Generations collide on the mission field today, like they do all over the world, I guess. The differences in the ways we view the world, the way we do life, the way we engage in other cultures can be leagues apart from those 25 years older, or younger, than ourselves. And oftentimes an error the younger crowd makes is in a sweeping dismissal of the wisdom and experience of those who’ve walked with Christ for decades. The following story is one I remember during my first year overseas in SE Asia. It’s a reminder to me still, as it was that morning, of the legacy so many seasoned missionaries are leaving behind them.
Today I had the gift of watching what brought the Sunday crowd to its feet.
And it wasn’t the praise chorus that I had sung at InterVarsity in college, now sung by a group of expats on foreign soil. And it wasn’t the excellent sermon on the faith of Abraham. It wasn’t the song about God’s beauty or the one about our need to worship him.
It was a hymn– an old tune my own mama used to sing to us and one we’d sung in the church-of-my-roots in North Carolina. It’s a song largely forgotten by the post-modernish church culture Matt and I gravitate towards; its the kind of song with 16 verses and words that remind you of Old England.
This morning, though, I remembered the goodness of those who’ve gone before, because when the first notes of Great is Thy Faithfulness began to play, the seasoned warriors rose to their feet–
unprompted, spontaneous, unified.
I looked around as these veterans of the mission field declared to God, together, “All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided,”
and I cried for the power of it.
Because these older, wiser souls had left home and family before the convenience of Skype and email. These men and women have hacked out a life overseas, and have stuck– for years, not just months. They have lived in the realjungles and have said many more goodbyes than these lips have uttered. They have been weathered by the winds and fires of a life-laid-down and have tasted Stranger over, and over, and over again.
I felt like I was a child among giants.
And I was reminded, by the simultaneous rising, that the song that made them stand,
is a Truth that has enable them to.
“Great is Thy faithfulness, O God My Father.
There is no shadow of turning with Thee.
Thou Changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not.
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.
Great is Thy Faithfulness, Great is Thy faithfulness.
Morning by morning, New mercies I see.
All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided.
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.”
What wisdom have you gained from a seasoned missionary? Stories to share?
– Laura Parker, Former aid worker in SE Asia