(The following article was written as a response to an email from my friend, Kurt Jarvis, who was making a anthology of mission reflections and asked for contributions from friends.)
2015 and I had been asked to return to South Africa for a children’s ministry conference hosted by Ivangeli and my dear friend, Lisa Ekman. Lisa and her husband, Colin have been some of the “treasures in the fields” that I’ve discovered in 32 years of full time ministry.
However, in the beginning of that year, I started to experience a debilitating illness that put me at the crossroads of a breakdown. It was something I had never experienced before and was harrowing because I didn’t understand it or what was happening to me. After a few months of a severe depression, I finally went to a doctor. (I have no idea why no one suggested that to me or why I didn’t think that the problem might be physical.) The practicing physician took one look at me and told me I was having panic attacks. I sat there in shock. Anyone who has ever known me would be surprised to hear that I was struggling with any type of anxiety. Anxiety? Me?
It turns out to have been a simple case of chemical imbalance. Actually, it was simple enough that a small dosage of medicine took care of it almost immediately. However, I would spend the next two years working through the spiritual side of the issue through counselling and discipleship. But, that is only the backdrop for my mission reflection.
About the time I went to the doctor, I was considering cancelling my mission trip to South Africa. It would have been a gross misjudgment to minister to anyone in my state, let alone travel to South Africa and work with 1500+ children’s pastors over two weeks. I don’t even remember the sequence of events, but I can tell you they were extraordinary. God foiled every plan I had to cancel and at the last minute, I found myself on a plane to South Africa clutching on to my little bottle of medication and the faith I had built up in a miracle-working God over all those years.
He didn’t disappoint.
Although I didn’t know if it would, the medicine kept everything intact. But the miracle was how God used so many people in South Africa to minister to me. Colin and Lisa were brilliant and spoke to my soul at every level. I actually went away with Colin on a mini-retreat between conferences and he ministered to me as an angel of God in the desert. THREE (3) different missionaries that I worked with at the conferences were led to speak the same verse to me without necessarily knowing the extent of my story.
Psalm 37:25, “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.”
THREE. They were arrows that directly hit their mark.
Without any assurances, God put me on a plane and asked me to trust him in South Africa so that He could turn me around and set my feet on solid ground. Not only was it the beginning of my healing, it was the beginning of a five year journey that has led me deeper into a relationship with the person of Jesus Christ.
Missions. I trust God will use you as part of his plan to reach others. But I KNOW that you will be changed by trusting God in outreach.