Tuesday, May 17, 2016

He Directs My Path

Karen Rickel, Retiree, Honduras
April-June 2016

Karen and her Honduran familyProverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV) says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” I learned this verse as a child, and it has encouraged me many times when unexpected changes have occurred in my life. Whether I have faced a change in my ministry, such as a new assignment, or a personal crisis, such as an illness or family concerns, I’ve found my faith growing stronger when I remember that God is in control. That has never been truer than it is now when I am in the United States on a medical leave rather than in Honduras.

I was diagnosed with uterine cancer in November 2011. I came to the U.S. for treatment, which included surgery, chemo, and radiation. By the fall of 2012, I was able to return to Honduras believing that, other than having frequent checkups to be sure everything was fine, my cancer battle was over. So when a biopsy in October 2013 confirmed a diagnosis of stage four metastatic uterine cancer, I was shocked. I needed to stay in the U.S. indefinitely for treatment. The doctor explained that she could give me treatments to prolong my life, but that there was no cure. 

Suddenly everything seemed out of control. I had no idea if I would live for a few months or a few years, or if God would choose to heal me. I knew He could heal, but was that His will for me? Those verses from Proverbs took on new meaning as I realized God was giving me a new assignment. This is not one that I would have chosen, but it is one I am convinced He is trusting me with.

Transitioning back to the U.S. after living overseas for more than 30 years was a difficult task. Evidently I’d adapted to the Honduran culture much more than I had realized. The culture there is based on relationships, and I was used to having neighbors I would see and talk to every day. Here, I rarely see my neighbors, and I’ve had to work at it to get acquainted with some of them. I felt a real sense of loss. I missed my work, my church, and my missionary family. Also, not having my foster son, Toroni, with me was very hard. He had lived with me for more than 11 years, and I knew he missed his mama. Maybe almost as much as I missed him!

But during this time, God has shown me His love through the many people who, over the years, have not only become ministry partners, but friends. I’ve received many cards, phone calls, and emails assuring me of their prayers for me and my healing. I am encouraged knowing I am not in this battle by myself. Three of my siblings and their families live in the area, so I am blessed by their presence and support. Gifts of money to meet financial needs have arrived just when I’ve needed them. I am involved in the same church my siblings attend and enjoy fellowshipping with them—something I wasn’t able to do while on the mission field. I also volunteer one afternoon each week at our local Pregnancy Help Center, a ministry I really enjoy.

I’ve come to realize that I am right where God wants me at this time in my life. He has once again changed my place of residence and ministry, but He isn’t finished with me yet. I’m so thankful for the lessons He is teaching me each day. My faith is becoming stronger as I see Him meeting all my needs and those of my son in Honduras. I’m not sure what the future holds, but I know my life is in God’s very capable hands. I am trusting Him as He continues to direct my paths. 

Encourage a someone today.  ACT: Did God bring someone else to your mind as you read Karen’s testimony? Send them a note of encouragement, pray with them over the phone, or bless them with a financial gift to help with ongoing medical costs.

GiveGIVE: Rising medical costs are a challenge to WGM’s self-funded medical plan. You can help provide medical coverage for  missionaries and staff with a financial gift. Make checks payable to World Gospel Mission with account #41090 on the memo line. Send check donations to World Gospel Mission, P.O. Box 948, Marion, Indiana  46952-0948.
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