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Years ago, I left for Asia Pacific with three little boys who were five years of age and under. There were a million things that took getting used to. Too bad I wasn’t writing then, because now I just have those hazy, happy memories of our first years. However I do remember that it didn’t take long for me to identify the thing I missed the most.
Unfortunately the missing never got any better, never dulled over the years. It was always a constant companion that would hit at the most unusual times or just about any time. I remember one time in particular I had just arrived back on the field after a home assignment. We rushed to get over jet lag, and when we entered the crowded room where our field’s annual conference was being held, everyone was singing. I looked up to see a coworker leading music. She has always reminded me of my sister, and I began to cry. My sister and I are four years apart in age, but we are as close as twins in our hearts. I love her so dearly, and the time we are apart is a really hard thing about living on the other side of the world.
But today I am on her side of the world! Today she is just a phone call away! In fact, I just got off the phone with her a few minutes ago. We can talk to each other every day if we want, and we don’t have to coordinate over the 13-hour time difference. Her daughter doesn’t have to go to bed talking about how the sun going to wake up her “aunt sister” who is on the other side of the world. (Yes, that is what she calls me because my sister calls me Sister, but that is a confusing family matter that needs an article all to itself). My nephews don’t have to see me only on a Skype screen. I want to soak that up while I am here in the USA. I don’t want to take it for granted. I am just an eight-hour drive away! Her family has already made the drive twice to come see us since we have been back, and they will be back again next week!
I know that missing my sister has been a necessary sacrifice and one that I will do again. Sometimes choosing paths of discomfort is necessary.
I think of Psalm 67:1–4, which says,
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy.
This is the prayer of the church. We want the peoples of the earth to enjoy the good things that we have in Christ. We want them to be able to come into a right relationship with their Creator. That means some of us have to go and live with them to be able to communicate that to them.
Paul’s letter to the Romans 10:9–15 says it like this:
Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
So now, as I sit on this side of the world, my thoughts often go back to the other side, to our home in the jungle. There are faces that come to mind, and I am so thankful that they now know the Lord. My sister and I have missed out on a lot of special things, and I don’t take that lightly. However, my tribal friends aren’t going to miss an opportunity to know their Creator—and that is worth the sacrifice!
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