7.18.2012

Africa : The Outcome

......I've hesitated to write this post for a while now so as to avoid coming off as holier-than-thou.  Let me reassure you that I am a big sinner.  I struggle daily with idolizing our home, my comfort, financial security - you name it.  Thankfully, God keeps chipping away, stripping away my tendency to turn good gifts into gods.  I'm writing this to share how God is working in my life, to (hopefully) encourage you, and practically, to explain what would probably be some otherwise confusing changes in our lives.  Please read with a gracious heart......  

We decided that our recent trip to Africa was best called a vision trip - a trip to see if we might be called to serve in Africa full- or part-time, or if not, to see how we could better support and pray for the ministries there.  I'm slightly relieved and also slightly disappointed to say that we don't feel called to move to Africa (at least not right now).  The adventure of living in a new and exotic place is very exciting for me.  I grew up moving all over the world (my dad was in the Army), so three years is the longest I've ever lived in one place until now.  We've almost been in Georgia for four years now, and I'm seriously starting to get itchy.  I'm craving a change.  (Not that this is by any means the right motivation to move overseas as a missionary!)  But then again, the thought of leaving my family, friends, and church behind is heartbreaking.  (Not that this is by any means sufficient motivation to not move overseas as a missionary!)  And of course, the need there is so great - both physically and spiritually - that it would be amazing to be even a small part of ministry there.

For now, though, it looks like God wants us here.  But what should our lives here look like?  That's been the million dollar question since we got home.  We've been convicted in a few areas and are planning to make some changes that will hopefully allow us to serve in more meaningful ways and live out our gratitude for the great grace God has given us.

For starters, we have been convicted by how inward-focused our faith has been.  We are blessed to have a wonderful church that has solid, biblical teaching.  But we've realized that we've taken advantage of this by being just consumers of the Word and not multipliers.  We do so much learning, but so little outreach.  So we're praying for a practical way that we can be better at reaching out to the lost in our community.  Plans are hazy at this point, but we're hoping to meet with some people who are wise to the needs in our community so we can discern how best to meet practical needs while also introducing people to the gospel.

We've also been convicted about how we spend our money.  We give, but definitely not sacrificially.  Seeing how the missionaries we met in Africa gave up family and homes and jobs to reach people for Christ -- and remembering how Christ gave so generously of himself for us -- has opened our eyes to how carelessly and how little we give.  

Our biggest monthly expense right now, and thus the area that could be cut back most : our house payment.  I have to confess that when we bought this house, our attitudes were so very wrong.  Instead of asking what we really needed, or how we could best spend our money to glorify God, or how we could serve Him with our choice of house, our attitude was very much about buying the biggest and best house we could comfortably afford.
So we are selling our house and are hoping to find something quite a bit cheaper nearby so that more resources will be freed up for giving.  (And while I'd like to claim that our motives are 100% pure this time around, I have to admit that the itch for a change does have a part to play.  Thankfully God doesn't require us to be perfect to use us!)

All that to say, please pray with us as we make these big (though not moving-to-Africa big) changes.  We're stepping out without a whole lot of clear direction and hoping that God will show us where He wants us and how He wants us to use our time and money.  
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P.S.  If anyone knows of a good model for reaching the poor and/or unchurched in the suburbs, I'd love to hear about it!