COUNTING THE COST
“I’ve worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death’s door time after time...In hard traveling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country...I’ve known drudgery and hard labor, many long and lonely nights without sleep, many missed meals...And that’s not the half of it, when you throw in the daily pressures and anxieties of all the churches. When someone gets to the end of his rope, I feel desperation in my bones. When someone is duped into sin, an angry fire burns in my gut.”
2 Cor. 11:23-29 (Msg version)
As I read these verses from Paul’s experience, not only could I relate to many of what he described physically and emotionally, but I could also imagine and empathize with the many missionaries we’ve served over the years that went through these same experiences. As they’ve poured out their stories to myself, our debriefers and counselors, with all the hardships and sacrifices that came with living cross culturally, with all the traumas and thankless menial tasks; they’ve never regretted being sent out, but found instead a deep connection with our Lord Jesus in their suffering. I count myself privileged that the Lord has put me in a position to wash the feet of these servants of Christ who has chosen to bring the good news of the Kingdom of God into the outer most parts of the world. Every counseling session or debriefing I’ve had the privilege of doing, not only did I not leave the room with tears of joy and empathy, but my faith renewed in Jesus who is faithful to turn ashes into beauty.
Many have asked in the past, when my wife and I were in the mission field, with all the hardships we’ve gone through, grief, suffering and traumas. Why did we keep going back? Was it worth it? Why did we put ourselves in this situation? The only thing we could respond back then, was that, we were compelled in our hearts to bring the good news and restoration to the people God has placed in our hearts to love. This love that I can only fathom comes from God, made us feel that what we did was not so much a sacrifice, but we experienced the joy of doing what we loved doing and being with the people we fell in love with. In saying that, the cost was high for us and still remains high for most missionaries who dares to answer God’s call to cross cultural missions. Now that I find myself on the other side of missions, I am compelled to care for the missionaries that God is sending out to the world, that they may continue to bring this message of true freedom, healing and restoration to the broken, and be healthy about it. There are those that God will compel to go out and suffer, they’ve realized the cost and are willing to do it for the love of God and those who are suffering. And there are those God will compel to care for the missionaries, to sustain them through their suffering. This is the work of the body of Christ, that the world may know we are His disciples by the love we have for one another.
It is precisely this kind of love was demonstrated by the women of Northside Baptist Church at St. Petersburg, Florida in the Grace class taught by Ms. Vickie Lohmann. Over the years these ladies faithfully supported the work we do with missionary families. In many cases when there were financial needs and volunteer help needed for the missionary kids retreat or spring break, they were first in line to provide. It always humbled us as staff and the kids, who were recipients of this amazing love, of the sacrifice these ladies made to meet these needs. Another testament of Christ’s love among His disciples, when we first got the Ruth House for women missionary kids, many volunteers from Tampa Covenant Church rolled up their sleeves to clean, decorate and landscape the property. What was impactful for me was the genuine care and sense of hospitality both groups showed to make the kids feel they belonged. Also, in these last few years we’ve seen this ministry grow through the faithful donations of many missionaries that received services from us and missionary kids from around the world who wanted to see their fellow MK’s get the healing needed to thrive in their lives. Many missionary families were blessed, felt healed, renewed and energized over the years because of our wonderful community here in the Tampa Bay Area and around the world.
Thank you for your partnership and for standing in the gap through prayers, finances, skills, talents, labor and hospitality. Without your support Compass Ministries would not exists, and one less affordable service provider for missionary families doing good work in the world. Thank you for being part of the team that cares for the feet that brings good news to the world.