One of the Reasons Why I Love Being With Church Planters

“O God! Thou hast made us for Thyself and our souls are restless, searching, til they find their rest in Thee.” St. Augustine

Curt and I spent this past weekend with some great friends, Peter and Jennie, who have served the Lord in Southeast Asia for many years. We first met them as we were preparing to move overseas back in 2006 and they’ve been a huge encouragement to us ever since. We’re great friends, but more importantly, we’re family.

There is something about being with other “sent out ones” that makes them my very favorite kinds of people to spend time with. There is an indescribable instant bonding that happens in our hearts that doesn’t happen in the course of how traditional friendships typically develop. I have tried to explain this before and always seem to fall short. It really is supernatural when God yokes hearts together.

But, today I came across some notes I took after I read, “A Shepherd’s Look at Psalm 23” by Phillip Keller, and in doing so found a beautiful description of why I love being with Peter and Jennie so much.

“I have known some of the wealthiest men on this continent intimately – also leading scientists and professional people. Despite their dazzling outward show of success, despite their affluence and their prestige, they remained poor in Spirit, shriveled in soul and unhappy in life. They were joyless people held in the iron grip and heartless ownership of the wrong master. By way of contrast, I have numerous friends among relatively poor people, people who have known hardship, disaster, and who struggle to stay afloat financially. But because they belong to Christ, and have recognized Him as Lord and Master of their lives, their owner and manager, they are permeated by a deep, quiet, settled peace that is beautiful to behold. It is indeed a delight to visit some of these humble homes where men and women are rich in spirit, generous in heart, and large of soul. They radiate a serene confidence and quiet joy that surmounts all the tragedies of their time. They are under God’s care and they know it. They have entrusted themselves to Christ’s control and found contentment.”

The Glad Surrender

Ann Hasseltine Judson of Bradford, Massachusetts, was the first American woman missionary to go overseas. In 1812, she and her husband, Adoniram Judson, boarded a ship bound for Asia, to take the Gospel to a place where Christ was not known. Ann would serve the Lord alongside Adoniram in Burma (modern day Myanmar) until her death in 1826.

When Adoniram proposed, with the understanding that she would live the rest of her life “in a heathen land,” it is clear from her diaries that she wrestled for several weeks with the reality of what her life would be like as she considered his offer. Although she had the support of her parents, her own heart for missions, and clearly loved Mr. Judson, it was still a difficult decision as she wisely counted the cost. I love the following excerpt from her diary as, after weeks of uncertainty, she lays down her life in wholehearted surrender for the sake of the Gospel…

“My mind has still been agitated for two or three weeks past, in regard to the above-mentioned subject (the proposal and subsequent “offer” to live among “the heathen” overseas). But I have, at all times, felt a disposition to leave it with God, and trust in Him to direct me. I have at length, come to the conclusion, that if nothing in providence appears to prevent, I must spend my days in a heathen land. I am a creature of God, and He has an undoubted right to do with me, as seemeth good in His sight. I rejoice, that I am in His hands – that He is every where present, and can protect me in one place as well as in another.

He has my heart in His hands, and when I am called to face danger, to pass through scenes of terror and distress, He can inspire me with fortitude, and enable me to trust in Him. Jesus is faithful; His promises are precious. Were it not for these considerations, I should with my present prospects sink down in despair, especially as no female has, to my knowledge, ever left the shores of America, to spend her life among the heathen; nor do I yet know, that I shall have a single female companion.

But God is my witness, that I have not dared to decline the offer that has been made me, though so many are ready to call it a ‘wild romantic undertaking.’ If I have been deceived in thinking it my duty to go to the heathen, I humbly pray, that I may be undeceived, and prevented from going.

But whether I spend my days in India or America, I desire to spend them in the service of God, and be prepared to spend an eternity in His presence. O Jesus, make me live to thee, and I desire no more.”