This is the last post I will be publishing on this blog. After today, I’ll archive the blog content and start up my personal blog again at a different url. Thank you to all of you who have read about my ministry work, my short-term trips, my thoughts on theology, my recipes, and so much more over the past four years. After four years, it is time for me to leave my current position in ministry work and I’ll talk more below about that decision and the profound impact these past few years have had on me.
Since 2014, I’ve worked with Hillside Missions Organization and World Horizons USA, first as an intern, then as an extern in another country. After that, I came on staff as the Communications Director and, finally, I took on the role of Training Director to run the internship program in the organizations’ shared office this past spring. Recently, as I’ve alluded to in some other posts, there have been changes in leadership, organizational challenges, and interpersonal difficulties that have impacted each and every staff member here very deeply. The people still working for World Horizons USA are great, they’re doing good work, and I already admire where I know they’ll take this ministry in the future. Problems are being fixed, good steps are being taken, and the organization is already light years healthier than it was just a few months ago.
For me, though, it is time to go.
The past four years have done so much good for me, but there have been difficulties mixed in.
During this time, my world became bigger. I got to see in so many ways the glorious diversity that exists among countries, nations, and peoples. Getting to see different places and getting to know people who were raised very differently from me showed me that I have known and experienced only a small piece of the world and the beauty that all of its peoples and cultures have to offer. My experience in international ministry has given me a deep appreciation and respect for people I would have once considered the other. Mission work has taught me how to see so many different people as my neighbor, how to ask questions before I speak my own opinions, and how to view things as beautiful and valuable instead of strange and foreign. I’ve fallen in love with how vast and wide the world is and I would never wish to go back to a smaller view of it.
My job has demanded I try new things, meet new people, step outside my comfort zone, and challenge my own presuppositions in ways I never could have imagined. For that, I’m grateful.
Unfortunately, my time in ministry has also taught me that there are wolves in these woods. Not everyone demanding trust should be given it, not everyone who promises kindness will be good to you, and not every leader offering wisdom is truly wise. Just because I can do something doesn’t mean I should. Just because someone says I should do something doesn’t mean I can. While the past four years have made me work harder and do better work than I thought I was capable of, they also drained me in a way I wasn’t prepared for. Unfortunately, although I love Jesus, I am not always a cup filled to overflowing. Instead, because of the pace I set for myself and the expectations set on me, I am just a vessel poured out. To put it simply, I am tired. I am weary in my bones. And my God, do I want to do what is right, but my time in ministry has taught me that I’m useless in glorifying God if I’m burned out.
I want to do ministry work. I want to serve others. I want to do worthwhile work with my life. I want the world to be better because I was here. However, I don’t want my pride to lure me into sacrificing myself on an altar of productivity. Financial stress, long work hours, and an overabundance of tasks have not been good to me. With some time, I think I can figure out what it looks to have a fruitful ministry without ignoring my own need for rest and care in the process.
On top of all of that, my time in ministry has taught me the danger of arrogance and the need to honestly pursue God’s will. Learning about any great need in the world can and should shake you. For me, learning about the 3.2 billion people on Earth who are unreached, who don’t know a Christian, have never been to a church, who don’t know who Jesus is, or who have never heard the Gospel, changed how I view the world. This was clearly important, this was clearly something God wants the church to address.
The issue of unreached peoples is important, and I would contend it’s more important than many other causes, however arrogance made me judge people who didn’t see this issue as important as I did. Those people, I thought, didn’t understand God’s will, they didn’t understand the Bible like I did. I’ve learned, though, that it’s poisonous to think you have truth and everyone else just hasn’t discovered it yet. That sort of thinking presumes God spoke more clearly to me than anyone else, and that’s the mindset of a fool. Every Christian has exactly the same access to God that I do.
I want unreached peoples to know God, I want churches to be planted, I want to see good ministry work happen in countless places around the world. But woe unto me if I judge people because they don’t pursue ministry work the same way I do. There’s no love in judgement like that.
That brings me back to seeking God’s will. Because I was involved in ministry work, I assumed I knew God’s will, really perfectly understood it, with a confidence that made me stop praying and listening and asking, “God, what do you want next from me?” Why would I ask if I thought I already knew? Ministry, in good ways and bad, has taught me so much about always honestly and humbly seeking the will of God.
As I said, I love ministry work. I love mission. I want to serve God. I want to do something truly worthy with my skills and my time. Now I’m going to go have some rest and figure out what that should look like. If you’d like to pray for the decisions my husband and are making about our futures moving forward, I would really appreciate it. If you don’t really pray, then just say hi the next time I see you in person.
Once again, thanks for reading all these years. I’m sure I’ll have more to write soon.