Why did we leave behind nearly everything and everyone (outside of our immediate family) we knew and loved? Why did we move to an unreached part of the world where everyday life is more difficult? Why have we stayed through significant hardships and difficulties in Albania? Why do we also coach and serve missionaries in eight other countries? Why do we do this?
Last year, we field directors grappled with an interesting question. We were asked to think about and answer the question, “What is your ‘Why?’ Why do you do what you do, personally and professionally?”
We have certainly had our fair share of good reasons to leave and go back to where things are easier and most of our family and friends live, but it is not helpful dwelling on the negatives. We would rather focus on why we came here in the first place and why we did not leave when things got rough. Doing this helps to remind us that it is precisely because of our ‘why’ that we have remained in Albania through the ups and downs.
We realized we do what we do because of gratitude to God and obedience to our sense of calling to serve the people of Albania. We both deeply know this is where we are meant to be right now. But why?
God has asked His followers—even commanded them—to love their neighbors as themselves. Jesus made it clear in the parable of the good Samaritan that our neighbors are not always those who have something in common with us. Our neighbors are not just those who believe as we believe. Our neighbors might not even live in our neighborhoods unless we move into theirs. In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus commissioned believers to go and make disciples in all nations, repeating the discipleship cycle.
Perhaps our faith needed a boost, or maybe there were other reasons, but God made it exceedingly clear to us that He meant us to make disciples in a particular place with a particular unreached people group. He did this in amazing and unmistakable ways, which shaped and strengthened our why. We depend on God to make it possible for us to continue doing what He called us to until He leads us elsewhere.
So, when the local church administrator, also a foreigner, recently asked me why I have continued to work in what he characterized as hard, rocky soil, it reminded me of why we came here in the first place. When I attended a funeral in a small nearby village yesterday, and the family embraced me as we wept together, God reminded me of how He had called us here to be His hands and feet and to let His compassion flow through us to people who had not previously had the privilege of hearing the good news. Perhaps the compassion of Jesus is the best way to patiently break up and enrich rocky ground so that the good seed can take root and flourish.
We know Christ’s method alone will have true success as He measures it.
“The poor are to be relieved, the sick cared for, the sorrowing and the bereaved comforted, the ignorant instructed, the inexperienced counseled. We are to weep with those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice. Accompanied by the power of persuasion, the power of prayer, the power of the love of God, this work will not, cannot, be without fruit” (Ministry of Healing, p. 73.5).
Aligning with our why has been deeply rewarding, and we have come to treasure the people God called us to serve. They have been the most gracious of hosts, the best of friends and the most authentic community of believers.
What is your ‘Why?’ We are incredibly thankful for those of you who have accepted God’s call to join our team with your prayers and financial support. Our knowing that your why and our why have converged to reach the unreached of Albania for Christ gives us courage. May we remain faithful in these uncertain times and not turn back until our mission has been accomplished.