Of Loss and Landslides: Marti’s Story

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Meet Jeremy. He’s a ceramic bank who’s travelled the world with me since 1972.

He sat quietly on my dresser in the U.S., Zimbabwe, the United Arab Emirates, and Australia.

Sadly, this final leg of our international journey shattered Jeremy. (We did not seek medical assistance.) As I have had time during COVID to piece him back together—at times doubting it could be done—I have been on a spiritual journey of healing from my own losses; my own ways I’ve been, well, shattered.

Following Christ into ministry—across the ocean or across the country—we are intellectually aware we will face loss.  Comfort, convenience, familiarity, family, microwaves, top-notch medical treatment.

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8)

But sometimes unexpected or premature losses catch us emotionally off guard. And they can hit like a landslide.

Loss, and My Personal Landslide

Four years ago, through a denied visa—after 17 years of ministry in Australia—my husband and I experienced our own landslide of losses.

With 28 days to liquidate our household, we didn’t have much time to consider these losses until arriving stateside. Then the loss-landslide slammed into us: fruitful ministry roles. Family (leaving our daughter, son-in-law, and grandsons in Australia). Productive and recognized ministry roles. Identity and accomplishment. Familiarity of culture/country. Being an “overseas worker.”

And it didn’t end there.

I then faced loss of my closest girlfriend to cancer just two months after our return. And finally, I lost of a sense of confidence to serve, as God placed me in a totally new and unfamiliar form of ministry.

Mostly expected, but premature losses—delivered in a landslide.

Thoughts from Jeremy

As I patiently glued Jeremy’s fractured body together, I begin to realize God understands my attachment to earthly things. My “God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

But he’s also working to lift my eyes to heavenly things. He intimately knows me and my transient lifestyle—first as a missionary kid and then as an adult missionary. God understands my need/desire to have a few things of my own to cherish. He gave them to me.

Looking at my precious possession, I see the cracks. The scars are visible.

And some small pieces are knocked out, either lost or too small to glue back. Those “too small” pieces are in a bag inside Jeremy.  It just seems wrong to throw them away as they are still part of his story; my story. As those pieces are jostled, the shards might stab him (/me) inside—but they still form part of God’s story for me.

Replicating Kintsugi, the Japanese art and philosophy of repairing cracked or broken pottery with molten gold or silver, I have painted the cracks on Jeremy with gold paint—so the cracks are even more visible.  I do not try to hide them.

Every LOSS = God’s Gift

Each crack, chip, or hole represents a valuable story of a gift from God that’s no longer mine.

Without the gift, I would not know the loss. So it is to be celebrated, not hidden, because God chose His best for me. (Check out 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 on this.)

As if to reinforce this lesson, I received a special hug from God. The back of Jeremy’s head where the pieces were just too small to glue back, turns out to be the outline of Australia— where part of my heart remains.

Gaps, Just Like Me

Jeremy once again sits on my dresser. He is cracked and scarred. He has gaps, just like me.

Each crack, scar and gap represent a gift from God, shared for a specific time and place. Where others see damage, I see a reminder of God’s generosity, gracious understanding, and incomparable comfort.

Jeremy’s still a cherished part of my life history. But I hold him less tightly.

Instead of pain, he reminds me that all I have is temporal. What I have here doesn’t measure up to the value of the “surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus as Lord” and sharing him with those who don’t yet know him.

I am seen by God, grateful, and content.


Marti Williams is a TEAM missionary kid from South Africa. She and her husband have served with TEAM for 37 years in roles like Leadership Development, Church Planting, Bible College Lecturer and Women’s Pastor–raising their three daughters in Zimbabwe, the UAE, and Australia. Marti now serves stateside as Director of Equity and Diversity for TEAM. 

A variation of this article previously appeared on A Life Overseas. Adapted and reprinted with permission.


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