What To Do When Missions Isn’t Fun

I have never really been a night person so there are only a few things that I enjoy doing at one in the morning.  Sleep is at the top of that list followed by deep sleep, dreaming that I am medieval warrior saving damsels in distress, or eating Krispee Creme Donuts (seriously there is never a bad time to eat Krispee Creme Donuts).  Unfortunately 1:00 doesn’t find me sleeping, striking fear in the heart of the dark knight, or enjoying a snack.  Instead I am doing something that’s necessary for a Missionary but I hate doing it.

There are a lot of things I love about being a Missionary.  Being able to teach Truths of Scripture to those who have never heard the Gospel, ministering to children in the surrounding community through outreaches, the sense of adventure you have when arriving in a new land, being first in line at Church potluck dinners so you can get the good kind of fried chicken.  But there are challenging parts to being a Missionary:  The sense of adventure passes quickly and you find yourself in a totally foreign culture.  The people aren’t receptive to the Gospel, those individuals you disciple don’t change, the Church doesn’t grow quickly enough.

It’s tempting to avoid these challenges or become frustrated because of them, but those experiences are defining moments for ministry.  The Lord taught me this lesson early in my support raising ministry using the one part of the ministry I dreaded, calling Churches to schedule meetings.

Let me explain…every missionary who wants to schedule a meeting at a Church must do so by contacting the pastor by phone.  This seems easy enough until you realize how incredibly busy pastor’s are, they won’t usually be in the office, and when they are there, meetings are usually taking place.  So about 80% of the time when calling the Church I wouldn’t be able to speak with the pastor.  This resulted in two things, number one I started dreading the hour spent calling Churches since they probably wouldn’t be there anyways.  Secondly I developed a bulldog reputation as someone who would keep calling each week (sometimes two or three times) till he spoke to the pastor.

It actually got quite funny as the Church secretaries would recognize me by the sound of my voice  and greet me like an old friend, also I have a sneaking suspicion pastors mouthed the words “I’m not here” whenever I called.  Over time those calling experiences became something I hated and tried to avoid since it forced me to become John the bulldog.

I’m grateful that God gave me the strength to be faithful and eventually that dreaded hour of phone calling became a source of blessing as meeting after meeting was scheduled.  Years later on January 10, 2007 I arrived as Missionary in Melbourne which never would have happened if I hadn’t been faithful in doing something I dreaded.

We all have those things we hate doing and dread but looking back can see how those painful experiences were used by God.  Does that mean I enjoy calling Churches at one in the morning?  Well not really, but I realize the price paid with lack of sleep, and frustration will result in future meetings.

Maybe I am the only one who has learned the challenging stuff we hate helps us grow but I doubt it.  Would love to hear about things that were  initially painful or frustrating but the Lord later used to bless your life.  Oh and if you see the damsels in distress tonight let them know I will be there to rescue them soon.

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John Wilburn

Church planter, teacher, and disciple-maker in Barrouallie St. Vincent

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