Saturday, April 26, 2014

What's it really mean? "Go..."

You know that moment when you read or hear something... and your only response is an emotional/mental, "Ouch!" ??

I had one of those moments the other day when I read: 
"One of the main reasons [insert your country... county... city... name here]'s churches are not ministering to a larger number of people is because they typically wait for people to come to them.... Many congregations seem to have become ends in themselves. They exist for each other and become preoccupied with themselves and their way of 'doing' religion. Lay ministry means nothing more than getting involved in running the church." (Dr. Reginald Bibby, Transforming Our Nation: Empowering the Canadian Church for a Greater Harvest, p. 302, 300-301)
I read that and started to wonder, "Could that be true? That even when we go as missionaries to far flung corners of the globe we still somehow wait for people to come in to find us instead of going out and sharing with them?"

I can only really speak to my own experience living, working and trying to minister in West Africa - but if I'm speaking honestly, spending most of my time with other expat friend and colleagues was certainly more comfortable. And there were times that it was needed and an integral ministry. Even after living in the same neighborhood for several years, stepping out into the community to visit with the ladies, trying to use my third language, seeking to understand a culture and way of thinking that was so completely foreign to me, always knowing that I was obviously a foreigner just because of the color of my skin.

I can also only really speak to my own experience living, working and trying to minister in Midland, Michigan - where my kids attend the Christian school that is a ministry of our sending church... where life seems to be consumed by school and church activities or by traveling and visiting with our partnering churches activities... and our little ones come to the "invite a friend to church" nights and realize they don't know anyone who doesn't already know Jesus or go to church regularly. 

So different from life on the mission field in Niger.

And I have to ask, where would we even fit getting to know someone else in to our way too busy lives? And why is "way too busy with so many church and Christian school activities" a tempting badge of honor to wear? As I speak with others, I don't think my family is the only family that struggles with this. So I think it is worth asking the question: Is it possible there are too many activities so that we can invite/entice people to church... but we're so busy either running or participating in all those activities we don't really know anyone outside of church? We are, effectively, waiting for people to come to us rather than going out and ministering to them!

A few weeks ago, my husband telephoned from work and told me to get ready to go out. He wanted to take me somewhere. I was reluctant. My always-too-long to do list of stuff that still needed to be accomplished around the house continued onto the next page. So I sort of just ignored him. When he walked through the door, he was insistent... and adamant that it would remain a surprise until I was in the car and on the way. So I threw on some "going-out" clothes, brushed my teeth and hair, added a few touches of make-up, gave the biggers instructions for babysitting the littlers and within fifteen minutes or so, we were on the way... a program called Thursday Night Together, a "happy hours" of sorts at our local Center for the Arts. One of the men where Tim was working was planning to go with his lady friend and invited Tim and I to join them. Once there, I sipped my water with lemon, ate cheese and crackers, listened to a Québecois folk music group play a few songs, explain about their instruments and give a little bit of the history of French Canadian folk music. We visited with this older couple and enjoyed sharing a little bit of what we'd seen God do in Niger over the past several years as well as hearing what this couple thought of God and ministry. We spent a few minutes actually speaking French with a few of the group members, talking about Québec and their travels in the United States.

It was fun.

More importantly, it was an eye-opening reminder. 

It was a reminder that just because I've "gone" as a missionary to a far away place, I've not received a pass on God's command to "Go..." when I'm not in that far away place.
  • For "Go... and make..." is what He's told me He wants me to do. Go is the first step.
  • Get out of my house. 
  • Step outside of my comfortable community. 
  • Unbusy and unclutter my life so that there is opportunity.
  • Step into places that may feel a little uncomfortable. 
  • Accept invitations when others offer hospitality, even if it looks different.
  • Find opportunities to interact with - ministering to and learning to love those who haven't, who aren't, choosing to come to me. 
And that's true whether I'm a missionary on home assignment, whether I'm a missionary working on the backside of the desert, or whether I'm any person in any church any where who claims to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Photo Credit - Bianca Bueno

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tuesday Topic: Patriotism?

Are you patriotic about the country you live in? The one you came from? Would you fly a local flag or make other outright statements about where you stand? What about your children? How well do they know the little patriotic things of their passport country (anthem, flag, etc)?

(If you have a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to me at Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, or specify if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Sunday Is Coming

It all began with a triumphal procession, shouts of joy and praise. As the week wore on, expressions would darken and the cries of “Save us!” would turn to rants of “Kill him!”

For His closest followers the week would be an emotional roller coaster unlike anything they had, or ever would again, experience. They were part of a chosen group, come to claim power at last for their people. By week’s end they were denying their Christ, and hiding their faces in the shadows.

They saw God die.

With their own eyes.

And then they buried Him, along with all their hopes.

Nothing made sense for His closest chosen. Betrayal and fear hung thick in the air. What questions did they whisper to God in the dark? What looks of utter confusion did they exchange on that most horrible of days? How could any of it make sense?

They forgot about the promised Sunday.

How easy it is to forget. Oh, how I so quickly forget. Lately it feels like we are living one long, dark, and confusing Saturday.  A very young man in our homeless ministry is terminally ill. He will die after a childhood of substance abuse because he was abandoned on the streets. A woman involved in one of our programs has left to find work elsewhere, and in all likelihood she will fall once again into the evils of prostitution and exploitation.

The darkness presses in, and we wonder why. Why are we here? Can we do anything? Was it all for nothing? Is there a way through the darkness?

But Sunday is coming.

And I forget, but I know. I know it is coming. Nothing is too far, too gone, too lost. The dark questions, the “God no!” that is whispered in the night is the reality of the Saturdays that we live, that all of us live in this world. We raise white knuckled fists to heaven because we do not know how we will make it through, we do not know how God will make a way. We do not understand how we can possibly bear the crosses that are given to us, and we cry and we hope and we press on, and sometimes we just want to give up.

But Sunday is coming.

May we not forget this week, as we move through the traditions, as we remember the passion, and as we reflect on the sanctity of what is holy and true…that although we may live in Saturday, the story does not end there. The story does not end in a spiral of misery, and there may be pain, and there will be questions. But there will be victory, and there will be glory, and there will be a life without end filled with joy and praise. Our struggles will not be wasted, our hopes will not be dashed. And one sweet day, we will see the sun streaming through the clouds.

Because Sunday is coming.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tuesday Topic: Inconveniences

This week's question, along with some of her thoughts, is from Betsy:

Last weekend I had a Turkish moment. Just after my 10th breakfast guest arrived, repairmen cut the water supply to our building! It was a surprise, so I didn’t have a chance to fill up any buckets or bottles beforehand. The water came back on at 8:30 pm, and on Monday it was cut again. In fact over the last 6 weeks, I’ve cooked a few meals without water, gone a few days without doing laundry, and had one 3-day showerless adventure.

I confess my patience is wearing a bit thin, and I’m thinking, “I’m too old for this.”

Looking on the bright side, inconveniences like water cuts on the field do keep us flexible, and God can use them to teach us the hard lessons of patience and contentment. Undoubtedly they’re part of His design to mold us into the image of His son, but knowing this doesn’t make it any easier!

Are water or electricity cuts part of your life on the field? What other inconveniences threaten to undo you?

(If you have a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to me at Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, or specify if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Letting go

Holding my then toddler son, I asked a mom of a teenager how she "let go" of her children as they grew up. With no hesitation she said, "letting go is God's process of our children growing up. It's a natural growing apart. If you hold on too tight then your children will not be allowed to grow properly into adulthood." I hugged my son tighter and said, "I'm so happy I don't have to face that right now."  

Oh, how time flies, doesn't it?  My "toddler" is now 21 years old. 

May 2012 - graduation night. (This Mama was holding on tight to that boy's arm.) 

Christmas 2013 - Antrim Family L to R - Jordan (21), Dale, Cherie, Ashleigh (17), Kaia (4)

This process of letting go hasn't been easy and, to be honest, it's not finished. Over the years I have been in denial of the process, embraced the process and I have seen how God's plan is true and right. My husband and I still have our moments of looking back on the pictures and wanting to hang on tight ... like how my arms ache to hold them as babies again. The right thing to do is let them fly. 

They can soar much higher without us tethered to them. 

Just recently I realized how true that is when Jordan called needing money. For the past year and a half he's been in a Master's Commission program in Stuttgart, Germany. Tuition is raised through family, friends, car washes, jobs, etc. Funds began to run low and he was faced with having to leave the program or come up with 700 euro. Jordan called worried, crying and questioning God. My first instinct was to protect and fix .... and then I realized I didn't have 700 euro so I cried with him and pointed him to the Word. I'm not his provider. Very hard lesson to learn. During this time my husband had an intimate conversation with Jordan where he shared that very thought ... we are no longer his provider. They talked, shared, cried a little more and prayed. Later, Jordan shared with me how he began to search the Word regarding finances. Jordan received a new revelation about finances, giving and tithing. God began to show Himself faithful and true over the next few weeks. It was an amazing process to witness. Money began coming in from unlikely sources. People who didn't even know him gave because they heard of the need. Envelopes of cash began showing up in the mail. God has proved Himself over and over in the last few months. He never had to leave the program and will be graduating in June. 

4 He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.   Deuteronomy 32:4 

I sometimes think, "What if I would have been able to pay the bill?"  I can't help but thank God for allowing Jordan to experience His faithfulness and goodness. Nothing compares. 

There's such a peace when we let go and hand our children over to God. Our realizing that we were never meant to be their provider, savior, or deliverer is freeing. 

If you have little ones, I encourage you to squeeze those babies a bit tighter today. Enjoy each day. Take lots of pictures. Make memories. Trust God. let go and watch them soar.

Has living overseas made "letting go" easier or harder for you? 


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tuesday Topic: Financial practicalities

Erin has another good question: "What are tips on converting money in a way that won't get you in trouble or cheated?" And I add a little more to that on my own: How do you handle getting money to you? bank transfers? ATMs? etc....

(If you have a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to me at Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, or specify if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)