At the time, I was drowning in lists. I no longer had a kitchen table; we’d sold it (or given it away? I don’t remember). We were getting immunizations and snapping passport photos of wiggly preschoolers and typing elaborate packing lists into spreadsheets. I found myself longing for the moment I would snap my seatbelt buckle on a Uganda-bound plane: At least then, even if there was more to do, I couldn’t do a single thing about it.
In the midst of said hurricane, I retrieved some medicine from the pharmacy. My kids were bouncing up and down like little pogo sticks. “We’re moving to Uganda!” one of them brightly announced to the pharmacist.
The woman, tucked in her clean little booth where everything could be counted and qualified, maybe thought something like, What a nice story. Where did you hear about that place? Isn’t that in South America somewhere?
So I offered a lopsided grin. “Actually, they’re telling the truth. We’re moving to Africa.” She looked at me, then glanced at the kids who were racing around me. Her eyebrows lifted.
“Are y’all nuts?”
Good grief. I didn’t even have all my kids with me.
“So! When are you coming back?”
It must have been more than a year later that a couple from the States was visiting us in Uganda. The four of us had stepped away from the kids to one of the nicer restaurants in town; candles lit our faces. All I remember was that it was a stretched season, where my husband was straining in his job. And, as it was so often overseas, we were tired.
One of our friends leaned back in his chair. “So! When are you guys coming back?!”
I looked at him. Maybe it was so I didn’t reach across the table to wring his neck.
What Can Stand Against
I relate these (extremely trivial) illustrations because I know that there’s opposition to you bounding overseas, usually with doubts and malaria prophylaxis and someone’s grandchildren in tow. Usually it’s much more profound, even heartbreaking.
And I know that sometimes, others are vocalizing questions you’re already trying to wrangle into a headlock in your own mind. Sometimes others’ pushback has nothing to do with our own struggles, but we feel caught under their wheels anyway. And sometimes. we’re simply imagining opposition where there may not be any (see Jenn Fortner’s post on rejection in support raising).
Either way, I know discouragement is real.
But I also know this: These obstacles to us getting overseas, or staying there, galvanize us. They implant steel in our souls. Someday, we know that a generation of Christians will be persecuted to an extent never before seen. Can we afford to be easily shaken over these minor disapprovals, these long obediences in the same direction?
(Side note: In any criticism, apply the “1% theory”: Find what is true about the opposition, even if it’s just 1%. Then take 100% responsibility for that 1%.
Chalking up opposition to “suffering for Jesus”…when we’re not loving people well, or could stand to grow…is a lackluster strategy. Humility goes a long way in turning opposition into beauty.
And know that going overseas is not the overarching, guiding principle. There will be reasons not to go sometimes, and reasons to come back. Our endgoal is not overseas, but God glorified and enjoyed.)
Listening to One Voice
I’m drawn back to Acts 4, when Peter and John are called before the Sadducees.
Now when [the Sadducees] saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.
…So they called [Peter and John] and charged them no t to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (4:13, 18-20a, emphasis added)
I promise you: You’ll receive rejections, small, large, and imagined, as you saddle up for this adventure. But like Peter and John, there’s One Voice that matters. Make sure He alone is your master.
Like this post? You might like