Finding My Voice On The Mission Field

I’ve been reflecting on how to do ministry after receiving my bachelor’s degree in Biblical studies from Anderson University and being in the mission field for about three years. I’ve encountered a number of very different approaches by various organizations and missionaries during my time as a missionary. I continue to learn every day that ministry itself is not a black and white matter of how things should look or operate. It’s a very often a gray issue of pursuing the model Christ set for us during His time doing ministry on earth. AND, it can be really messy sometimes.

In a dream recently, I stood before the Lord with a women standing next to me. She was a woman from one of my groups, but I could not make out her face nor did I know her name. We stood together facing the Lord. Then the Lord said, “Claire you have helped her a lot. You taught her some skills, you fed her and helped her get a job but…I don’t know her.” My heart stopped. I realized I missed the mark. I was awoken in a sudden panic, a sense of urgency and deeper propose from then on. I have spent much time in prayer, reading the Bible and discussing this dream with many life mentors. I’ve realized more clearly now that I need to focus on long-term discipleship as the central part of my ministry. I began reading and studying Matthew 28:19-20, “As you are going make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Christ’s emphasis was clearly on discipleship even though He did other things such as feed, heal and preach.

So Christ says to go and make disciples, what exactly does this mean? Discipleship is more than just a once a week bible study, but truly doing life together with people. It’s about walking through the good times and the challenging times together, encouraging and praying together, helping each other Prays at Lydia Circlegrow to be more like Christ. Ryan Massey, one of my pastors at SouthBrook Christian Church defines discipleship as “the journey of knowing Jesus, and learning to be and do like Him.” Jesus’ ministry model can be summarized into 4 sections:

Come & See: See what Christ is all about. Hear about the Bible, His teaching, testimonies. Experience what faith is and learn who Christ is.

Seek: Gather deeper information about what a relationship with the Lord can truly look like. Ask questions and talk through any doubts.

Follow: Make a decision to accept Christ and the daily choice to live for Him.

Multiply: Go out and tell others about God and invite them to ‘come and see’ what faith in Him is all about.

When I look at these sections and think through the women from each of my groups I can see women covering each section and at these points on their faith journey that is very exciting! A lot of my ministry can be summarized by sowing seeds from the parable in Mathew 13: 3-8

A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

I want to make sure the seeds that I am sowing are being laid upon good soil like in this parable. For me discipleship starts even before the person accepts Christ. I work to build trust, to love, to understand her/his life. I try to prepare the soil by learning about their past. I want to be intentional with the seeds that I am sowing. I don’t want each seed to be a scatter shot and hope that it will grow. My goal and dream is to spread Christ, for people to experience the power of Christ and want to truly IMG_3263live for Him. Not just be a believer who attends church once a week and checks off the box that they completed it, but someone who is in deep connection and fellowship with the Lord every moment. I want to see multiplication of believers.

It’s not that I am the teacher and they are the student. It’s not that I only teach and they are there only to learn things, but instead I see us all on a journey of pursuing after the everlasting God. Trying to help each other become more like the person God created us to be. The best version of ourselves in God’s eyes.

I’ve also realized that in many cases we have to meet the physical needs in order to meet the spiritual ones, especially in a third world culture. Many of the ladies I work with describe days without food, wear tattered clothes, limited or no access to clean water, and no electricity.   James 2:14-17, “what good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” Many times when you meet those physical needs it opens the door with trust, for a relationship and for an opportunity to share Christ. Then the journey really beginnings!

The longer I am involved in ministry the more I realize that sustainability has become the popular buzz-word for many ministries and mission organizations. But isn’t sustainability when you break it down the ability to provide or “sustain” for yourself?

“Sustainability or sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” That definition comes from the Brundtland Report in 1987 that sets the standard for sustainable development, as we know it today.

IMG_5234As a follower of Christ I have felt very challenged by this concept lately. At what point should one be pushing or helping a person get to a place of sustainability instead of true dependence on the Lord? I’m missing the mark if I focus solely on things like skills training, crafts, hygiene classes or basic medical care. I think these are great things, but they have to be a side dish to the main meal of a relationship with Christ. If not, we as believers are breeding a culture that will struggle with their faith. They will have learned to put providing for their own needs before trusting the Lord to provide.   Philippians 4:19 states, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” The more we push sustainability the less trust in the Lord that occurs. Proverbs 3:5 states, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understands.”

So as I continue with the work the Lord places before me, I continue to seek Him and His still small voice for direction. I am in a season of my life that I have heard more from the Lord than ever before. I pray now that I will truly follow whole-heartedly after God and what He is truly calling me to do. Praying the same for you.

Empower a Woman. Impact Generations.

Lydia’s Mission empowers and teaches women skills in rural South Africa to feed, educate, and care for their children by earning a living wage. When a woman begins to grasp her value in Christ through discipleship and Biblical training, her life becomes the first ripple of hope…that will last for generations.