by Jill Lienemann, Kesher International Missions | ©2012
“But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment.” (James 5:12 NIV)
When I returned home from my first mission trip, I was deluged with lots of questions by family and friends. The hardest one to answer was, “Will you go again?” This journey had been a real challenge for me. The constant companionship of others got on my nerves as I was used to living on my own. Fellow team members said unkind things to me and hurt my feelings. I struggled with getting enough sleep to function and keeping my stomach full from the limited selection of available food. All of these things compounded together tested my self-discipline to be joyful in all circumstances.
Yet I felt God stirring my spirit and challenging me to consider something more than a life of status quo. When the need for people to continue the ministry work in Russia was presented, my interest was piqued. Was I ready for long-term missions? Weighing the pros and cons (or as Jesus states in Luke 14:28, “count the cost”), I decided that this current opportunity was not the one for me. On the other hand, I didn’t shut the door completely to something in the future.
A few months later, I was invited to participate on the mission committee at my church. Then the Lord began to shift some things in my personal life which resulted in my accepting the call to a one-year missionary placement helping a church plant in Texas, a place having a unique culture of its own and far from my home in the mid-west. After my second year of service was completed, I worked on other ministry assignments with different organizations, each providing opportunities for me to hone my skills and talents. In addition God was teaching me to rely on Him alone for my provision and direction. He was transforming (Ephesians 3:18) and molding (Jeremiah 18:6) me in preparation for His future plans for my life (Jeremiah 29:11).
In His timing and after several more mission trips, God has brought me full circle to the place where He had planted the seed in my heart for missions. I now actively participate in a global prayer group, support individuals going to the mission field with finances or prayer, assist others to send teams globally to reach people for Christ and advocate for best practices in short-term missions for long-term impact. God used my “maybe” as an open door to say “yes” to something I couldn’t have imagined solely based on my first mission experience. “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20 NLT
KESHER PRAYER (connection): Lord, now that I have returned home I do not want my heart to be hardened by the negative experiences I had on my mission trip. Please help me to remember Your works and talk of Your deeds (Psalm 77:11-12). I will foster a willing spirit and open ears to hear Your voice and be obedient to do whatever You may ask of me so Your kingdom can be expanded here on earth (Matthew 6:10). In Jesus’ name, Amen.