Life in the Wastelands...

As most of you know, I lived and did missions work for a year in E. Asia 12 years ago. Before returning last week, it had been 11 years since I’d been back. Without going into a lot of detail, I’d say that my year there was one of the hardest in my life…though I always so pleasantly tried to be “nice” and “spiritual” in describing it: “Yes, it was hard…but it could have been worse…and God’s grace was sufficient…”

When I left the city I was in, we had lost most of our contact with the nationals we were working with – due to some governmental regulations some people, including the very few handful of disciples we had, were afraid to be connected with us, the “foreign devils.” Out of fear they stopped visiting. Another young man accused us of brainwashing his girlfriend…she had “disappeared” and so I never got to say goodbye to one of my dearest national friends – at that time only one of three nationals in the country who was working full time with us. Half our team was sent home mid year and the rest of us didn’t finish strong – we limped as best we could to a very anti-climactic ending of a thorny year.

When I left, I thought, “What a wasteland.” Like Nathaniel who decried, “Nothing good can come from Nazareth!” I thought the same of my city. I’ve spent many years pondering what good “my” year there did and pretty much had written off the place and the experience.

But God…

You’d think after 17 years of doing this, I’d realize that it isn’t just about my ministry and me. It isn’t just me who is going overseas to minister. Almost every time, because of God’s generosity and kindness, I feel like I am the one who gets most ministered to. And prayerfully, in the midst, he glorifies himself through humbling and lavishing me with His goodness.

Besides being among a group of stellar people last week, one of the things I learned was that the city I was in – that desert wasteland, that nothing of a place – was now the top city in the nation in raising up full time national workers for the ministry in country. Yup – you read that right. The place I thought that nothing good would come from, is now the place that has seen abundant fruit in the harvest in that land. Twelve years ago the country had only a handful of national workers…one of which my team “lost.” Now…there are several hundred…some of which are now traveling beyond the borders of their own country with the good news of the gospel!

It is hard to describe what hearing that did to my spirit. Actually, there were (and still are) a lot of tears of wonder and awe. I can only say that I think God wanted me to go on this trip to E. Asia far less to minister to the long term single women there…and far more because he wanted to bring healing to my heart. He wanted to show me that my STINT there, 12 years ago – which felt a waste, which was difficult, painful and has never made sense to me – had a far greater purpose. One gal told me, “You were a pioneer there – you paved the way for what is now happening. So many of our national staff point back to when their foreign teachers helped them to know more.” Even now writing that brings tears to my eyes.

But God…

He is the One who is Lord of the harvest. Completely apart from my efforts…I was faithful to go, faithful to cling to him in the midst of a tender year, not being present to see nor reap the seeds we had sown.

But God…

He is the one who can redeem and heal even the worst of difficult and senseless years/decades

But God…

Who does wonders in the least likely of places…born of a virgin, in a barn, and raised in a sketchy town like Nazareth…our Savior seems to have a specialty in bringing life where we least expect it.


Thank you for being a part of a monumental week of healing to my heart through your financial generosity, your prayers and encouragement. Seems God has been doing a lot of healing from difficult years this spring and I’m so grateful. Please pray that I’d continue to lean in to Him, to hear His heart and direction for my life, and for the courage to continue following Him. He IS the way…

But God…

He is good – all the time – even when all around you looks and feels like a wasteland.