This level of devotion reminds me of the many friends who serve the Lord in other countries. They have decided to faithfully minister full time and teach others what they themselves know about God. They are committed to living a life honoring God as they try to introduce Jesus to many who have no idea. It sounds easy, but such commitments are tough and stress a person’s dedication, focus and desire. Continuous prayer, bible study, support of friends and family and a deep faith helps them overcome the toughest of obstacles.
To put things in perspective, I reflect on a recent disaster that affected much of my state, Alabama. A few months ago, a tornado swept through killing many. It’s impact also destroyed homes and knocked out our community’s electricity for a week. We had no lights, hot water, air conditioning, gas, food or television. We were otherwise unscathed and therefore had many options to escape the inconveniences. One such plan included heading to stay with family in the next state. However, we made the choice to stay and join our church in helping neighbors and community recover.
Since we had no direct impact, our days were spent volunteering with tornado recovery, trying to keep frozen food from spoiling, cooking food that we could rescue, gathering with neighbors and sharing food until it got too dark. We went to bed as shadows blanketed our homes and woke up with the sun creeping into our windows. After a week, we were well into the rhythm of survival when the power was suddenly restored. That week of inconvenience turned into a wonderful time to get closer to our families, friends and gather closer as a community. But this was a onetime experience, one that we quickly recovered from.
In contrast, I'm reminded of friends in foreign places. Some locations are remote and electricity only runs for part of the day. Intermittent electricity is the norm, transportation is unreliable, language translation is fallible and customs are strange. Dinner may take several hours as meat has to be bought, water has to be sanitized, vegetables have to be cooked and ingredients have to be gathered that day. Businesses, stores, government services and doctor’s offices may not be available every day.
If family members get ill, there is no immediate visit to a doctor’s office. If foreign government services are needed, it may take days or weeks of waiting in a faraway city. As missionaries they have choices. They can return to the comfort of living in the US or they can remain where they are. My suspicion is that they have a strong pull to serve God right where they are. This desire far outweighs the convenience that they could be experiencing. Like Marta, they are right where they should be, enjoying the impact they are making.