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27 January, 2015

Flight Hazards, Navigation Challenges and Obedience

The other day we were traveling on an urban freeway. The driver was busy with traffic, off-ramps and road hazards. I was busy observing all I could see in this city-not-my-own. A few low-flying birds caught my attention.

In amazement I watched the birds carefully navigate many dangers to flight. Power lines, fast-moving trucks, various roof-lines and fences were hazards that could have knocked them out but the birds persisted in their flight pattern, dodging every hazard and successfully landed in a small patch of grass between roadways.

Once they were firmly on the ground, the birds stood still and looked around. Then they fixed their gaze on the birds-of-their-feather already there. The new arrivals looked like they weren’t sure what to do after successfully navigating the obstacles and finally arriving at their destination. Just before they went out of my sight I saw two of the already-there-birds walk over to the new arrivals. “Ahh,” I thought, “at least “somebird” (somebody) sees their need and will help them on the ground.”
My thoughts went on to liken this bird scenario to missionaries arriving at their ministry location for the first time, or even the 10th time. Throughout a missionary’s time of preparation we each face many hazards that could knock us out of flight. We must learn to navigate gathering a prayer team, partnering with financial investors, legal requirements for living in the new location, paperwork for accountability, family obligations and desires, schedules and more. It is not for the feint-of-heart!
The enemy of our souls interjects thoughts and skews understanding in so many ways, hoping to keep missionaries from successfully landing where God invites us to join Him. And the enemy doesn’t stop when we do land in the place of God’s invitation. Doubts can quickly arise. Thoughts of inadequacy and reminders of our inexperience can swirl like a dense fog bringing limited visibility.

I am so glad God’s invitation to us to join Him in what He is doing includes being the “somebodies” that see the needs of missionaries just arriving and help them on the ground. We find joy in preparing for the arrival of our teammates, laying the groundwork for the entry into Uganda and preparing for mentorship.  It is a privilege to celebrate God’s faithfulness with each arrival, recounting together God’s navigation guidance that enabled them to reach their destination. Sharing Scripture, praying together, helping folks learn where to shop and how to greet people in the local language begins to lift the fog. Providing meals, assisting with childcare, interpreting cultural norms and introducing them to new friends increases visibility. We are grateful for the privilege of helping missionaries thrive!

Now in the U.S. for a few months of homeland ministry assignment, we are once again navigating the flight pattern that leads back to Uganda. We are gathering prayer warriors and financial partners. We are filling out paperwork, spending all possible time with family and juggling schedule requests.
Our hearts are grateful for those who minister to us along the journey. We are being loved on, fed, hosted lavishly, supported lovingly and cared for in every way. We are prayed over, donated to, hugged and challenged. Through this we are renewed, restored, strengthened and our vision clarity is increasing. We look forward to returning to Uganda mid-summer of this year. We are eager to re-join our team already there. Though there is still much to navigate on the way we are confident our God and His people will get us there to continue doing all that God invites us to do with Him.

What about you? Is there someone in your neighborhood, workplace, school or church that has just “landed” and is hoping somebody will see their need and help them? Is God inviting you to join what He is doing in someone’s life, helping them navigate a difficult flight pattern? Might God be prompting you to extend partnership to a missionary? Our prayer is that we each one listen to God’s voice and be courageous in our obedience. Someone is depending on it!