Obviously it makes me very glad as a father to see her serving the Lord. We are familiar with the stories of Christian missionaries throughout the last couple of thousand years, especially those women who have followed the leading of Christ into the mysterious sovereign hand of God. It is part of the DNA of our family. And she is continuing the heritage of service in difficult locations. We expect great things and wonderful stories of the move of Christ in and through her when she returns.
But this is not just a physical trip. It is also a spiritual journey in a broken world. There is a spiritual battle raging. She isn’t going to Haiti just to deliver shoes to children who need shoes. That is commendable. But it isn’t the whole story. There is another part of the truth. Living on this planet is dangerous business. Serving God carries no exemption from the dangers of this life.
Yesterday I read that Elisabeth Elliot passed on to glory. Elisabeth is best known as the missionary spouse of missionary martyr Jim Elliot. Jim, along with several of his team mission team members was killed by natives as they tried to take the Gospel into the jungles of Ecuador for the first time. Elisabeth went on to become an author and continued in ministry for decades after the death of her husband. She had a powerful testimony that included her forgiveness of the men who murdered her husband on a riverbed in South America, one of whom gave his life to Christ and joined Jim Elliot’s son in crusades to share the love of Jesus around the world.
Yesterday I also read the news of Lee Rickman, a Wesleyan school teacher from High Point, NC. Who lost his life in an accident while leading a short term mission team of young people in Jamaica. His parents have a perspective that is more than inspiring. “It was clearly a moment that God put in motion to call him home. That’s what it was,” said Tim, Lee’s father (and principal of Wesleyan Christian Academy). “As a Christian, there aren’t accidents. There are times when God speaks to us, and at that moment God called Lee home.”
No one is promised their next breath, regardless of their relationship with Christ. We who are in Christ may like to think that we are immune from actions by the enemy or the sometimes less than agreeable sovereign hand of God, but we don’t get a pass on attack or accident. But those in a right standing with Jesus Christ, forgiven, regenerated, and transformed, have a hope that is beyond this life. Our hope is not that we will escape in a glorious rapture. But that glory has already entered us and will rescue us in God’s way at God’s time.
The apostle Paul, a missionary who faced many adversities on this travels, wrote this to some Christian friends, “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of our affliction that took place in Asia; we were completely overwhelmed – beyond our strength – so that we even despaired of life. Indeed, we personally had a death sentence within ourselves, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a terrible death, and He will deliver us. We have put our hope in Him that He will deliver us again while you join in helping us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gift that came to us through the prayers of many.” (1 Corinthians 1:8-11)
As I write this sentence, the girl that I prayed would serve God all of her days is boarding an airplane as God answers that prayer. I don’t know what God has for her life. I don’t know if she will go on dozens of such trips, or if this will be her last. All I know is God is in her and will accomplish His work in her life. That’s the most reassuring thing I can know. I think Tabitha knows that the only thing more dangerous than following Jesus is not following Jesus. And there is nothing more fulfilling.
Today you are stepping into your missionfield. There are no guarantees for you today, except that life is dangerous, and if you follow Jesus He will walk with you. Live today like it may be your last. Better yet, live today like it may be someone else’s last day.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.