How to Love the Unlovable?

In ministry we meet many people. We teach many people. We run various ministries. Work with many leaders. Some are working on this sin and some that sin in their lives. We are all imperfect saints. We are all working on living for our Saviour – or we should be.  We have different personalities, backgrounds, training, experiences. All of these combine to make us who we are and help us in what we do.

Picture1 (1)But there are some people in this family of God that are just hard to get along with!  Maybe I’m one of them, but then again, I strive not to be.  I’m talking about those ones that come to help and then stand around doing nothing. The ones that talk about people behind their backs. The ones that judge others refusing to the see how far they’ve come. The ones that live in sin purposefully. The ones that blatantly ignore certain commands of God.

You can fill in the blanks with names of your circle or with other areas that are just frustrating. 

God give us patience as we deal with these people. We are in ministry we are supposed to love them. We are supposed to train them. We are supposed to be there for them. But sometimes they don’t want our help. They don’t listen to our advice. They bluntly tell us off. Then what?

When you see a brother or sister harming another in ministry, what do you do?  Do you stand up for them? Do you fight back in a sinful manner? 

Do you pray for them? Do you love them?

I don’t have the answers to these frustrating situations. I know that we each need to look at ourselves and make sure we aren’t being those stubborn saints harming those around us. We need to make sure that we aren’t judging. We need to seek to love as Christ loved us. We need His Spirit to work in and through us, empowering us to love and keep on giving even when it seems impossible.

And there are days when we need to find the support of godly men and women and get their advice on how to handle a situation.

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No Hurry In ….

Africa, South America, the Caribbean, etc…. You name it, there are tons of places that aren’t strapped to time as we are in the States and Europe.  How about in Scripture? Is there a hurry?

We can be fired from a job for being more than 10 minutes late three times in a month. Here you are lucky if employees are only 10 minutes late each day.  When does church start? Well that depends on if it rained or if the instruments are working or if there is a funeral in the village or if yesterday was a special event, etc…. no-hurry

Time is not to be worshipped or held on to. Relationship are however to be kept.  When you are on your way to work you need to stop and greet everyone that you pass when you live in the village.  That can take time.  When you are supposed to register for an event, you may or may not do so. In your mind you are most likely going but to let them know is to commit and that takes money and knowledge of the future.

When we plan events like conferences, seminars, classes, camps, school, etc… we can never really know who will come and how many to prepare for.  It can be frustrating when a week before the event only 1/2 of your expected number have registered. You begin to think, “Did I order too many nametags and too much food?  Have I not communicated with them soon enough so that they can find funds?  Have I done something to offend them and they do not want to learn from me?”

It makes some of us feel like we have failed in our responsibilities because people are not responding.  You begin to think how to rearrange a days scheduled teachings because everyone arrived 2 hours later than you planned to start.

Patience is a fruit of the Spirit and over and over again we practice that on the mission field.  To remind yourself that God knows and is in control of the situation is important. To not take it upon yourself as a failure on your part is also important.  To take time to greet people when you are late for something is important too.

Through Him we also have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice on the hope of the glory of God.  And not only this, but we glory in afflictions also, knowing that afflictions work out patience,   and patience works out experience, and experience works out hope.  And hope does not make us ashamed, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us.  Romans 5:2-5

Short Term Missionaries

DSC_0398I am a strong supporter of Short Term mission trips.  Without going on a Short Term Trip, I would not be a missionary today.  I think young people should all experience a short term trip.

That being said. There are beneficial short term trips and others that are glorified vacations. I’ve heard reports from some who talk about the sights, the swimming, the safari, etc….

I’ve heard others who spend all their time criticizing the locals for doing things in a way that seems backwards to their home culture. They come to “serve” but really they want to “change” things.

There needs to be an attitude change in many short term trips. Come to learn, to serve, to minister to the nationals and to the missionaries. Did you know that the epistles list names of people that were sent from churches to support Paul on his journey.  We need people to come and minister to us.

That being said, sometimes I’ve felt judged by visitors. They judge the fact that I have a cook and gardener. These are cultural norms in this place that I live.  I’ve had some call them slaves, they are employees and we are helping them in their lives.  Currently I employ a local pastor who gets little from his church and a single mother of 6.

Then there are the Short Term Missionaries who come for 6 months to a Year. They learn more than the 6 week team. They get involved in the local culture. But they also think they know it all and judge how the long term missionaries do things. They want to pay more for day laborers on projects and don’t seek advice. Now they are gone and we are left trying to get work done on our limited budget when they raised the minimum wage bar around here.

We need not get frustrated at these people, but be patient. We also need to encourage them to study the language and culture. To listen to those that have been around and watch and observe. We may have gotten stuck in a rut and their new point of view could be good, but only when presented in Love.

When I send a packing list of what not to wear and what to bring, I hope they would actually read it all and make notes and try to follow it.  I’ve had people come in clothing that offends the nationals. I have had others come with so little clothing that they raid my dresser often. I’ve had some come with half empty-suitcases when I had lists of things like chocolate chips to bring out.  (God give me patience,)

I’ve had guests that blessed me and others that were all stress. I’ve had teams that fought amongst themselves while others prayed with me. I’ve gone in the hole with some teams financially and others have left me a thank-you gift.

I could go on and on, but it is a paradox between the value and the frustrations of short term teams.  Yet I will keep recruiting each time I’m on furlough. I will pray with them and lead Bible studies, hoping that one day some of them may want to be missionaries too.