Discover more from Refreshing the Bones...
Réveille - from the French word for "wake up"
Prelude to the Prelude: Here is the link to a recent blog about how the Lord found us: OUR CONVERSION STORY
What follows will be the rest of our story:
What made us tick?
Our vision and philosophy of ministry.
What real life in the thick of it looked and felt like.
Our challenge to the next generation: Be a Pioneer!
I’ve prepared a few installments and I’m working on more. Even if I end up including them in a book, it might be better to start posting them on my blog now. Two reasons:
A book published by an unknown author (me) is like publishing in a barrel... maybe a handful of people will see it. Posting installments on my blog might gain a little more exposure.
I’m three days shy of my 72nd birthday. If I have something to say, sooner is better than later… in case there’s no later.
These thoughts have congealed over a period of nearly 50 years as a believer in Jesus Christ, more than 40 of which were lived in full time ministry outside of the United States (Central America and Mexico).
February, 2015… My first wife Linda went to heaven from Cancun, Mexico, where we lived the last 33 years of her life. From time to time during her last years—even with her struggle with dementia—she would get that gleam in her eye and say “You know…”—and I knew some variation of the following was coming—“You know… we did it. Lots of people didn’t. We wanted to live for something bigger than ourselves. We followed our dream of serving the Lord.” To which I would eloquently respond, “yes, we did.”
Also during the same time frame… usually when getting tucked into bed at night, she would occasionally say, “when I go, please carry on with our ministry… find someone to marry… and be happy.” To which I would respond, “and if I go first, you do the same!”
October, 2018… Carol and I married. Linda would have been pleased, but I don’t think she made it happen. I certainly didn’t. So, it must have been providential. Our love for Jesus and our lives as missionaries in other countries (Mexico and Japan) brought Carol and me together.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8, ESV)
Because Jesus saved us—and because we had lived out the Gospel mandate, we were made ready for this intersection when we came to it.
Still no regrets.
All that to say, I’m thankful for the trajectory of my life, past and present. I marvel at the grace of God. We started so green… so set in ways that needed broken and rebuilt from scratch… so many mistakes and inadequacies. But I do try to remember: the Gospel is perfect, while its human messengers never are. God knew this long before he entrusted us with his “ministry of reconciliation.” (2Corinthians 5:18)
In other words, my thoughts shared here come not from regret over wishing things had been different. I write from a heart of passion and love for the Lord’s work… and for precious laborers in his vineyard. I write as a voice of experience in the very limited areas in which I accumulated experience.
The word “missionary” is not my favorite word to describe who I am. Its usage today points to a lot of things I’ve never been and never done. It’s used by a lot of people who haven’t tried to do what I tried to do. I would rather people knew me more specifically as a church planter who took his vision and calling into another country and language. The vision and calling would not have been different had I stayed in the United States my whole life.
We left the United States unseasoned for what lay ahead. We started from scratch in ministry. We attempted to start a church from scratch in new, unfamiliar territory.
One principle learned slowly in our early years was what we came to define as: See a need—meet a need. Perceiving a genuine need in the Lord’s work requires more than a call to a church’s complaint hotline or a rant in a deacon’s meeting. If the perception of a deficiency is legitimate, it comes with a call to serve in that area. It’s a package deal.
My quandary at this juncture in my life is how to find fruitful ways to contribute where, in my mind, the need is alarming.
Missions is not the priority it should be. It looks like something tacked on… an afterthought… a token gesture, a feel-good hobby. The contrast between what churches usually do for missionaries compared to what missionaries are expected to do for churches is criminal.
There is a lack of vision regarding our children. Seldom—if ever—do they see one of their own break out of the mold and walk far away with Jesus… with only lost souls and building God’s kingdom on their hearts. Seldom do they receive encouragement from Mom and Dad beyond, “Don’t leave us!”
Not long ago, I wrote a blog called “Glue Factory Near Me”. A little sarcastic, I know, but older folks like me tend to feel put out to pasture—or sold to the glue factory—long before we’re ready for it. And as for veteran missionaries… well…
For a while, I dreamt about conducting workshops to encourage a sharper vision and talk about the weak spots—there are many—in the way most of us do missions. Since it would require a network of pastors/churches predisposed to the idea—and since my networking skills are nil—probably not a realistic dream. Plus, I confess… when I think about itinerating, it starts to feel more like an introvert’s nightmare… like a walking tour of Purgatory.
I started to write what I thought would be a book about it. But the breadth of such a project was overwhelming… and honestly, I couldn’t see how it would distinguish itself from bunches of excellent books already out there on the subject.
So here goes… my attempt to put into words what I dedicated my entire adult life to… the things I am still the most passionate about. I stopped caring about building a platform or developing marketing skills. I’m not selling anything.
Simply put, here is my story… here is my heart. If it nudges someone toward a sharper vision and deeper engagement with God’s kingdom work… if it kindles a pioneering passion in another heart… I will consider my time invested in this a small price to pay.