On Go. Serve. Love, we talk a lot about strategies to reach the 4.13 billion unreached.
This month, we’re sharing stories from Avant Ministries, which since 1892 has focused on planting and developing the church in unreached areas of the world.
Through church planting, church support ministries, media, education, camp and business, Avant hopes to establish churches among the unreached: mature, nationally-led churches that desire to plant more churches, first in their own city, and then all over the world.
Avant trains, sends and serves missionaries in over 50 countries globally. Today, we hear from one of their global workers.
My process of adjusting to my previous home (starting in April) was fairly smooth and enjoyable. I jumped into language classes, got started in the business, and settled in with only a few small “bumps.” I grew to see and understand that city as my new home, I became excited about the business we were working on starting, and I started the process of making friends and a life there.
Our departure was somewhat abrupt. Security issues arose quickly, and, wisely, my leadership decided to pivot to where I work now rather suddenly. The whole process makes sense to me, and I’m in full agreement with these decisions. I can see the opportunity we now get to step into, but observing those things isn’t the same as seamlessly making the switch on a personal level.
Almost all of the reasons I’ve struggled with, and felt more tired from this move are quite small. It’s things like the amount of honking on the streets here, how congested traffic is, and that the sun goes down right around 5 this time of year. It’s also more damp and overcast here, which I know has an effect on me too.
About a week and a half ago, some of these things coalesced into a particular moment of tiredness, and I cut class short and ended up taking a nap for most of the afternoon. I woke up feeling better, but also knowing that I needed some kind reset.
Parallel to these experiences, my team leader had realized his own schedule was packed past capacity, and he needed a bit of space to breath and remain healthy. The day after my long, tired day, he texted and asked if I’d like to join his family for dinner and then watch his kids for a while, so that he and his wife could go out for the evening. I said yes without hesitation, but didn’t realize how much I needed the evening I was about to receive.
Spending time with his family after spending a number of evenings alone at my apartment over the last couple of weeks was exactly what I needed. As I walked in and was met by a Christmas tree, music, and a family cooking and doing homework, I felt myself immediately unwind. Before he left for his date, my team leader and I got to talk about a lot of things, including my adjustment. He listened really well, and unconditionally opened up his family’s house to me. Any time I want to drop by, he told me, I’m completely welcome.
He also told me about his commitment to create a little more space in his schedule, and I asked about how I could help him do that. We talked about how his kids, especially his older teenagers, would benefit from having another adult around the house regularly who’s invested in their life and well-being. I asked if me coming to hang out at their house regularly, letting him and his wife go out, would be helpful for him, and he liked the idea immensely.
As I look at that conversation, and the various themes of service and hospitality that were woven through it, the most notable thing to me is that we’re both meeting each other’s needs as our own are met. That night, I felt more relaxed and content that I had in a long time as I sat next to the Christmas tree reading, the kids doing homework, performing small science experiments in the kitchen, and reading different books on the couch next to me. We played a Youtube video on the TV of a fireplace burning with Christmas music in the background, and I almost melted into the recliner.
My team leaders got to go to an event across town together, and enjoy each others’ company on an evening that they didn’t think would allow it. There’s nothing “zero-sum” about this scenario, and I’m reminded that I’m only as healthy as my co-workers are healthy, and my co-workers are healthy only as much as I’m healthy. Our well-being is bound together, and, especially in this intense, cross-cultural environment we’re in, we need to be leaning into each other at every opportunity.
I think that reflects a simple lesson for missions, too. The incarnation, on a really simple level, is a move into relationship. Our Lord bound His well-being, His life, and His love to us, both bringing unimaginable hope to our world, and also requiring real sustenance and nurturing from those around him. I’m reminded as I think about both my own experiences and our King’s that relationships are foundational in many different ways. Whether it’s the 3-that-is-1 and 1-that-is-3 relationship, our reconciled relationship to the Father, or the new opportunity we have to live in restored relationship with those around us, there’s no escaping relational living. I think we all really need each other, too.