“Welcome to church today! This morning, we have the special privilege of having the Johnson family here with us. They are missionaries to the country of China. Before Brother Johnson gets up here, I wanted to share with you a few things. He is an absolutely terrible person. He struggles with sin daily. And his wife, don’t even let me get started on telling you how awful she is. She worries about things often and loses patience with her two year old several times a day. With that being said, come on up here Brother Johnson and share with us your burden for reaching China with the gospel!”
This is not usually what we hear from the pastor when a missionary is visiting our church. He usually introduces the missionary and his family with very nice words, sharing how the Lord is greatly using this family to take Jesus to people who need to hear about His love for them. It’s not a bad thing for missionaries to be introduced with sweet and encouraging words. It’s a good thing. Every time we are visiting a church and given the opportunity to present our ministry, it is nice and encouraging to hear those things.
When I was in high school and college, I was fascinated when missionaries would come to my church. I loved hearing about their ministries and adventures. My church was huge, and because of that, I was rarely given the chance to actually spend time with these missionaries. My only view of them was from the pulpit, where they presented their ministries. I didn’t make the effort to meet them and get to know them. Because of that, I began to develop a skewed view of missionaries. I began to think that they were, somehow, a different kind of Christian than I was. In my mind, they were “super Christians”, while I was just a “normal Christian”. In a sense, I thought that God must have saved them more than He saved me, because they didn’t seem to have any struggles, while I was moment by moment fighting spiritual battles to just do right. Here is the kicker, I allowed myself to believe the lie that God could never use me as His servant because I still had struggles. With that in mind, I want to share a few thoughts on three types of people.
First, to those who have the desire to be used of God, but think they are too flawed to be used, here’s a news flash: We are all flawed! We all have doubts, temptations and struggles, even after we are saved. (Romans 7:15-21) We are all human. We are all sinners to begin with and that’s why we must be saved. (Romans 3:23) The awesome part is that God, knowing we would still mess up after salvation, still saved us and still wants to use us in His service.
Secondly, to those who think missionaries are perfect, I want to encourage you to get to know your missionaries and their wives. Realize that they, like you, are also human with the same struggles and fears that you experience in your life. They, like you, have the same types of problems that you have in marriage, with raising kids and dealing with finances. By spending time getting to know them, asking them questions, and by building a relationship with them (in person, or through email or facebook), you will, not only be better prepared to know how to pray for them, but you will be able to see for yourself that God uses normal people.
Finally, to my fellow missionary wife friends, I encourage you to be real. I understand how difficult this can be. It is completely against our pride. “What will he/she think of me if I reveal that I have issues that I deal with daily?” We can’t be afraid to show others that we don’t always have it all figured out; that we don’t have all the answers; that we haven’t “arrived” spiritually speaking. I also know that there is a time and a place to do this and we don’t want to spill our every struggle to everyone we talk to, but, when given the opportunity to share about a struggle that you are going through or have gone through, share it. It’s okay to be honest. Now, we can’t share these things for the sole purpose of complaining or “venting”, but we should be willing to share them for the purpose of pointing others to the One who is stronger than us. Use that struggle to show that God can still use our lives in spite of us and He doesn’t just give up on us when we fall, but rather uses our weaknesses to show Himself mighty. (2 Corinthians 12:9) He is a loving God who desires to use everything in our lives (even our mess ups and struggles) to bring glory to Himself.
I pray that you would be reminded and encouraged today, that God can and will use you, not because of how awesome you are, but He desires to use you in spite of you! He’s a good God!
Love and blessings,