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The Ideal Ministry

When you head overseas on your first assignment, you tend to be full of grand ideals. At least, I was. I was ready to do anything and everything for the Lord––teach underprivileged children, feed the poor, develop relationships with nationals, disciple new and growing Christians.

Eight years into this overseas missionary thing, I can’t say my reality has looked very similar to my pre-overseas dreams. I have done all those things I once imagined doing––taught English to neighborhood children, given bags of food to beggars at my door, made friendships with nationals, encouraged other believers in their walks. In fact, I continue to do all those things but not to the extent I once dreamed. More often than not, I’m struggling just to teach my own children (we homeschool), keep my own family fed, support and encourage my husband, and disciple and discipline my little girls.

IndonesiaThe need outside my front door is very real and very raw, but the need inside our own home has turned out to be just as genuine. I’ve had to learn how to balance the needs of my family with the needs of the people I came here to serve. It isn’t always easy and I regularly feel like I’m somehow failing somebody when my energy runs out. Those pre-overseas ideals have begun to haunt me.

Recently, we had a special guest––a dear friend that I admire who serves as a missionary with another organization. As we lingered over coffee before she left to teach her seminar, I mentioned my struggle and how I feel like I’m not really doing as much as I should. A few days after she left, I received an email from my friend. “Don’t allow yourself to get boxed in by what you think you should be able to do,” she wrote. “God’s given you a full time job being a mom and wife and you do both incredibly well.”

God used this dear friend to remind me of a vital truth––while I may see my ministry in the home as less important than the ministry outside the front door, God certainly doesn’t see it that way. He is more concerned with my faithfulness to Him. For this season, much of my ministry stays in the home with only a little bit of overflow left for the occasional English student or discipleship moment. It looks different than what I’d once dreamed, but it is exactly as my Father in Heaven wants it to be.

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