Hi friends and family!
I am writing after reflecting on nearly a full week of orientation in preparation for my time in Nigeria. I actually will be leaving on my first flight heading towards Nigeria this evening, which seems so incredibly unreal to say!
My week with SIM at orientation has been wonderful, stretching, and so very encouraging. I have had the opportunity to meet many wonderful new people, brothers and sisters with whom I have shared sweet fellowship and challenging training sessions. Many have already departed to fields of service all over the world. One thing that has struck me in my time spent here is how easily and how quickly deep friendships form between those who share a common passion. In this orientation group, we have all shared the passion of serving God and making Him known. I think now, more so than many times in my life, I have understood what Peter meant when he wrote of the “unity of mind” that is desirable among believers (1 Peter 3:8). It has been so evident to me that despite being in the midst of a diverse group of people from many walks of life from all over this country (and even outside the United States), we all share a unified mind that seeks to glorify the Lord among the nations. It has been incredible to see a group of nearly twenty strangers so quickly become dear friends, and I am so grateful for this time. I will miss their fellowship on the field in Nigeria, and look forward to hearing updates from SIM’s “darn millennials!”
I am also incredibly grateful for the wisdom that was shared with me this week in orientation, as veteran missionaries took time to mentor and patiently teach us lessons about evangelism, servanthood, cultural adaptation, and many other topics pertinent to missions work. Those I worked with this week were encouraging, willing to answer many questions, and persistent in promoting thoughtful reflection on what we were learning. Many of those we worked with told stories of their time spent serving in other countries, and I was fascinated with their stories of the challenges and blessings of learning new cultures and of God’s provision in the midst of seemingly impossible circumstances. It was so encouraging to hear stories of God’s faithfulness played out in these missionaries’ lives, and to have great hope for how He will show His faithfulness in my own life this summer.
In reflecting on my orientation experience, the concept that kept coming back to my mind was dependence. Dependence was the topic of the first devotion we shared during morning chapel, and it was a concept that the Lord continued to impress on me and convict me with during my week here. It is so easy in my comfortable, regular routine to operate on a functional autopilot that almost entirely excludes God from participation. It is so easy to allow my pride to make an idol out of my own self-sufficiency. Yet in the lessons I have worked through this week, I have been awed by the immensity of the task of missions. It is not something that can merely be added to one’s schedule, or done by sheer force of will. It is a colossal task that requires a greater degree of maturity, servanthood, patience, and intelligence than I can possess in my own strength. The solution, then, is not to seek sufficiency, but rather to seek dependency. Only in Christ can I find the ability to work faithfully to complete the task of sharing God’s glory among the nations. It seems paradoxical to find peace in recognizing my own inability, but I have been reminded that this is the way we honor the Lord. Not by seeking to become capable, confident Christians, but rather by recognizing our abject failure and inability before a holy and perfect God. Dependence is a scary word, and often our society makes it into a bad word. Yet there is nothing more beautiful or fitting to our Savior to see us entrusting our lives and depending on Him to fulfill the good work He has begun in us (Philippians 1:6).
I am so very grateful for this opportunity to learn and grow so much within a week, and for the rich community and fellowship I have shared. My friends, I cannot wait to share with you in the future all the ways in which the Lord demonstrates His greatness and faithfulness in Nigeria this summer. But in the meantime, I would ask for prayer as I prepare to travel today. Just ask that God will work to provide safety for myself and my fellow intern (Joanne) as we travel, and that He will grant us favor with customs officials as we enter Nigeria. May God bless you, friends!