You All Right?

The whitewashed staircase looms before her. She hesitates and tries to calm her elevated heart rate, “Breathe. You’ve done this before. It’s going to be ok.” But is it really? It’s been so long since she has stepped foot in such a place. Mixed emotions swirl as her foot slowly steps on the first stair.

On the other side of town another thirty-something, also motivated by guilt, stands before a different edifice staircase. She postponed this defining moment, not knowing if she would be accepted. Her heart races, as well, as she digs deep searching for courage. Her hand catches the rail to steady her slightly week knees.

The two women share a common fear: is it going to be all right? Past experiences berate their minds and cloud their choices. They know the correct thing to do; but the thought of following through seems too great to bear.

They may have shared fears, yet set before them are very different prospects. One woman is standing before a gym, the other before a church. Both ask themselves if it is worth it. Both scrutinize themselves as past hurts and failures berate their subconscious.

Both choose to enter.

The first woman receives with her gym membership a complementary medical evaluation. At the end of the appointment the doctor smiles and tells her that she should continue with the exercise and a healthy diet. Then he says the words that bring relief to her worried mind, “You are in the normal range with all the examinations we performed.” She makes him repeat himself to be sure she heard correctly. In other words it is going to be ok. She is ok. Normal. Acceptable.

The second woman climbs the steps to the church building. She arrives late in hopes to hide in the back. She bends her head in shame. Maybe they will mistake the shameful posture for reverence, she hopes. The back row also affords a quick escape. Then a phrase in the message catches her attention. She pulls her head up so as to be sure she heard correctly. Is this man saying the truth? Amidst all her faults, shortcomings, and blatant sin, she is loved? Yes, that is what he is saying. God chose her, called her precious, and loved her. In other words it is going to be ok. She is ok. Normal. Acceptable.

The first woman’s fears were calmed when she learned that things she had done placed her in an acceptable rank. Deeds saved this lady’s self worth.

The second woman’s fears were calmed when she learned of an all-powerful love which covered her past deeds. The deeds of One offered this lady complete salvation.

Where do you find your sense of self worth? Do you find yourself trying to ‘be enough’ or ‘do enough’ to be accepted? When was the last time you deliberately extended the grace of God to someone else? To yourself?

——————————————

– Angie Washington【BFRS-3K-901RW】富士工業 レンジフード 換気扇 ホワイト, missionary living in Bolivia###INAX 洗面化粧台【MAJX2-602TZJU】ミラーキャビネット アジャストミラー LED照明 2面鏡 全収納 間口600mm くもり止めコート付, South America

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Avoiding the Missionary Kid Syndrome

We’ve all heard horror stories of P.K.’s (Pastors Kids), M.K.’s (Missionary Kids), and W.K.’s (Whatever other ministry oriented kid turned out bad).

While my wife and I have a long way to go to declare success, here are some things we have been practicing to keep missions appealing.

1. Priorities
I can hear all the above mentioned K’s shouting “Amen”. Most families with the dreaded K syndrome, are linked to more time, energy, and focus being placed on ministry than family. It’s fashionable to say “family first”, but much harder to live that out. It will require making sacrifices, many schedules, and constantly re-evaluating the season your family is in.

Missionary Family
By: Andrew Comings

Billy Graham, when looking back over his life and ministry, had one regret. He wished to have spent more time with his family. You can read about it in his autobiography, “Just As I Am”

2. Boundaries
Going hand in hand with priorities, is making decisions to keep boundaries. Since our children are young, we have made the decision for only one of us to attend evening meetings. We want to place a priority on the boy’s routine. This also gives each one of us the chance to have some quality time with the two boys before bed.

There are little choices that need to be made like this each day. Your checklist never gets fully accomplished, so something has to give. I recently read a book by Andy Stanley I bought in response to his leadership podcast. In Choosing to Cheat, Andy shows how everyone cheats. You will either rob your family of time or you will create that time by trimming things in your ministry.

3. Involve them
Seemingly contradicting a previous point, this is the balancing act of parenting. Our kids love being involved in the ministry. They recite testimonies from our weekly staff meetings, know the people we work with, and put their faith with ours when we dream bigger than ourselves.

My wife was a pastor’s kid when she was growing up (still is actually). She recounts with fondness sitting at the top of the stairs, eavesdropping on board meetings. Her father was excellent at involving her, even asking her opinion on things. He made ministry attractive!

4. Protect them from some of the Ugliness
On several occasions my wife or I, have stopped friends from telling horror stories of crime or human failure in front of our children. They will learn the ugliness that missions brings soon enough. We do not want to keep them in a bubble, just ease them into real life. Living on the mission field, they still have to confront issues of crime and poverty in their own childlike ways.

5. Be Positive
Your children will know more than anyone if you really do not love the people you minister to or the nation you are in. Love what God has called you to and they will too.

6. Advertise them
Ok, this might sound a bit like exploitation. Hear me out.

Present your mission as a family mission. When we are at home visiting churches, we always bring the kids on stage with us. In our newsletters, there is always a corner for what is going on in their lives. We’ve found that other young families in churches connect with us, and have become a part of our team.

Do you have anything to add to the list? What makes ministry or missions attractive to your kids?

– Chris Lautsbaugh, Missionary teacher and author with Youth With A Mission, living in S. Africa.
Blog:  NoSuperHeroes  Twitter: @lautsbaugh      Facebook:  NoSuperHeroes

 

Meet the Editors

Angie and I have never met in real life. Instead, our journey was formed in blog comments and facebook posts. Our friendship begun via computers and twitter handles. She was in Bolivia, and I was living in SE Asia. She was the encouraging missionary with years under her belt saying, “You can do this,” while I was the one with only months under mine claiming publicly that I very-much-couldn’t.

I received many emails and messages and comments on my own blog, particularly during the times I vomited hopelessness or admitted to cussing in the front yard,  but Angie became this source of constant encouragement to me, half a globe away. Her words always rang true, always pointed up, always spoke life. She faithfully left comment after comment after comment, reminding me that I wasn’t crazy. And that it would get better. And that living overseas would teach me lessons I couldn’t learn otherwise.

****

And several months ago, I had a precious friend at our house for dinner in Asia, and somehow, Angie Washington’s name surfaced. And my new friend exclaimed, “Wait, I know her!” To which I replied incredulously, “Like, in real life?!”

And my friend had spent a summer with Angie and her family in Bolivia, and I held my breath a little as I asked the question that I think is in the back of everyone’s mind when they’re about to meet in real life someone they’ve only known via words on a screen:

“Is she like, legit?”

And my friend couldn’t stop raving, and I knew then that words on screen matched words in real life for Angie Washington {Of course, I figured that was the case}. And I understood clearly that I wanted to stay connected with this particular blog-friend on a regular basis– regardless of latitude. She was too precious not to keep rubbing shoulders, or online words, with.

And so a few months later, when I was thinking of the concept of this site and the need for it in the lives of missionaries on the field, I immediately thought of Angie. Not only is she a stellar and honest writer, but she consistently points people heavenward with encouragement and challenge– exactly the kind of person we need at the helm of this community. I’m hopeful that she’ll be able to do for some of you what she did for me during some of my darkest days on the field.

Laura Parker, October 2012

**********

Laura Parker. Co-Founder, Editor. As a child, Laura wanted to be Amy Carmichael, and in college, she wanted to be an English teacher living in an African hut. When her first attempt at overseas missions became an epic failure, lasting three months instead of several years, she began to think that foreign ministry was perhaps more difficult than the books made it out to be. This was a truth made clear during her second stint living overseas, this time with three small children, in SouthEast Asia. As a freelance writer and avid blogger, Laura wrote gritty and honest about her time in the field, building a community of missionaries, hungry for authenticity about  the difficulties of living overseas. In addition to writing for her personal blog, LauraParkerBlog, Laura has also been a freelance writer and photographer for Compassion International. She has been published in RELEVANT Magazine, MomSense magazine, a Deeper Story, {In}Courage, SheLoves and other online websites. Currently, she works with a counter-trafficking NGO. You can find her at her personal site, LauraParkerBlog and can follow her on twitter at @LauraParkerBlog.

 

Angie Washington. Co-Founder, Editor. Angie has been living the adventure with her husband and their five kids in Bolivia for over a decade. Together they have started: multiple bible schools, an international office for equipping Latin leaders through media and conferences, a local church, a K-12 Christian school, and an orphanage. She has a personal blog called “The @“. Her blog topics range from street art to adoption to cooking with gas. Through her writing she hopes to push people to love God, love people and enjoy life. Straddling hemispheres creates a continual need for her to rely on Christ… and coffee! When not writing, chilling with the fam or doing missionary stuff she collects cactus plants, takes pretty pictures and hangs out with her friends.

Coming Soon!

a Life Overseas will be officially launching November 15th. This collective blog-site will be a space to encourage, challenge, and help missionaries and humanitarian workers living overseas. Our articles will spark honest conversation, ask hard questions, and give glimpses into the realities of the missionary lifestyle. We have a line-up of writers from all over the globe, most of whom have logged years of experience in international living and many of whom have published books. Feel free to look around, but please know that surfing our site now will be a little like walking through a framed house without sheetrock or seeing the bride when she’s barely finished with her makeup —

we have a lot more building, and polishing, to do around here.

Please be sure to stop back by mid-November where we will officially be launching this new community. Until then, feel free to go ahead and join our facebook page.

Thanks for your patience,

Laura and Angie, Editors西川リビング NEO-16 NEO-STAGE マット(1枚もの) 16×120×195cm 2461-00101 30ベージュ
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The Most Important Question for a Missionary

This may be the most important missionary message I have ever shared. It certainly is one I must apply the most frequently.

The longer I am in missions, the more I gain a sensitivity to a perceived sense of superiority. It is not intended, but it is the message we often communicate.

I hear it with new, zealous missionaries who are convinced they have something to offer the poor helpless souls of such and such nation.

If I am honest, I still hear it from my own mouth after twenty plus years.

CC on Flckr by by babasteve

Well meaning, willing to serve; of course
But dripping with an unintended superiority complex; yes

Duane Elmer, in his book Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility,  interviewed countless people on the field, asking them about the experiences they’ve had with missionaries. A common response was one which causes us to think.

“Missionaries could more effectively minister the gospel if they did not think they were superior to us”.

Elmer, in his book , raise the questions of attitudes. As missionaries, do we minister from a desire to serve or a sense of superiority.

He defines servanthood as “the conscious effort to choose one direction and one set of values over another.”

This is difficult in normal life, but when we cross cultural barriers, the choice becomes much more difficult; but perhaps even more essential.

Elmer goes on to state, “Many missionaries are like me: well intentioned, dedicated and wanting to serve, but also naive and in some denial about what it means to serve in another culture.”

Desire to serve is not enough, we must guard against ministering from a place of superiority.

Here are some beliefs or statements that may help us gauge how we are doing:

  • I need to correct their error (meaning I have superior knowledge, a corner on the truth).
  • My education has equipped me to know what is best for you (so let me do most of the talking while you do most of the listening and changing).
  • I am here to help you (so do as I say).
  • I can be your spiritual mentor (so I am your role model).
  • Let me disciple you, equip you, train you (often perceived as let me make you a clone of myself).

“Superiority cloaked in a desire to serve is still superiority”

Ouch!

The Bible calls this pride.

Jesus himself came to Earth as a suffering servant. “even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28) Although superior, He did not cling to that, taking the form of a servant. (Philippians 2:7)

Whether you serve cross-culturally or domestically, we must ask ourselves if we are ministering from a sense of superiority.

Take a good, hard look. It might be painful, but your effectiveness will benefit from it.

When is the last time we learned something from the people we are serving?
What aspect of the foreign culture have you implemented into your life?
Can we receive from those we serve, or do we always have to be in the place of power as the giver?

– Chris Lautsbaugh, Missionary teacher and author with Youth With A Mission, living in S. Africa.
Blog:  NoSuperHeroes  Twitter: @lautsbaugh      Facebook:  NoSuperHeroes