Dear Embarrassed John

All of us have experienced the pain of being sure something was God’s Will only to find out it wasn’t, we know that God is in control, but can’t understand why He took it away from us.  This situation really hit home for me in May of 2006 two months before I was supposed to leave for Melbourne.

That morning a week of camp where I was speaking had ended and after driving home on a spiritual high an email from a Missionary in Australia was on my computer saying there was a problem with my Visa.  The Immigration department had passed new laws which placed tighter restrictions on applications for permanent Visa’s which I couldn’t meet.

Unfortunately though my immigration worker personally asked his boss to give me an exemption eventually my Visa was rejected, which meant I left in January 2007 five months after the initial departure date.  This letter is something that John the veteran Missionary would write to extremely embarrassed May 2006 John.

Dear Embarrassed John.

Wow what a difference twenty minutes can make.  Less than a half hour ago you where driving home from camp praising God for His incredible blessings and sharing with your mother stories of how the Lord worked.  Now you are staring at a computer screen with a look of disbelief and a fearful heart.

Please don’t blame Immigration for this, it honestly isn’t their fault.  Many businesses have begun employing immigrants from other Countries and paying them very little, which means the workers almost immediately go on Government assistance and National Heath Care.  Obviously the Australian Government can no longer allow people to take advantage of the Immigration system.  That’s not really going to be a problem though because anger isn’t what you’re struggling with right now…embarrassment is.  

For the last three months you have been telling everyone at your Church that July 2006 is when you will leave for Melbourne.  The words “planning to” are always included but nobody really believes you won’t leave in two months.  They are already planning the big party in late June and people have started asking if you have your Visa yet.

Now for the first time you are forced to entertain the thought “what if I don’t leave in July?”  Soon you will have to do more than just think about that question but embrace it as reality.  At first in June there will still be a glimmer hope the application will be accepted as your Immigration worker personally asks his superiors to give approval.  But late that month you will get a phone call from Australia sharing that it has been rejected.  

Surprisingly that phone call won’t be the discouraging part, you already knew there was a good chance it would be turned down.  The pain comes as you must tell family and friends the departure date has been changed.  Every Sunday dozens of people ask if the Visa has been accepted with a look of excitement in their eyes, now you will have to watch that optimism turn to sadness.  Instead of a firm handshake or bear hug you will get a gentle pat on the back.

Nobody likes to experience embarrassment or failure in their lives…especially when so many people want to see you succeed.  But as someone who has served in Melbourne for five and a half years let me challenge you to view those humiliating moments the way they were meant to be.  Reminders that God is the one whose truly in control and we must rely completely on Him.  

It’s easy to get full of yourself as the date for departure comes closer and begin to secretly say “look what I did.”  This experience, and others like it, are God’s not so gentle reminders of our need for His help and provision.  So feel free to be discouraged during this period of humiliation, but make sure it leads you towards God instead of comfort food and self-pity.

Grace and Peace,

John

Published by

John Wilburn

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

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