Hi Friends! Guest-wifey blogger here! Happy Tuesday from Indonesia!
One of the qualities I admire most about people, and the kind of people I’m really drawn to, are those with a truly humble heart. Back when I used to train small group leaders at our home church we used to say, “We’re looking for people who are Flexible, Available, and Teachable” and all of those valuable characteristics flow from a truly humble heart. When we choose humility in our lives and relationships we can be of good cheer knowing that Christ our Lord said He is “gentle and humble of heart.”(Matthew 11:29) And the Lord in His goodness finds good, healthy, helpful, and sometimes humorous ways of keeping those who love Him humble. Take moving your family to the country that boasts the largest number of “Cousins” in the world, as a sure-fire place to be gently, lovingly, graciously humbled.
Between Phil and I, before moving to Indonesia, we’d served on many short-term missions trips: Chile, India, Northern Ireland, Inner-city Los Angeles, Haiti, Mexico, Hungary, and Northern Ireland. We’ve been on work projects, outreach projects, and evangelistic projects. We’d played with orphans, fed AIDS patients, learned to pour concrete, and stuff like that. And, we LOVED it!!!! After every trip, we both felt that special feeling that indeed we were called to follow the Great Commission and “Go!” for the gospel. But what I can tell you, after actually living overseas for almost six months now, is that no amount of short-term missions work can prepare you for life overseas. Truly. And living in a place, and calling its people your people, calling their doctors your doctors, their streets your street, and their problems your problems is a vastly different experience than anything we’d ever scraped the ice on before. And once you come to hurt with a people, and love them enough to learn their mannerisms, gestures, language, and customs, you find yourself changed. Your heart changes in such a big way and almost nothing is more humbling.
When I was getting ready to leave my home church I shared openly with a group of women about some of the unique struggles cousin women face. I asked these ladies to consider covering me in prayer as I enter into the world of cousin women. One woman came up to me after the service and shared that at one point her husband said cousin people are the one people group he felt he could never love or accept. She asked me to join her in praying for him, that the Lord would soften (and humble) his heart.
Recently, Christianity Today published an article I pray you’ll all read. The article is called “A Nation of Suspect” and it brings to light some of the tension in our country between Christians and Cousins. What has made my friends and I, who serve, live alongside, and love Cousins, so sad though are the many many comments made after the article by Christians spewing venomous hateful language toward Cousins. It’s the kind of talk that limits connection and relationship. And sadly, it is the sentiments of way too many Christ-followers. If I could speak to a room full of those people, those who feel that Cousins are unlovable and unworthy of our time and attention, this is what I would say…
*Cousins helped us fix our roof this week
*Cousins actually serve to keep my family safe in this country, their home country
*Cousins change my son’s diaper when my hands are otherwise full
*Cousins sell us eggs, help us do our homework, invite us over for tea, and share the little food they have with us
*Cousins dress modestly, value marriage, despise abortion, and pray more faithfully than many of us
*Two Cousin women come to my home every weekday morning to help our family live, eat, and survive in this country. Their husbands go to a mosque every day, wear traditional head coverings, and when my little Jeremiah was so sick I hardly knew what to do, one woman cried with me: a cousin woman who loves my children almost like her very own.
Then, I would ask my friend who struggles to love cousins to humble their heart and remember that none of us deserve salvation. Indeed, freely we’ve received so freely should we give the love God lavished upon us through Christ. What a shame for us to determine that anyone is more or less worthy of God’s perfect love. His love is enough for all. And that is why we worship Him.
And you know what totally encourages my heart?! The Lord is working mightily in cousin nations, right. now. Consider the recent events in Egypt. When I first saw the photo of those precious, precious Christ-followers lined up I gulped down tears for two reasons: First, where there is persecution the gospel spreads! Second, persecution is happening in the nation that literally boasts Mecca for cousins. What that speaks to me is that Aslan is on the move! God is pouring out His spirit on cousin nations SO THAT cousins will call on the name of the Lord their God! Doesn’t that make you want to bow down in worship?! It does me. It humbles my heart because, if we ask Him to, God will let us be a small part of what He’s doing on the earth right now. It takes my breath away and it motivates me to live EVERY DAY with purpose, focus, clarity of vision, and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!
Friends that we love, let’s take time this week to pray three things:
1. That more Cousins would come to know the saving love of Christ Jesus
2. That God would give all Christ-followers a growing love and compassion for Cousins and a willingness to take big and small steps toward building meaningful relationships. (For helpful tools, resources, and information go to www.crescentproject.org). P.S. There are more cousins moving to the U.S. every year. You don’t have to be called to serve in the jungle to reach cousins right where you are.
3. That all of us would have humble hearts regarding our salvation and flowing from that, a heart to share the really really good news that brings us out from darkness into light!
Love You So,