SHARON’S CORNER: GOD HAS A BIG LAP
I’m so fortunate to have several children who care for me when Linus travels, but there is one thing I insist on…bring me coffee in bed every morning!
While at my daughter Leslie’s house, I sleep in my granddaughter little Immy’s bed. She doesn’t mind giving it up because that means she can sleep in her parents room…if she could she would sleep there every night.
Immy’s desire to be close to her parents made me think of a loving mother lifting her infant on to her lap and to her breast. As Father God’s beloved children, we can experience this kind of nurturing closeness to Him too. He reaches to gather us to Himself through the loving arms of Jesus.
As His child I crave God’s closeness. His lap is big enough to hold even a great grandmother like me!
TRACTION: GOD’S BIG LAP FOR MISSIONARIES
For the sixth year in a row, fellow Global Training Network fellow worker Hud McWilliams and I (Linus) helped staff a retreat called Traction led by Pastor Daniel Hahn (Daniel and wife Lori also lead a retreat for couples and kids called Breathe).
At Traction, fifty plus missionaries from all over the globe came together for encouragement, counseling, coaching, and spiritual and emotional encouragement. They serve in places as:
Azerbaijan, Benin, Bosnia, Brazil, Central Asia, China, Czech Republic, East Africa, Ethiopia, Germany, Hungary, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mexico, Mozambique, Nigeria, North Africa, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Philippines, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Tanzania, Thailand, and Turkey.
Some of the issues these cross-cultural workers face include:
- Marriage and relational stress
- Fatigue and physical pain
- Parenting, marital, children, and team issues
- Wear and tear of living in difficult countries
- Spiritual dryness
Many of us contend with some of these issues, but these men are living in areas with little access to resources or like-minded community. Traction is staffed by counselors and coaches like Hud and me to help these men process the challenges they face.
Since many of these missionaries come from places unfriendly to the Gospel, without permission we could only take backside photos. Here is one taken as we made our way to a nearby park where we had a barbecue one evening.
LARGE GROUP, SMALL GROUPS AND ONE-ON-ONE SESSIONS…TO HELP MEN CLIMB INTO GOD’S LAP
Each morning our staff met to pray for the missionaries attending Traction. This was followed by a large group gathering and time of reflection on principles from the life of David. Here are the four main points put forth for these men to ponder, many of whom were depleted when they arrived:
- Depletion is inevitable…so restoration is essential.
- Inadequacy turns out to be our greatest gift…because dependency is our greatest achievement.
- Failure not only reveals needed character adjustment…it can open us up to living in and relating out of grace.
- Sexual compromise is one of the primary traps…our surrender to God in this arena is one of our primary tasks.
The rest of the morning was filled with small groups, one of which I led each day. Our small group conversations went deep. The men in my group shared family, personal, and ministry struggles, as well as prayed for and encouraged each other.
Each afternoon the Traction staff met one-on-one to process whatever issues the participants wanted help with. The overall impact was encouraging. So many of these men arrived with heads down, burdened with the struggles and challenges of cross-cultural ministry, but left with heads held high, as they were renewed and able to face with renewed strength the challenges ahead of them.
Only one of the men in my group was from a closed-access country so I was given permission to take their photo (with the closed access country missionary showing only his backside…by his permission).
Please pray that the joy, hope, encouragement, refreshment, and healing that they experienced with continue to radiate out in the months ahead. Ministry like theirs can only be sustained if you have a sense of being in our Heavenly Father’s lap. It is the same with ours.
Next up: Ethiopia and Uganda. Please pray.
Grateful to be in the Father’s lap,
Linus and Sharon