Finding the Mission Field Outside my Front Door

Day 21, Five Minute Friday Prompt: PARK

The walking bridge in the main intersection near our house has been torn down. Major construction to replace it has begun as well as efforts to improve the traffic flow that jams it up on the regular. A temporary wall has been built which blocks off most of the intersection and re-routes every traveler.

In short, it’s a HUGE inconvenience. My husband has had to leave much earlier and has come home late every day. I am not able to get a taxi to come get me or find space on a bus to take me down to the main chowk where I’d just end up sitting anyway.

I’ve been parked at home all week. I have felt stuck and stir-crazy. I usually only get out once or twice a week anyway, but being forced to stay home makes me want to rebel.

I’ve gotten to know my neighbors a little better since we are all home-bound. Today, I sat with a sweet older lady as I waited (and waited and waited) for my daughter to come home from school. She told me that she briefly lived in Ohio as well as Israel and Beirut (where she survived a bombing). She has come back home to see her grand babies grow up.

I remember that in high-school, I used to ask God every day to give me a mission field. I didn’t realize at the time what a brave and scary thing this was to do.

Now that I am on the mission field, I am not as faithful with this prayer but realize I need to be. Because the tree and little patch of grass where my kids play ring-around-the-rosie is a mission field. And the little concrete slab next to a little bench where the same four ladies sit every night is a mission field.

I live the Golden Rule by seeing the humans among the harvest and by noticing the need right outside my front door. My ministry may not always be formal. Sometimes it’s not fancy at all: just two people sitting on a bench chatting the loneliness away.

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Sometimes God asks me to wait. Sometimes He parks me in the lane that’s not moving. Sometimes He asks me to follow him inch by painful inch performing small acts of service to Him. I have to trust that God will use me where I am in all the little ways I’m able.

Soon, I’ll be in America, away from this mission field for a short time. I better start praying now for that daily gift of ministry. I’m guessing most days my mission field will consist of two tiny people and the ministry opportunities they bring to me as it most often does now.

Is God asking you to serve Him in a waiting period?
Are your eyes open to the mission field on your door step?

Talk to me in the comment section!

What My Weekend Plans Have to do With You

Day 20, Prompt: WEEKEND

I posted this on my Facebook page last weekend after a particularly exhausting day in the Lord’s house with little ones: In my host country, we go to church on Saturdays. So Sunday is my day of rest and Saturday is the day I wrestle my son on the floor of our church while trying to listen to a sermon in my second language.

This weekend, I also get to attend a ladies meeting that falls after the second service/round two of wrestle mania. My husband graciously takes the kids out for lunch so I can really listen, and every month I am shocked at how much more I understand.

A rare occurrence.
A rare occurrence.

In my language inadequacies, I have spent a lot of time listening and observing. I’ve seen these wonderful women serve God in quiet and honorable ways. They have taught me so much about humility and living for God in a country that doesn’t acknowledge Him.

I sit in the circle, and look around at these women whose hands are calloused and feet still dirty from the morning’s work preceding a commute on foot to church. Many of them do hard labor, picking grass in a field by hand or farming fruits and vegetables to sell at market. They likely don’t even get the whole day off on Saturday, the one public holiday of the week. Yet, here they are, smiling and singing and loving on each other.

Some of them don’t carry a Bible because they started working before they gained a proper education or never had an opportunity to attend school at all. Still, they show up and follow along intently to the message brought by the foreign missionary.

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She speaks her second language which is many of these ladies’ second language as well. Growing up in the village, they learned a different language than the one spoken here in the city and they continue to speak it in their homes and workplaces. I guess some of them probably feel a lot like I do sitting there and never completely understanding.

There’s so much wisdom in this room. So much humility. So much love for Jesus. Their spiritual growth may look different than those who have more time, more resources, and more opportunities. But I don’t doubt that they know Jesus. Because I see that they love and serve like Him.

I am encouraged and challenged by their faithfulness, by their sweet spirits maintained in unimaginable circumstances. They may look back at me and see a spoiled girl born in a church pew in America, but I hope they see my heart. A heart that loves their people and wants to see them turn from idolatry.

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We will be moving on soon, starting our own church and leaving this group that has loved us during our transition into life in this country. Some of them hugged us tight while we waited out an earthquake in the doorframe of the church’s only bathroom. Many have held our children and kept speaking to them until they finally started to understand. And there are a few who have kept bringing them chocolate despite my feelings on the matter.

They have lived the Golden Rule to me and to my family, scared-to-death strangers sitting in their midst. In doing so, they’ve taught us how to love their people well (because not every act of kindness or generosity crosses cultures successfully). I have confidence moving forward reaching out in this city because of their acceptance and affirmation of our efforts to share the gospel here.

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Their faithful witness is the wind beneath our wings as we take flight for Jesus, and I am obliged to honor it with our evangelistic efforts moving forward.

They’ve done the hard labor of planting seeds which we now get to water. Whether we, or the next truth bringer, will get the increase remains known only to the One who laid the foundation for the whole thing by His sacrificial death so many years ago.

We honor their work, by continuing to scatter, water, wait, and trust God to do what only He can do. I dream of the day I sit in the middle of a circle of sisters I’ve seen captivated by the love of Christ and teach them little by little the mysteries of the Word that God has made known to me over the years.

It is the greatest blessing to labor for the Lord in this country. The only thing I feel lacking are laborers to shoulder the work of what we believe God would want to do here. I am begging God to raise up more workers for a greater harvest.

I hope you’ll take some time this weekend to pray about your role in God’s work in your neighborhood, in your church, and around the world.

Are you planting seeds to be watered by gospel preachers?
Who inspires you as a faithful witness for Christ?

Talk to me in the comment section!

Crystal Twaddell

Kicking the Hypocritical Habit

Day 19, Prompt: NOTICE
 (as in, notice I gave up on writing only for 5 minutes?)

My daughter developed a bad habit since we have moved to the foreign field. She sucks on her bottom lip until a raw, red ring appears on her chin. And then she chews some more.

She does it while she is watching TV, riding in the car, doing schoolwork, playing, and even when she is sleeping! I feel like I have said, “Baby, stop sucking/chewing your lip” at least 65 times a day for the past few months. Finally, it seems, she has broken the habit.

I have a bad habit too; I am a skin picker. Any time of the day,  especially if I am anxious or concentrated on something, you can find me pinching and poking invisible blemishes on my face until scabs appear. I don’t notice I’m picking until my husband gently smacks my hand away from my face.

Oh, and guess what else! I’m a  fairly regular lip chewer myself, yet I never realized this until I was refereeing my daughter’s daily habits.

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So it is with sin. It’s easy to pick up on what ways others are failing in their service to the Lord. It’s simple to see the lack of fruits in a believer’s life and maybe even question the status of his salvation. We may even think we can judge a heart’s condition from a person’s words and actions.

Yes, the Bible says we will know believers by their fruits. But how often do I magnify the rotten parts of the branch without glimpsing the healthy bits budding blooms? At the same time I am squinting at the secret sins of others, I miss the major symptoms of sin in my own life.

You would think that big ol’ beam in my eye would hurt a little more, right? I may not notice the pain, but I will see the ways it hurts my ministry. Maybe after it’s too late.

Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye (Matthew 7:2-5).

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In our zeal to see others’ lives changed by Christ, it can be tempting to focus on the sin rather than the Savior. Christians have earned derogatory terms like “Bible Thumpers,” “Holy Rollers,” and others I’m not comfortable typing out by failing to love others according to the Golden Rule.

While I may not be picketing soldiers’ funerals or rejoicing in a homosexual taken from this world too soon, if I am open to the Holy Spirit’s conviction in my life, I can notice ways that my gospel proclamation is hindered by my judgment of others.

In 1 Peter 3, we see instead the power of guarding our own ways to influence the hearts of others:

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear (1 Peter 3:1-2).

The wife of a lost man is not instructed here to nag her husband about his sinful state in order to change him. She is instead challenged to submit to him, love and serve him. To live a glowing gospel testimony in her home for the good of the gospel message.

I am not advocating solely practicing lifestyle evangelism. What I want to promote and practice is living a life of repentance as I share the message of the Cross.

And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear(1 Peter 1:17).

Living in fear in my home and in my work proclaiming the gospel message means being careful not to tread over the hearts of those to whom I witness. This includes my children, members of my community, and those to whom we formally minister through our church-planting efforts.

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It is God who judges hearts and opens the doors to heaven. The only job I am given is to love others and faithfully tell of the gospel of His sacrificial death and the Good News of His resurrection. It is above my pay-grade to change the spiritual condition of others. I leave that responsibility with the Holy Spirit where it belongs.

I am promised the Word of God will not return void. I trust that as I carefully handle its truths and surrender the heart-changing job to the only One who can witness the inner workings of man, I will see lives changed.

In my daily surrender to Jesus, I can be certain mine will. I can’t be the hands of Jesus if I am a hypocrite.

Are your evangelistic efforts hindered by a critical attitude?
What bad habits need to be dealt with so you may be a gracious gospel messenger?

Talk to be in the comment section!

 

The You of the Golden Rule

Day 6, Five Minute Prompt: YOU

 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets (Matthew 7:11-12).

The Golden Rule is not about you.

It’s not about me.

It’s about God and his goodness.

It’s about how the gate is wide and the way is narrow and what our lives say to those who haven’t been captivated by the Love that calls us down it (v 13-14). In our efforts to be like Jesus, we depend completely on His grace to bear fruit which makes His presence in us known (v. 16-20).

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Karma says “do good so good will be done unto me” while grace says “You can’t repay me, but I will serve you anyway.”

Grace looked at us in all our filthiness and died to make us its own. That redemptive act moves us to say, “I will lay down my life for the least of these because I know Whom I serve.” We serve the Almighty God who put on flesh and died a criminal’s death so we could fall in love with Him.

It’s about Our Father who gives us good things.

Proclaiming His name in our families and among the nations is the best gift we’ve been given after salvation.  I want to live as a servant sharing Christ and helping a few more people find the narrow road. I’ll sing and serve my way to golden gates.

What does God’s grace move you to do?

Talk to me in the comment section!

From Stir-Crazy to Strengthened by Stillness: Learning to Just Be

Day 5, Five Minute Prompt: SILENCE

The silence makes sirens go off in my head.

Be still makes me squirm.

I want TO DO.
I want TO GO.
I want TO BE HEARD.

In the silence, I hear whispers of “You’re not good enough.”
In the stillness, I feel muscles twitch with restlessness: “You’re not doing enough.” But this restlessness is only a distraction from living out the Golden Rule and The Great Commission. It keeps me sulking and self-seeking.

In the silence I can soak up His grace. In the stillness I can breathe Jesus in and rest knowing that the work Has already been done. I can DO, GO, and BE HEARD because I fell face first at the feet of Jesus and acknowledged my need of Him before I set upon my mission.

This is my theme and my philosophy of ministry. This is how change happens. Not by my hands or by my words. It happens in the silence and in the stillness. It happens with Jesus.

As I silently seek Him through the Word written long ago, and as I sit under the instruction of faithful servants, I move forward to do unto others.

But first I just have to Be.

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matthew 7:21-23).

Do you struggle with the silence?
How has God changed you in the stillness?

Talk to me in the comment section!

Other posts about silence and listening: Uncovering Stillness- The Very Cranky MummyThe Irony of BarbieSavior on SheLoves Magazine