BECAUSE EVERYTHING SOUNDS BETTER ALLITERATED...
The reason we're here, as I'm sure most of you know, is to become better prepared to take the gospel of Jesus to places that have not heard the sweetness of being saved by grace through faith in Christ's accomplished work on our behalf. One of the greatest fears that we experienced in our transition from mild-mannered Texans to Louisvillian seminarians was (and still is) that we would lose heart, that we would start our degree program with zeal and gusto to plant our lives overseas and then become distracted and comfortable, forgetting what brought us here in the first place. Distracted by other options for ministry and comfortable with the American life and all the luxuries that it would afford us. It's an easy thing to do, especially when my boss spent the latter part of a working day this week showing me magazine pictures of the airplanes he's aspiring to purchase. Not saying that I want to buy a plane, but a dish washer would be nice.
But more than likely, the only dish washer I'll have are these two that are attached to the ends of my arms. That's just the way life is in the places where we want to go. So why do we want to go there? Well, the answer is easy enough. Jesus is worth it, and He deserves to be praised by every tongue, tribe, and nation. Remembering that on a daily basis, on the other hand (yes, the dish-washing ones), is another battle in itself. So here are some of our thoughts and practices that the Lord has given us that help us to be steadfast in our calling overseas.
We wish you all could meet Mory. He would introduce himself as Mory but I would introduce introduce him to you as Morteza, insisting that his Iranian name is not too difficult for us Americans to pronounce. Morteza is about the same age as my father and moved to Louisville for Tehran, Iran about a month ago. He shares an apartment with his son, who lives here and works two jobs at restaurants downtown. Morteza spends his time attending every English class he can possibly attend, and, though he is Muslim, he visits churches in the area(including ours), probably to practice English as well. When Kevin & I invited him to join us for dinner this week, he insisted that in exchange for the meal, he would begin to teach us Farsi, the native language in Iran. We only got to numbers 1-10 but the entirely different numeric script, let alone alphabet, proved to me that numbers are not the universal language and was enough to occupy lesson one (or lesson yek as you'd say in Farsi). Please pray for our time with Morteza that as our relationship develops, we would be able to share with him more about who Jesus is.
A MISSIONS-MINDED CHURCH
I listened to a sermon once in college from a Desiring God pastor's conference. It was by a man named Philemon Yong (yes, it does in fact read like the cut of meat) and he was a native Cameroonian missionary. His sermon was called "Building Firm Foundations: Why Theological Education is Important to Missions," and his accurate assessment of mission work along with his humor won me over as a fan immediately. So how shocked was I when I found out that he and his family attended our church here in Louisville when he was studying at Southern. And how even more shocked was I when our pastor's sweet wife called me this week to ask if we wanted to come to her house Friday evening for dessert with Philemon and others from our church! Needless to say, I was a bit star-struck as he shared about his life & work in Cameroon. We are so thankful to be a part of a church that thinks, speaks, and prays about missions from the pulpit all the way to the pastor's living room.
Even if we were going to stay in American, you probably still would not have found fancy china on my wedding registry. But you definitely wouldn't (and didn't) find it, considering the fact that it's just not practical to wrap up all those delicate plates and gravy boats and ship them half way across the world where no one even knows what a gravy boat is to begin with. We try to keep our life simple here in order to prepare for a simple life there. Also, I tried to decorate our home in such a way that it reminds us of the things we value. Above Kevin's desk in his study hangs a collage I made him of faces from across the globe: a sweet grandmother from Kazakhstan, a stunning woman from Western China, a little Somalian girl with an umbrella beneath an arching rainbow, and three Afghan men who could possibly resemble the three magi from Jesus' birth. On the opposite wall hangs a big world map (which is disappointingly ethnocentric with America smack in the center). My intent is to create within the walls of our home a picture of what exists beyond the walls of our home. A reminder within a refuge.
I realize this has been a much longer post than we're all used to. And with no pictures too! Congratulations for reading it this far. Please take some time to comment with thoughts or ideas as to how Christians, both those called to go and those called to stay, can continue to be globally minded individuals with an eye and a heart set on God's work around the world.