This year on the 26th of December will mark 20 years since I left my home to join Youth With A Mission and for Tania, it was in May. I still remember the timid young man I was with hopes and dreams, but with no clue what the future had in store for me. A lot of people had doubts about me and questioned whether or not I heard God because people like me and where I come from do not become missionaries. How could God use a poor, uneducated, young person who could hardly speak English? To be honest, I even doubted myself because I was about to embark on a journey that was so unclear and I had never met anyone that had gone before me. I arrived at YWAM with literally nothing, not even soap toothpaste. Psalm 121:1-2 turned into my regular prayer, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.”
Now when I look back 20 years, I can truly say that He was and still is my Help. I have had the privilege to see thousands of lives change and experience the love of Christ. I can speak of all the miracles and healings that we saw on the journey, the new ministries that have been planted over the years. I will never forget the many nations, cities, towns, and villages that I’ve had the privilege to preach in. Hundreds of teams that were sent out all across the world with the message of hope. The physical and spiritual needs of the poor and needy around the world that we were able to serve. The strangers we meet around the world that eventually became our family. However, the best moments by far was when I became a father to my children, Chloe and Elisha. They have been the greatest blessing in our lives. This year Chloe turned 16 and Elisha 15 and it gives us great joy to see their love for God.
What are 3 key lessons I have learned over the last 20 years in Missions?
1) Openness and Brokenness
To always have an open heart before God allows Him to work in and through us. It is so easy to get to a place of “I know it all”, but the glory of God is so vast that I can never fully comprehend it. Every new situation, new challenge, new people or culture requires us to be open to what we do not understand. It is in that place where we see ourselves grow. The Lord has continued to break my heart for the lost and the needy. Our brokenness allows us to serve from a place of compassion and love. Open and broken is really about continual surrendering.
2) Fixing my eyes on Jesus
There are always needs and challenges in missions, it is easy to get side tracked. We do not only find strength in fixing our eyes on Jesus, but it also helps us to stay on the path with the vision He gave us. The very purpose and vision the Lord gave us is what keeps us focussed on the call. When life gets hard and we are pressed from every side then the only place we find strength and life is in the finisher and author of our faith, Jesus. Fixing our eyes on Jesus is us saying, “Lord I completely rely and depend on You”.
3) Dying to self
For I have died with Christ and I no longer live becomes a constant prayer in our lives. Not only do we have to die to self in our relationship with God, but also in our interactions with other people. It is where you become right enough to be wrong and wrong enough to be right. You learn to be strong enough to be weak and weak enough to be strong. In missions, we give up our rights and we take on responsibilities and sons and daughters of God the Father. It’s in dying to self that we learn true humility.
Many people have joined the journey over the last 20 years and have impacted me in ways beyond my imagination. Many people have walked with me and championed me and they are too many to mention. I have come from a very broken timid young boy to now being a husband, father, brother, leader, and son of God. However, I’m forever grateful and humbled to be writing this today because never would I have dreamed about making it this far. So here’s to many more dreams and exciting journeys ahead together. When I look back or into the future then this is what I will always remember. Our father in heaven can use anyone and everyone who makes themselves available! No matter where you are at in life, God will use you and all it takes from you is a simple yes.
May you have a wonderful Christmas and a prosperous New Year. I pray that the Lord pour out His love and Spirit over afresh and new in this season.
God Bless you,