactly how I feel. God really was all for us- He was so incredibly all-sufficient to us during our time overseas, in the tangible and intangible.

In my Bible, I keep my original one-way plane ticket from Raleigh-Durham to Southeast Asia from 2006. As a reminder,  it is bookmarked next to one of my favorite verses which reads, “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us”, (Eph 3:20). Yes, Christ calls us out of what’s comfortable, what’s convenient, and what’s safe, but I have continually learned that obedience to His calling and will is best. May I never forget to always see the immeasurable worth of knowing Jesus as my reward, and be willing to give of myself to gain even just a little bit more of the greatness of Christ, wherever in the world He leads.

 

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Ministry is a Life Lived Together, Not “Your Husband’s Job”

Warning..I’m going to call out the women in this one. Which I can. Because I am one. And I’m 50 too. Which means I have been a woman for a long, long time, so I know some stuff. And I’ve been a mother for 22 years and a wife for almost 28, so I know some stuff about that too.

Recently Curt and I spoke on a panel about living overseas. Our audience was prospective international church planters. When I learned about a very serious issue facing the global organization we worked for when we served in Southeast Asia, I jumped at the chance to address it. The problem? The prevalence of families serving overseas who (in the organization’s words) “want to recreate a middle class American family existence overseas where the wife stays home and the husband does the ministry.” In short, they are finding that wives do not want to be held to the same expectations as their husband when it comes to learning language and sharing the Gospel. They want to have the freedom to stay at home to raise their children, be a housewife, and leave the “work” to their husbands.

WHAT?!

Since you can always count on me to have a strong opinion (I wasn’t born and raised in NYC for nothing), let me preface this the way I did that night to the people in attendance: In the 22 years that I have been a mother, I have been both a working mom and a stay at home mom. And yes, I believe that being a stay at home mom was the far more rewarding role and the one that absolutely was best for my family. So this is not a stay_at_home_Mom_hater post. Read on.

When you become a follower of Jesus, your life is no longer your own.

” Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24 ESV).

In addition, all of Jesus’ followers are called to make disciples.

 “And Jesus came and said to them, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV).

Although disciple-making is something every Christian husband and wife is called to do, when you are called into full time ministry, and become “professional Christians,” 😉 you don’t take on a new job, you begin a new life. If you then compare your husband’s work  hours with someone who has a 9-5 corporate job, it won’t be long before the “overworked and definitely underpaid” aspect will get to you. Don’t ever look at it as a job. Remember, its a life, and one that is being well spent!

But that applies no matter what side of the world we find ourselves on. So specific to those serving overseas, I broke my response down into 5 of the roles that I now play..

GIVER

My family and I financially give as generously as we possibly can to the organization that sent us overseas for one reason.. so that unreached, unengaged people groups can hear the Gospel. Remember that. Your salary and benefits are a result of people giving “sacrificially.” (I’m not such a fan of the whole ‘sacrificial giving’ description..Jesus is the only one in every equation who made a ‘sacrifice’) As international church planters, you made a committment to devote your lives to seeing the Gospel transform entire people groups. In the case of our sending organization, both the husband and the wife sign the contract. No one financially gives so you can transplant your American life overseas, brag about being “bilingual” to your friends back home, and post exotic photos on your blog.

SENDER

In Curt’s role at the Summit Church of training and leading international church planters, he will not send anyone who is not a well equipped disciple maker fully committed to the main thing, male or female. People who are not already actively engaging unreached people in their own culture won’t do it in a foreign one. We expect both husband and wife to be doing this, while they are still in America. There are only missionaries, not ‘missionary wives’ (which sounds like a bad reality show). If you aren’t both called, then you aren’t ready to go, because you don’t yet fully understand calling.

WIFE

As Curt’s wife of almost TWENTY EIGHT YEARS, I was designed by God to be a helper to him. That’s why I participate in helping him train and equip others to take the Gospel to places where Jesus is not yet known outside of America. Although I still have a child at home, who is homeschooled, I don’t use that as an excuse not to join my husband in the work God has called us to do. As my husband and spiritual leader, Curt is called to encourage me in my own giftings in our ministry. We are one another’s first partner in the Gospel.

MOTHER

None of us lead single focus lives. For example, I am a Christ follower, a wife, a mother, a homeschooler, an author, a pregnancy care center director, a volunteer, a friend, etc. I want to model for my children what I hope to see them do: make disciples. That is not “Dad’s job,” it’s who we are as a family. And before you say, “Oh Hilary, you don’t understand how HARD it is to learn language and do ministry when you have babies or little ones.” Yes I do. First of all, Jordan and Molly weren’t born awesome teenagers. They were babies too once. Secondly, I lived alongside wives and mothers who were actively engaged in what we were all there to do. Finally, don’t forget that during my term overseas, I transitioned a middle schooler and a high schooler who had lived their whole life in the States up until that point, and were having to be homeschooled for the first time in their lives while I did language and ministry. That was not easy or relaxing. When I was home with the kids in Southeast Asia,  I made my house helper my best language teacher by talking to her for extended periods of time every day. She was the first person I shared the Gospel with in SE Asia. In addition, Curt made sure I had time every week to get out of the house and be with friends that I was actively sharing the Gospel with. Your husband can and should do that too. And think about the great mothers who have gone before us all…Ann Judson, Elisabeth Elliot, Maria Taylor, Betty Stam, just to name a few..were they sitting at home while their husbands did the work? Definitely not.

 

TEAMMATE

I’m so thankful to have served on a highly successful and highly functioning team in SE Asia. Although we were (and still are) FAMILY, we were also employees of the same company. And as someone who has years and years of work experience in many different roles, one thing was the same no matter where I worked: employees don’t get to pick and choose what part of their job they will do. They call those people, “former employees.”  In our organization, during the first year we are paid to learn the language and culture so that we can share the Gospel in the local language and in culturally appropriate ways. If you make excuses about being too busy or tired with the kids to learn, then you are taking money for a job you were hired to do that you aren’t doing. Besides, in the part of the world where we lived, males and females were segregated for the most part. It wasn’t appropriate for Curt to share with a woman. So if wives don’t learn language and culture, how will the unreached, unenaged women hear? I wouldn’t want to be on a team with a woman who wasn’t actively engaged with the language, culture, and ministry.

In short it comes down to two questions..

Are you going overseas to facilitate a specific lifestyle? If so, do that on your own dime.

Or are you going overseas willing to do whatever God asks you to do so that unreached, unengaged people groups can hear the Gospel? Fifty percent of the unreached and unenaged won’t hear the Gospel if fifty percent of those sent to proclaim the Gospel are silent. So learn the language and culture and share the Gospel because ministry is not “your husband’s job.”

An Insanely Great Book (that isn’t Sent)

I love this story, and the book, wow. A must read (after you read Sent of course). I got to sit under Nik’s teaching several years ago and I have never thought of international church planting or persecution the same way since.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book…

“I knew that God had never promised to reward obedient sacrifice with measureable success. At the same time, I wondered why our sacrifices had yielded so little. Maybe, I wondered, there were results that we could not see.”

“This was not the kind of inspirational testimony that we love to celebrate; this was raw, biblical faith.”

“Jesus is worth it. He is worth my life, my wife’s life, and He is worth the lives of my children! I have got to get them involved in what God is doing with me!”

“The greatest enemy of our faith today is not communism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Atheism, or even Islam. Our greatest enemy is lostness. Lostness is the terrible enemy that Jesus commissioned His followers to vanquish with the battle strategy that He spelled out to them in Matthew 28:18-20 (“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”) He was addressing this same enemy when He plainly clarified His purpose in coming:  “I have come to seek and to save those who are lost.”

“Those believers have also taught me a whole new perspective on persecution. For decades now, many concerned western believers have sought to rescue their spiritual brothers and sisters around the world who suffer because they choose to follow Jesus. Yet our pilgrimage among house churches in persecution convinced us that God may actually want to use them to save us from the often debilitating, and sometimes spiritually-fatal, effects of our watered down, powerless western faith.”

“After almost 20 years of walking through this world of persecution and talking to hundreds of believers who suffer for their faith, we can say without a shadow of a doubt that the primary cause of “religious persecution” in the world today is people surrendering their hearts and lives to Jesus. For decades the western church has been taught to pray and work for an end to the persecution of fellow believers around the world. We enlist our congregations, our denominations, and even our government to speak out and pressure oppressive regimes in hostile nations to end discrimination. Sometimes we even demand that persecutors be punished.”

“We seem to forget that Jesus himself promised that the world would reject and mistreat His faithful followers just as it rejected Him. Could it be that the only way that Almighty God could actually answer prayers asking Him to end the persecution of believers … would be to stop people from accepting Christ as their Lord and Savior? If people stopped accepting Christ as Lord and Savior … persecution would end immediately. That would be the only way to end persecution.”

“We have seldom encountered a mature believer living in persecution who asked us to pray that their persecution would cease. We have never heard that request. Rather, believers in persecution ask us to pray that “they would be faithful and obedient through their persecution and suffering.”

That is a radically different prayer.”

Yes it is..

Looking Back as We Looked Forward

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1

IMG_2650Three plus (cringe) years into our being back in the States, I came across this… Curt’s reflections on our final house church gathering as we prepared to leave SE Asia and return to America..Three years (sigh) in and I still get a lump in my throat when I remember this day, or when I do things like look at pictures of our life there or think about my house helper and beloved friend, Natalie. Curt’s pictures of us saying goodbye on our last day together still bring me to tears…

We’re in a season of “lasts” here right now. The days are passing all too quickly and we are realizing that the activities, places, and routines that have been so usual, so normal, for us over the last 3 years are quickly coming to an end. Our last visits with certain friends, our last team meeting together, our last trip to the beach, and so on are on the horizon. Ordinary activities in this extraordinary place have taken on an even greater significance and urgency.

So, while our arrival back in our home culture still seems a ways off, the reality is that our time here, in this place, is nearly over.

One such “lasts” happened on Sunday. Our house fellowship met for the last time with its full, current, membership. One of our other members is leaving this week to attend a wedding in the US and won’t return until my wife has already left. So, we spent some time reminiscing. Our membership has changed a lot over the last few years…our family is the final remaining founding members of our house church. As others have come and gone, we’ve remained the constant thread. We’ve had lots of goodbyes. Now it is our turn.

As the date of our departure(s) approaches, I admit to feeling a whole range of emotions…

Sadness. It is difficult for all of us to leave people and places that have become so much of our lives over the last several years. There is unfinished business here and it is difficult to admit that our direct role in that work has come to an end. Our departure is clearly hitting my wife the hardest. Her heart now has deep roots here and she’s established deep connections in many people’s lives.

Worry. What will our transition back to American culture be like? I know we’ll all struggle at times with the difference between the pace, depth, and intensity of life stateside compared to that which we’ve lived with for nearly 3 years. We’re returning to a country that has changed a lot since 2006…at the same time, we return very different people than the ones that left.

Happiness. I’m happy for our kids. They are different from many of the kids that have grown up in this type of work because the bulk of their lives have been spent in America and they are returning to the culture that is most familiar to them. They’ve grown and flourished here and matured in ways they never could have in the States and can now return with a greater appreciation for the wonderful things of our home culture and with the gift of an amazing perspective on the life before them.

Excitement. I’m thrilled to be able to return to a role that connects me to the work and task that burdens my heart. I’m amazed at how God pulled us out of our former lives, carried us across the globe for His service, and is now carrying us back to continue that service. We knew that God would not lead us back to a resumption of our former lifestyle and we’re incredibly blessed to be given the opportunity to serve Him in new and exciting ways.

As we sat and worshiped together with our house fellowship the other day, we were each asked what verses God was putting on our hearts during this time of transition. The responses my family gave blew me away…

My wife read Isaiah 26: 3-4, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.”

My son cited Jeremiah 17: 7-8, “But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

My daughter chose Deuteronomy 10:12-13, “And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good.”

And I returned to the passage that has sustained me each day for the last 3 years, Proverbs 3: 5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

What an amazing testimony this is. Each passage that my family chose reflects an awareness of our daily need to trust Him who sustains us. We give Him all of our emotions and know that He will carry us through.

So, in this our “season of lasts” we all recognize that our foundation is a “life of Trust.”

Amen.

Why I Am Not Going to See “The Impossible”

A new movie, that is not Les Mis, hit theatres recently and, though the subject matter is very personal to me, I won’t be going to see this one. Check out the trailer for The Impossible here:

This movie tells the story of a family who become separated from one another as they are vacationing at a luxury resort in Thailand when the 2004 Asian tsunami hit. There the similarities begin and end with my family because I too was on vacation that fateful day, though never separated from my family as we were on our way to swim with manatees in Florida. And this is also where Hollywood starts manipulating the story to attempt to get you to think, “Can you imagine if that happened to us?!!! OMG!!!” Truthfully this movie is based on the experience of a Spanish family..close culture enough, but..if Hollywood turns the Spanish family into an “English” family, well, that’s even closer. Talk about an “us-centric” perspective.

Although I am sure there is a powerful story to tell about what happened to this family that day and in the days that followed, I couldn’t bear to watch a film about the tsunami told from this perspective. Again, no disrespect to the real family that this based_on_a_true_story film is about, but I am less interested in how this disaster affected a Western white family, than I am in its impact on the people who call that part of the world their home. Hundreds of thousands of lives were lost in the 2004 tsunami and countless more had their lives forever changed. A tiny fraction of those looked like the family in The Impossible.

Almost two years after the disaster, my family and I moved to the area that was hardest hit by the tsunami and lived there for 3 years. In our time there, I never met a single person who had not lost family and or dear friends in the disaster. I met mothers who lost all of their children, their babies literally wrenched from their arms by the rushing waters, husbands who lost their wives, wives who lost their husbands, children who lost their parents, men who lost their livelihood in a matter of minutes, and friends who lost everyone they grew up with. The loss penetrated every home and every family in this region, which has become a second home to me.

Unlike the white, European family on vacation in Thailand, they didn’t get to leave the destruction behind and “go back home.” Though rebuilding has taken place and 8 years have now passed, my friends in the devastation area can never escape what happened on December 26, 2004. Everywhere and every day there are reminders. Holidays without family members, passing the many mass graves every day, wondering if the never_found bodies of their loved ones lie there, seeing where their old house once stood. There is no escaping the obliterated landscape. Its where they still live.

But Hollywood would never want to make a big screen picture about the locals who suffered that day. Westerners much prefer to see a story about people that look like them, live like them and in this case, have a way better accent than I do, Naomi Watts. Because those are the shoes we can see ourselves in, and that is how most people want to view the world, from our own perspective. We can’t really relate to what the locals went through, or how their lives were turned completely upside down and inside out on that fateful day. After all, when it comes to the movies, that wouldn’t be entertainment.

When I talked with one local about their tsunami memories 8 years in to the disaster, they said, “I remember the silence.” The city was noisy that day, as it usually is, with the sounds of motorbikes, roosters, the Muslim call to prayer, people’s voices. And then when the water came, as it approached the city, you heard yells and cries for help followed by an immediate and seemingly permanent silence. It was as if someone had switched off a light. The silence that suddenly engulfed the city was so loud. I can never forget the silence.”

The tsunami of December 26, 2004 claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in a matter of minutes, and yet a very small fraction of them actually looked like those portrayed in this movie. Here is a picture of a real person whose life was impacted by the tsunami.

KJ8P6982Would you pay $8 to see a movie about how the tsunami affected this woman? A devout Muslim woman in a third world country who likely doesn’t even have a high school education, whose husband may be a fisherman, and may not have running water in her home? Like the white family, she was profoundly affected by the disaster. And yet, 8 years on, she has lived through unimaginable loss, seen rebuilding in her province and been forced to move on with her life. And yet there are some areas of her life which no new paint, bricks and redevelopment money can ever repair, and no Hollywood movie could ever adequately capture.

I don’t mean to minimize the trauma the family in The Impossible experienced on their exotic vacation, but a movie about the tsunami from the tourist’s perspective does not interest me, especially when the main characters are a family that looks and lives like mine. What a gross misrepresentation.

What Getting Typhoid Taught Me

photoI Need to Plan Ahead
I seriously lost my ability to be punctual when I lived overseas, and try as I may, I have never been able to quite get it back to where it probably needs to be to fit in and not make people mad at me in America. At least this time the only person I hurt really was myself. So what did I not do as I prepared to go to India for 9 days in mid October? Just forget to update my outdated typhoid vaccine, that’s all. Thankfully I have friends that are doctors that generously wrote me a prescription just in time. I finished my vaccine the day we left, not a week before we left like you’re supposed to. Mistake #1.
I Need to Change My Attitude
Besides my time insensitivity, why did I put off getting my vaccine? I didn’t think it was such a big deal if I never got around to it. When you have lived in the tropics and had to eliminate the possibility of malaria, typhoid or dengue every time you had a fever, you start to see these 3 as not a big deal, because…well…they’re… so… common! “If I get it, we’ll treat it,” was my really dumb thought process. These tropical diseases actually are a very big deal…yes, they are..Maybe this was my mistake #1, because if I had the right attitude to begin with, that vaccine would have been taken in plenty of time and I wouldn’t be writing this.
I Need to Remember Where I Am
India felt so wonderfully comfortable to me the moment I arrived, like I had been there 100 times. India and my beloved Southeast Asia felt so similar in too many ways I guess. So comfortable was I, so at home did I feel, that I did some dumb things…like brushing my teeth and rinsing my mouth out with tap water, not ensuring that all the water I was drinking was bottled, and forgetting to wash that papaya we bought at the market before I peeled and cut it (Sorry, Beth..) and then eating almost the whole thing because there ain’t nothing like a fresh papaya from asia..and who knows what else. Mistake #3, 4 and 5, and maybe 6, 7 and 8.
I Appreciate Quick and Cheap Access to Prescription Medicine When I Need it
Just like in Southeast Asia, in India you can go to a pharmacy and get prescription medication without a prescription, and for pennies too. That may sound really wrong, but it can be very helpful when you are very sick. And by the way America, I have one serious ‘shame on you’ for you for your unnecessarily high prescription drug prices!! But..back to the point. When you are sick, really really sick, and you have 16 hours of air travel between you and the States, you are really grateful you can get some drugs for the ride home. The first leg of our trip home was a 9 hour flight from Mumbai to London and I never got out of my seat even once..my coach seat, I was that asleep. Thank you India!
When You are Sick, There is No Place Like Home
I live just a few miles from the University of North Carolina Hospital, one of the best in the world, so when it was time to give in and get to the ER, it was a short drive. I realize how easily I could have been hospitalized in India, or, more importantly, I could have been my former teammate who got Typhoid in Southeast Asia. He had no hospital, no IV, and no antibiotics to get him better like I did. Jason, you are my typhoid hero. When you’re sicker than you ever thought possible, some people want their Mom, I just wanted to be in the States. But thankful as I was, as I lay in my hospital bed wondering if, when, and how I would ever feel better, I also thought about all of my friends back in SE Asia, especially my former house helper and dear friend Natalie. Why do I get to be in a private room with round the clock access to top notch medical care but if she were to get typhoid she would simply have to endure the suffering in her un air conditioned tin roof home and hope she would survive with no doctor to care for her and no IV fluids to ward off her dehydration? Why do I get such preferential treatment just because of where I was born? It isn’t fair. I also thought about Adoniram and Ann Judson. They suffered many tropical diseases as they labored for years in Myanmar. They suffered in their beds with mosquitoes swarming around them, in sweltering heat, without IVs, antibiotics, cable TV, a call button, or their family. When their only hope of recovery was leaving the country to convalesce, they didn’t have to board a jet, they had to board a ship. That would not have been a good option for this easily seasick lady.They boarded that ship knowing they would likely not survive the journey. Thinking about them gave me all the perspective I needed on what comparitively speaking didn’t seem like such a bad situation after all.
In the “Avoid the Phoid” Game, I Lose
I’m not the only one who should have taken all of this a lot more seriously. We had a good friend come out to visit us while we lived in SE Asia and he too forgot to get his typhoid vaccine. But unlike me, he was a little hesitant at certain restaurants and with certain foods while he was with us. Did I mention that he is a lot smarter than I am? Since he has a great sense of humor, he confessed that he was just trying to “avoid the phoid,” which became a running joke between us. The latest score in that game is Mike 1, Hilary 0.
My Life is NOT More Valuable Than Another’s
$16,762.96. That is what it cost to treat my typhoid in America. Plus a few rupees to buy the prescription drugs I got without a prescription in India to drug me for the flights back to the States. While I am beyond grateful for health insurance and that I live 10 mins from one of the best hospitals in the world, I can’t help but think about my loved ones in Southeast Asia. My life is NOT more valuable than theirs and yet when they get typhoid, the outcome is not always the same because they don’t have the same access to medical care that I do, nor the resources to pay for it 😦 How many lives could be saved with $16,000?! Wayyy more than just one 😦
Never Google “How Does Someone Get Typhoid?”
It will just make you feel worse.

Thank you, Dr. Lawless

During our three year term in SE Asia, our team hosted countless volunteers from the States. Although we were positioned on the literal other side of the world, with a 12 hour time difference and 2 days of air travel between us and America, people still came. It was a huge encouragement to our team, but one particular visit stood out to me and still does.

Dr. Chuck Lawless, at that time the Dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism at The Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY, was one of the volunteers who traveled to the other side of the world to work alongside our team, and one evening he offered to have a time of teaching for us. At my age, (weeks away from turning 50! WHAT) I have lost count of how many sermons I have heard over the course of my life, most of which I should be ashamed to say, I have since forgotten. But Dr. Lawless taught us something that night that deeply resonated in my soul and has stayed with me ever since. Though I have read many great books on spiritual warfare, and been trained by one of the best organizations in the world in how to deal with it, Dr. Lawless’ message is the one that has stuck and that I continue to apply to my life today.

Its something that we should all be mindful of, not just during seasons of discouragement, but maybe even especially when things are going well.

“Satan is constantly trying to get you to do one of four things,” Dr. Lawless taught us. “He wants you to give up, shut up, puff up, or mess up.”

Think about that..Do any of these thought patterns sound familiar?

Give up
“This life is so hard. These people are so content to remain the way they are, they will never believe. I can’t do this anymore. This just isn’t worth it. These people aren’t worth it. How long have we been here and not seen any fruit? If only I was back in the States…”

Shut Up
“I’m afraid to share the Truth. I could get arrested. I could get kicked out of the country. I could jeopardize my whole team’s ability to be here. My language isn’t good enough. What if I say the wrong thing? What if they ask me a question I can’t answer? What if they don’t want to be my friend anymore after I share Truth with them? Someone else will tell them.”

Puff Up
“I’m awesome at this. Thank goodness they met me so they could hear the Truth. Without me here, no one would believe.  I am the most valuable member of this team. At least I take this seriously. God must be glad that I am here and on His team. I gave up so much to be here. I am a hero.”

Mess Up
“Oh I deserve a little break, soo one will notice if I … I’ve been having romantic thoughts about  <a person you are not married to> a lot. Internet porn doesn’t hurt anyone because its not real. I just need a little release from all the stress. It isn’t hurting anyone. One sip doesn’t mean I have a problem. No one has to know I…”

Dr. Lawless was right. Spiritual attack is a constant for the believer, especially one actively engaged in the mission of God. But identifying these four aeas of how Satan most commonly attacks has helped me point my finger to the problem during my own times of attack and see it for what it is…an attack by a defeated foe. It doesn’t make his attacks any less annoying or persistent, it just reminds me who is really behind my thought process and that helps me re-claim my identity in Christ.

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord, your labor is not in vain.” (1 Cor 15: 57-58 ESV)

Thank you, Dr. Lawless.