Two weeks from today I will be taking a fourteen hour flight from Melbourne to Los Angeles and arrive home late Saturday evening. That long plane ride will give me a lot of time to think about the second term of ministry in Melbourne which began in January of 2010 and how the Lord has cared for me over the last two and a half years. A time to rejoice in the incredible blessings of God, look forward to seeing friends back home, and pray for the loved ones I left.
But this flight will also be a time to remember all the lessons that God has taught me about ministry over the last thirty months (most of them the hard way) and grow from those painful learning experiences. A few of the most important ones are shared below in hopes they can help others grow.
1. I Can’t Be a Poor Missionary Anymore: One of the goals that God has laid upon my heart is to raise a large amount of new financial support (as in “I am scared to tell you guys how much” large). The reason for this is the US economy crisis results in losing money when currency is exchanged and expenses in foreign Countries are rising so it’s impossible for Missionaries to minister properly being under-supported.
2. Focus on Developing Relationships Instead of Raising Support: When my support level started to suffer in 2011 I started focusing on raising more financial support which the Lord quickly showed was the worst thing to do since it emphasised my wisdom. Instead God called me to focus on finding His WIll for my life and develop close relationships with those who had an interest in my ministry. Through communication and sharing my burden the Holy Spirit would lead those who should give towards my ministry to do so.
3. The Relationship with Churches and Individuals Must Change: With the wealth of technology and social media there is no excuse for Missionaries to not communicate with Churches and prayer supporters on a regular basis (as in more than once a month). I have been truly burdened to use software and websites for communication about ministry and everyday life and help develop those real relationships.
4. Relationships Are Important: This is particularly true in the Australian culture where more ministry can usually be done over a board game and good friends than in Church on Sunday Morning.
5. You Must Understand the Culture: My second term in Melbourne has helped me learn more about the Aussie culture and fall in love with its focus on relationships, sports, and giving friends a hard time. It’s not always easy to forget your background and embrace the new culture but I can say from experience that it is definitely worth it
6. Be Yourself: I don’t necessarily fit into the idea of what people believe a Missionary should be (the swash buckling type who swings in on a vine and takes care of the problem right away like Rambo) but its been an incredible blessing to understand God made me that way for a reason…and my personality fits perfectly into the ministry He has for me here. Don’t worry though; I can still get angry if I ever need to.
I am so grateful that the Lord has taught me these and many other lessons over the last two and a half years and look forward to seeing what He teaches me next…hopefully it won’t have to be done the hard way