As I prepare to return to the States for furlough at the end of next month, I can't help but look back at my first term on-field. I am thankful for a team that has lifted me up, encouraged me, sharpened me, and supported me. This includes my on-field team, but it also includes you. Many of you have petitioned the Father on my behalf and have given of your resources and time.
These past 2 years have been some of the hardest of my life. I have faced moving to a new country, trying to assimilate to a new culture, frustratingly not being able to communicate because I don't know the language well, economic collapse, political downfall and corruption, spiritual attacks, personal trials, a pandemic with a lack of medical capability and capacity, 10 months of government-imposed isolation, contracting Covid, and emotional and mental struggles. I would love to tell you that in the midst of all of this, I continued to lean on the Father for strength. However, this is not what happened. I questioned. I doubted. I yelled. I wept. I got angry. I turned to idols for comfort. I failed.
Why am I telling you this? Well, for two reasons. First, I want you to know that I mess up. I love where my Father has led me and the work that He is doing here, but that does not make me somehow stronger or more in tune with Him. I still battle sin and I fail miserably. Second, I need to point out to you all of my failures and downfalls so that you understand this next sentence: He was still faithful.
In spite of me failing and sinning and trying to tell Him what to do, He never once gave up on me. He still pursued me. He still used me. His love for me did not waver. It did not falter. It was unmoved. In spite of me rejecting Him at times, He continued to uphold me with His right hand. He is faithful.
My furlough, or home assignment, will be for 6 months this time. I am looking forward to a time of rest, of visiting friends and family, being in my home fellowship, and visiting partners of the work here.
So, what's next after I return to the field in January 2022? Well, I will continue learning Arabic. That is a lifelong venture. However, it will no longer be my sole focus as I hope to begin to take on more responsibilities. I have several plans for outreach and community engagement that I am incredibly excited to begin if the Father will allow me.
Looking back, it is easy to become discouraged at all the things that happened and how unfortunately I responded to them. However, while I trust that He is sanctifying me in those areas, I know that it is not ultimately about me. Instead of focusing on my failures, I choose to focus on His faithfulness and steadfast love in the midst of it all. And as I look to Him, He will continue to reveal any wicked ways in me and lead me in the way everlasting. So, here's to looking forward.
I leave you with a couple of stanzas from a hymn that the Father has used to get me through much in these past 2 years. May these words ring true in your life as well:
Should persecution rage and flame,
Still trust in your Redeemer's name.
In fiery trials you shall see
That as your days your strength shall be.
When called to bear your weighty cross
Or sore affliction, pain, or loss,
Or deep distress or poverty,
Still as your days your strength shall be.
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