Serving as a missionary in rural Africa is so many things. We all have our prayer lists and it is tempting to keep them attractive and “mission-focused”. Today, I am here to share 3 of my messy “first-world” struggles which need your prayers.
1. Pray for focus and contentment in the little things.
I have a very specific demon. It is named FOOD CRAVINGS. This might sound ridiculous, but I promise you the enemy can really use this to hinder your ministry. In the US we not only have access to delicious local foods but literally every food genre imaginable.
Most days its daydreams of queso from my hometown Mexican restaurant. But thoughts of French bakeries, Italian restaurants, Indian food, local coffee shops, and even the most simple fast-food joints can quickly become a distraction when you live in an area without restaurants or access to wide varieties of groceries.
*Disclaimer* You would maybe think that seeing people with out access to even basic human needs would quickly heal you of this selfish tendency. I’m here to assure you that my very human mind is not yet to pace with the longing of my heart. Today, I’m surrounded by suffering, but my failed neuroanatomy still centers on the 25 years I spent feeding my every desire with copious varieties of delicious foods.
Even more, you can pray for the guilt we experience daily for the persistence of these kinds of thoughts. I cringe even typing such small struggles when my reality is caring for orphans who are dying from horrible diseases! However, the reality is that my short-comings will always exceed my qualifications for this beautiful work.
2. Pray for your missionary as they strive to fulfill first-world tasks with third-world resources.
Let me just tell you, this one is tough! Whether it is engaging major sponsors, paying online bills, juggling social media updates, sending emails, or simply connecting with loved ones—being dependable and timely is a trivial pursuit.
I was recently asked to be a “virtual” witness at Dakota's, my best friend of almost 20 years, private marriage ceremony! Of everyone in the world, she chose me to be alongside her and only one other witness (their photographer) on their most special day. I was ecstatic, honored, and inevitably anxious about having this role in my current circumstances.
Just a few hours before the ceremony began (12 AM Kenya time), as I feared—we experienced a complete blackout of electricity. I lit candles, attempted making 100 calls with my phone data, but there I sat, dressed and ready but with no way to be present for this long-anticipated occasion.
So what do I do at this point? I cry. Really, it was the most generous thing I could do for myself. I knew my friend was the happiest she could ever be, with the man she loves more than anything in the universe. Luckily, she encompasses understanding which exceeds human capacity and I knew that she would continue to have the best day of her life regardless, but all in all, I still needed to mourn that lost battle.
Your prayers and patience keep us afloat in the midst of these frustrations.
3. Pray for our daily battle with financial mistreatment.
Ugh. Just, ugh. This one is possibly the ugliest of all uglies. It is also the very thing I dread sharing with you the most! Money is by far the most frustrating aspect of anything I do. When God called me to this work, the thing I dreaded most was fundraising. Little did I know that it would pale in comparison to the demands of stewardship in the impoverished world. You see, every day I am faced with the difficult responsibility of fighting for the proper use of our ministry funds.
Because I’m an American, every tiny transaction or interaction becomes an opportunity for inflation and bargaining. Whether I am buying produce, repairing a leaking roof, riding a motor bike, or even attempting to complete legal requirements, I am bombarded with bribes and quarreling for inflated prices.
It is so lonely to feel used or overcharged. Often I’m pleading with tears in my eyes for people to understand that taking this money doesn’t take from my personal assets, but my ability to save a dying child’s life.
It is really the challenge I face most and expected the least, but I am absolutely convinced that it is one of the most important parts of my work. When you grow up in poverty you are not constantly taught that it is “better to give than to receive” as we are often told as privileged children. Rather, they are taught to beg, plea, and survive.
While it does drive me to absolute distraction, I know that God has entrusted me with the crucial task of teaching hard lessons in generosity. Time after time, He has come through for me with financial miracles in the most desperate situations. While these difficult encounters over finances test my patience to no end, I am humbled when I am able to use these testimonies of my own miracles to inspire others. To get to see someone who was once seeking high payment turn to sacrifice and commitment to serving our children—without any compensation at all.
If you only pray for this one request, you will still be lifting the weight of so much daily burden on our behalf.
And so there it is…
This missionary life is difficult. It is messy. It makes you cussing mad and leaves you feeling like the least deserving person of any good thing.
However, I can promise you that your prayers and support are restoring! Being vulnerable and honest about these struggles is not easy for any of us! Particularly, when we fully depend on the support of others to enable our ministries for these vulnerable populations.
We want to be viewed as worthy of our cause. As trustworthy servants of a greater kingdom. But God is challenging me to break through my fears and insecurities. To reveal myself as the broken vessel that he chooses to use for His glory.
I am learning that this work has so little to do with my worthiness and so much to do with a Savior who empowers the least of these to do His work.
What an amazing privilege to serve a God who loves us in all of our weaknesses.
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26