Some of my readers have been asking for more glimpses into our personal day to day lives as missionaries. Currently our family is enjoying the privilege of a few weeks furlough this summer. Furlough, is a missions term meaning a break from ministry on your field, during which time you normally return to your sending country to report to those who support you in the work. The following are thoughts that overflowed from my heart recently on our first Sunday stateside:
Sunday Morning on the Field
I have looked forward to this Sunday morning for several months. It was to be our first Sunday morning of furlough, the first Sunday in the United States in three years.
You see, on the mission field, our worship atmosphere is unfinished rooms with no air conditioning, necessitating that the windows be left open for airflow (but inevitably there is dust too). Oft times we’re even in an open air setting, sweating before the service even begins. We teach/preach to audiences in folding chairs or makeshift benches. Our fellow worshippers are generally mainly children from extremely low income homes, who come disheveled and dirty, but happy to be there. And our own children generally do not come home as clean as we took them. And our music is often acapella.
Sunday Morning Stateside
So, if you were to peak inside my brain this morning, you would have seen me relishing in the pleasure of plush carpets, expensive glossy-finished furniture, padded pews and the climate controlled atmosphere I found myself worshipping in. I sat, one worshipper, in a crowd of people both older and younger than myself who all appeared pressed, well dressed, and with immaculate hair, pedicures and makeup. There didn’t appear to be a speck of dirt or lint anywhere and even the ceilings of the Sunday school rooms bespoke wealth and comfort. And the choir and instrumental accompaniment brought tears to my eyes.
Is it more possible to worship in this kind of surroundings? Is there a special dose of God that comes with plush carpets, or children in clean, pressed clothes? No, I don’t think so.
Then “What was so special?” you ask.
The contrast overwhelmed me. The blessing of knowing that God is no respecter of persons or buildings, and the privilege of having worshipped the Lord in both atmospheres completely filled and overflowed my heart.
There were not many others, I’m sure, who noticed the carpets or the ceilings this morning. Did you?
The next time you walk into your church and see the freshly vacuumed carpet or the couch sitting invitingly in the lobby, or the fancy side table in the restroom, or the projector showing announcements before the service, would you let it remind you to stop and pray for your missionaries who are preaching the Word and encouraging hearts without all of that? Would you
- Pray that God would provide for your missionaries all the things they need to most effectively serve Him where they are.
- Pray that God’s presence would be real to your missionaries and His blessings abundant in their lives and their ministries today.
- Pray that your missionaries, whether teaching or listening, would also enjoy the blessing of worshipping Him today.
- Pray that these things would not keep you from worship, nor be an obstacle to your recognizing the mission field around you every day.