Thursday, October 3, 2013

Stay the Course: Pure Joy Mongolia, part II

So what’s the point of doing a retreat for missionary women?
Our first team devotional was from Isaiah 52.7: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’”  The missionary women to whom we ministered already know the good news of the gospel. However we were bringing the good news of encouragement, the good news that they’re being prayed for. We were going to remind them that God does indeed reign.

It was humbling to stand in the room with 44 missionary women who are on the front lines of advancing God’s kingdom. They have struggles and shortcomings and family drama just like the rest of us, but unlike the rest of us, they’re dealing with these issues in a foreign country without the familiar comforts of home. This is why the Pure Joy ministry is so crucial. One of the women put it best when she said, “Last week I was ready to cash it in. But now I see that I’m not alone.” Our team left Mongolia at the end of the week, but those 44 women will continue to be a network of support to one another.

These missionaries are working around the clock to push back the darkness in Mongolia. They came to the Pure Joy Retreat and for those few days we held darkness at bay for them, until they could receive the filling they needed to head back out to the front lines.

What was your most meaningful experience of the week?
This will sound dramatic, but nearly every moment of the week was meaningful to me. However I've got it narrowed down to two:
First: I was privileged to minister alongside two women who are dearer to my heart that I can express in a blog post. I mentioned Mrs. Pam already-she was my roommate for the week, and we had such a wonderful time laughing, crying, and processing this experience together. She has never failed to point me to Jesus when I come to her for support or advice, and she loves me well. Her life glorifies Jesus, and she is my role model in more ways than one. Also, Penny. She has known and loved me since I was an insecure eighth-grader in the youth group where she volunteered. Her unconditional love for me over the years has helped me better understand the love and grace of Jesus. Our hearts connect on a different frequency from everyone else.

They didn’t know each other before this trip, and it was so fun to see them grow to know and love one another while we were in Mongolia. My heart was overwhelmed with thankfulness more than once as I would catch glimpses of them while going about our assigned tasks.

Second: An extra special encounter I had during the week was with a missionary I’ll call Mary (not her actual name). At 79, Mary is a lifelong missionary who has been in Mongolia for more than 20 years doing prison ministry. I had the privilege of spending some time with her, and I can’t say I’ve ever been touched so deeply by anyone after only 2 days of knowing them. Mary and I visited for awhile late one evening. She told me about the ways she has seen God move and some of the adventures He has taken her on. As Mary shared with me about her remarkable life, she looked at me and said, “now Corley, don’t think I’m wonderful. God did it.”

I wept that night as I reflected on our conversation. I have tried to articulate why I was so moved by my time with Mary, and I never feel like I do a very good job explaining.

Mary’s life is upside-down from what the world says we should accomplish. But that has never stopped her from following Jesus to the end of the earth, and there has never been a time when God has not taken care of her. Mary brings light into one of the darkest places on the planet, to people who desperately need it. Yet she doesn’t want any credit or recognition.

Culture tells us to get married, have kids, buy a house, save for retirement. Be safe. Be comfortable. But Mary and the other missionaries have shunned what the world says is successful. God’s kingdom is her main concern, and by kingdom standards Mary’s life is a huge success. She’s someone with a lifetime of serving Jesus under her belt, and her message is “It's worth it.”

I want that.

When I’m 80 I want to still be fighting the good fight and saying, “don’t think I’m wonderful, Jesus did it.” My fervent prayer and hope is that Mary was a glimpse 50 years into my future. No matter what adventure God calls me to, I want to still “be singing when the evening comes.” And Mary sang, y’all. She sang with her hands high in the air, and I was overwhelmed by the significance of it all.

We went to Mongolia in order to encourage others, but I received as much as I gave. There is much I will hold close to my heart as a result of my time there, but what stands out most is the encouragement I received from Mary. She didn’t say this out loud, yet her life proclaims it: stay the course.

Stay the course.

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6.13

God, may I be found standing.


1 comment:

  1. Next time preface this with, "grab your tissues" thank you Corley!