It has humbled and overwhelmed me, knowing that people are praying for work of our Father to be done through me and the Beirut team that will be leaving June 18. I’m not sure how to process everything properly and it seems as if words flow from my mind faster than my fingers can type.
Katie, just shut your mouth and listen.
A couple weeks ago, I had just finished up “Cross-Cultural Servanthood” by Duane Elmer, received the Typhoid and Hepatitis vaccination, and learned some conversational Arabic, but I still felt nervous. I felt small. There are millions of Syrian refugees, and I am one person. Most of all, I was worried about being in a new culture. What if I offended someone? What if I am culturally insensitive towards a Lebanese brother or sister? These questions seemed to haunt me for days.
I felt inadequate. And that is when He reminded me of His perfect strength.
I received a letter from a dear friend and his wife informing me that they had received my support letter in the mail.
Not only did he write that he had donated money to my trip funds, but he also encouraged me to “Ask God to help you see and to feel what He does. Ask Him to make you a living example of His power and love, to encourage Christians, and to introduce others to His reconciling grace.”
It struck me that I am not defined by my success to win people into the kingdom of Christ, but rather, I am called to observe Lebanon with tender eyes and a hurting heart, much like the one God has for these Syrian individuals living in Lebanon.
This is a ministry of presence.
If we go on a mission with the sole purpose to be a hero that wins individuals into the kingdom of God, we have clearly missed the point.
Mission trips are designed for us to love individuals, to listen to and serve them, just as Jesus Christ has done for us. Just as we serve them, we must be open to being served. If a family or individual offers a gesture of hospitality, receive it with grace and warmth.
After God revealed that to me, the pressure to convert Syrian refugees, left me. I was free from the pressure to be the one that “saved” them. He doesn’t ask us for our short-lived spasms of passion to be thrown at victims of injustice, but rather, our long-term obedience and patience to His will and to His people.
A person going into a ministry of presence must have patience to wait for change, for acceptance into another culture, and for justice to be restored among a community.
Let God use your weakness, failures and shortcomings.
God uses our weakness. Yes, He uses it. He doesn’t work around it or in spite of it, but rather through it.
In fact, His strength is seen most prominently through my weakness as stated in 2nd Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
We are not defined by our success or failures, and neither is God. His character and very being is not based on our performance. Whether we fail or succeed, God’s power, love, beauty and goodness remains unchanged.
This is why I no longer pray that I “do well”, but rather whether I fail or succeed, His glory, love and grace will be prominently displayed in me.
My prayer for you who are reading this post, that you will trust the strength of our Father to be made perfect today in your many weaknesses.