I have been processing this idea for quite a few months. When we first returned to the States for our time of rest and refreshment, we also knew that this year was a chance for us to pray about our future and whether we could/should return to South Sudan as a family, even in the country's unstable and more dangerous state.
During the first months after the fighting started in South Sudan my main question was: Should we really go back into South Sudan, specifically Upper Nile State which seems to be the most volatile area due to the fact that it is the homeland of the two warring tribes.
But as we have prayed and asked God for wisdom, I have realized a few, very key things.
1. It is a lie that we feed ourselves that we should not have to suffer.
2. Our calling hasn't changed just because circumstances have changed.
3. We are not in the business of saving ourselves, (our lives) but of God saving others.
Think of this verse, ponder it for a little while - Matthew 10:39 ---
" If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it."
Arthur Mathews, a missionary to China during the 1940's said, "We tend to look at the circumstances of life in terms of what they may do to our cherished hopes and convenience, and we shape our decisions and reactions accordingly. When a problem threatens, we rush to God, not to seek His perspective, but to ask him to deflect the trouble. Our self-concern takes priority over whatever it is that God might be trying to do through the trouble..."
If we don't trust the heart and intentions of God, we will naturally resist suffering.
So as William Law, a Puritan author from the 1600's exhorted: "Receive every inward an outward trouble, every disappointment, pain, uneasiness, temptation, darkness, and desolation, with both thy hands, as a true opportunity and blessed occasion of dying to self, and entering into a fuller fellowship with they self-denying, suffering Savior."
We say we want to be like Jesus and then we resist the very instrument God chooses to fulfill that desire! In the book of 1 Peter, Peter even went so far as to say that suffering IS our calling - not just for missionaries or apostles or people in the ministry but for every follower of Jesus! Look at 1 Peter 2:21 written at the top of this blog.
Eli and I continue to wrestle with many thoughts and questions but in the depth of our hearts we have peace because we know God holds our family of five in His strong, very capable hands. Will you pray for us specifically in the month of November? In November we plan to decide what we will do and where we will go in this next term of ministry among the Southern Sudanese people. We know that as we come together to seek the Lord, He WILL lead us.