“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had” (Romans 15:5 NIV).
Sometimes it takes a heaping measure of grace to live on a foreign mission station. I didn’t get the hang of it in the beginning, but failure can be the back door to success.
My husband, Bob, our 1-year-old daughter, Dawn, and I first arrived in Kenya in 1967. As we faced challenges, some memories stand out, specifically in areas of obeying authority, loving your neighbor, and “keeping up with the Joneses.”
One day, Bob had come home from a long day at the hospital, and I was giving vent to a list of frustrations. As I paused for a breath, Bob, known for his one-liners, said, “You are saying you know how to run the mission better than the mission leaders.” Totally shocked, I thought it over. I was even more shocked to realize it was true–not that I could run things better than the leaders but that I thought I could.
A new missionary had arrived on the field. His ideas were different, feathers were ruffled, and there were some unflattering comments made. During a chapel service at a retreat, this strong impression came to mind: “Do you want him to accept you just as you are, with all your faults?” Well, yes; I hadn’t thought about that before. “Then accept him just as he is with all of his faults.” I applied that lesson many times in the years that followed.
One day, the door flew open; our little toddler spread her hands out wide and in great frustration asked, “WHERE is my little red wagon?” Oh! We had brought dolls and lots of games but NO red wagon. However, since a neighbor’s child had one, Dawn wanted one, too! We all needed to learn about finding contentment in what we had.
I learned to thank God that I didn’t have to worry about running the mission, and I marveled at leaders who were exercising their gifts of administration, of which I have none.
Today, some of my dearest friends are “old” retired missionaries as well as wonderful new “young” missionaries on the field. I am eternally grateful that God brought us together. I am also coming closer to learning to be content in all things. Being a missionary brought the greatest joys of my life. I love The One who taught me how.
ACT: Have your feathers been ruffled? Are you living in discontent? Do you need to repair your attitude toward your community? Take time this month to dig deeper into God’s Word and put into action His direction. Here is a good resource to get you started.