As a short-term missionary, you will find suffering.
You will find brokenness.
How can we ever be equipped?
Your mindset as a short-term missionary needs to reflect your embrace of God’s sovereignty and His grace. You must recognize that you are stepping into communities with struggles… hence the need for missionaries.
As you partner with full-time missionaries you will come to understand the abundant needs in the community.
You are entering their story, immersing yourself into the lives of the community. You probably even prayed for the Lord to soften your heart to the needs of these children and their families.
Your Experiences Count
Pause and consider the suffering you personally have encountered at home.
You probably struggled at some time. Your friends have suffered in their own journeys….
- Physical injuries
- Depression, anxiety, obsessions
- Financial crises and their heavy burdens
Some years ago, I walked alongside one of our students through a most difficult time. She had been sexually violated. I walked with her through court proceedings and conversations over sodas. I listened. We talked. I listened more. An intense sadness consumed my soul.
Reverberating through my being were the questions: “Why was Jesus not enough?” “Where was He in this young lady’s life?”
Bit by little bit, I came to realize that I and our church had become His hands, feet, and ears as soon as we learned of the situation. Arm-in-arm we walked the path. Today this beautiful young lady is strong and determined and full of faith in our Lord!
Her horrific trauma taught me about suffering, perseverance, and then … hope.
The load is too heavy for any one of us to bear. But everyone of us have something to offer.
Reaching Out through Your Experiences
As you serve on your mission, you will help others move from suffering toward hope.
Despite the struggles you find on the mission field, you will walk for a time with the children and families. You will inch them toward hope.
According to Paul in Romans 5:3-4, “we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
Suffering is part of the path. Let’s walk it tenderly and humbly.
Steps to Move From Suffering to Hope
1) Listen. Jesus told huge crowds to “weep with those who weep” and “mourn with those who mourn.” On the mission field, do the same. Hear the stories. Pray with the children, their caregivers, adults, and friends.
2) Focus outward. Your needs for extra food, water, sleep and comfort are not the priority during your ministry day. Stay prayerfully and constantly focused on Christ and the community where you are serving.
Then back at the your lodging facility and during your evening debrief, these are your times to be filled. Worship with your team, immerse yourself in the Word, talk with fellow team members, wrestle in prayer with God. Refresh. Renew.
3) Give the gospel message. Every Orphan’s Hope is Jesus Christ. He alone offers the hope everlasting that we all need. Share this gospel message with clarity. He is the Living Water, Jehovah Jireh, Provider, Comforter!
4) Connect them with the full-time missionaries and the local church. You will return home. The on-site missionaries and partner churches will continue what you began. They will walk alongside the children and families in the community. Their relationships will deepen as the journey continues and perseverance grows.
And, yes, hope follows perseverance.
One final note...
Final Question: Where was God in the children’s suffering? Where was God in your mission community’s struggles?
Final Answer: He was there… amidst every teardrop, every hurt, every prayer. AND, he was rallying His people. You. Your hands and feet and ears and voice are His response. Thank you for serving.
Posted by Sharon R. Hoover
photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography via photo pin cc
Our daughter just left for a short term missions tript to the Dominican Republic with her youth group. I will show her your blog when she gets back in ten days. I really enjoyed reading this.
“Bit by little bit, I came to realize that I and our church had become His hands, feet, and ears as soon as we learned of the situation. Arm-in-arm we walked the path. Today this beautiful young lady is strong and determined and full of faith in our Lord!”
We are the body of Christ. We are His hands, feet, ears, His very heart.
Thanks for sharing~
Sharon R Hoover says
Hi Tweeny! I will be praying for your daughter and her mission team this week! May the Lord work abundantly in and through the entire team. Thanks so much for sharing your comments. I’m delighted that you enjoyed this article. God does indeed work through all of us … in ALL areas of the world!