John and I were asked to write an article in the B2B magazine and here is what we submitted:
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust!”’ Psalm 91:1-2
These verses are trying to come alive to John and I and our family. Moving to Nigeria has not been one of convenience or ease or even comfort of any form and we are still recognizing this six months later. One of our first blog entries about Shelter was this:
So, I want to learn of His shelter. I want to learn of the fruit of rest that comes with it. Can I pray my way into His shelter? Is it a frame of mind? I cannot imagine it being a tangible place, is it really just about relationship?
Well, these are the questions I start this summer with and look to His Scriptures for answers and lean on the Holy Spirit for leading and ultimately look to God for it is Him that I am really seeking, ultimately, isn't it?
Two and a half months later, I find that Shelter is meaning more than what I originally thought. Who I know God to be, THAT is my shelter! So, the real question that comes to my mind is who is this God in whom I trust. Who is He? Do I know? Does John know? Is He a small and weak God therefore my shelter is puny and not providing much rest? Or is God so large that I cannot get out from under his refuge?
The last six months have been pretty interesting for us. It has been humbling for John and I to be here and recognize how different the culture is. We so desperately want to know how to communicate in a way that does not offend and want to build bridges that will lead into what Christ has already started here. The Lord is moving here in Jos and at times it seems that everyone is on the same banner besides us and then at other times, I think how could we be anywhere else.
One thing we both have learned is it is not easy being on the beginning side of a ministry. There is a lot of effort and energy put forth with very little return. Like when you are raising a baby. You are constantly working towards the growth of this little life in front of you, every decision is made for the betterment of the baby, but then you go to this seminar and you realize by decisions you just made “for their best interest” mind you, is now going to deter them from ever being able to make something of themselves. Or at least that is how you feel. Every thing seems to be instrumental and every perceived failure seems as if you have just stunted the growth of your child and you weep and feel sorrow because you love this baby, but now it will never go to college (I hope you are perceiving the sarcasm).
That is how we feel. Every decision seems to be pivotal and we can feel as if we are making them blindly, and half of the time we are moving forward and the other half we are weeping because we just caused years of backsliding.
So, to see God in the midst of these “successes” and “failures” and recognize He is our shelter for the good and the bad, is really the only thing I know to cling to. My view of God needs to increase and enlarge, and I believe by living here He is growing me in a deeper understanding of who He is in both the good and the bad parenting moments. I do believe as John and I are making decisions we will mature and watch this ministry in Nigeria mature and realize that nothing can permanently stunt the growth of anything that God has already stamped his approval on.
We would ask that as many of you as possible would consider visiting Jos, Nigeria and see first hand how God is moving here and growing up a field that is ready for harvest. The need is great, but the workers are few.
At the beginning of this article we mentioned that there was nothing easy about living here, that is of course, not true, but as in raising a child, in the moment, you see the constant work but hindsight is beautiful. We both know for a fact, this is where we need to be to be obedient. We cannot lose sight of His shelter and He is the one growing this ministry. John and I and our children might find that there is something deeper within us that he has created but we have never leaned on before. Who knows, but I do know that our eyes will not look to the hardships or the adventurous moments, but our eyes will remain fixed on Him, the Author and Perfecter of our Faith (Hebrews 12:2). And as we grow and mature, so will our family and so will this ministry and so will all of you who choose to come alongside something bigger than your perceived failures and successes and be a part of growing a life to a place where Christ is glorified and therefore you are changed.