Today marks my final hours as a Writer for Mission Network News. It’s going to be really odd not coming in every morning, figuring out what happened over night and gathering stories from all over the world. It’s going to be odd not getting to talk to unbelievable missionaries and inspiring speakers every day. It’s going to be odd no longer writing about God’s work around the world in a news setting. But I will take with me everywhere all I’ve learned here. Before I take it though, I wanted to share a few bits of it with you. The following is a shorter list than would ever suffice as a thorough explanation of how MNN has shaped me. But here are some of the major things I have discovered:
God is doing far more around the world than I could ever imagine.
It’s impossible to work at MNN and not have a change of perspective. Every single story we write talks about how the Gospel is spreading worldwide, yet there are millions of stories that go untold. As I write every day about God moving in Mozambique, Iran, China, Brazil I see how small my view of God’s work is. He is not just working in my life, or my church, or my family. He’s appearing in dreams to Muslims who’ve never met a Christian. He’s booming his church in nations actively persecuting his followers. He’s working in the hearts of young children, drawing them to himself, and then using them to bring their families into his kingdom as well. He’s rescuing victims of trafficking, abuse and neglect. There are amazing stories in America to be sure, but the longer I’ve been here, the more I see there are amazing stories everywhere. God’s hand is moving in every nation, and I’ve gotten to be a part of it through writing and prayer.
Prayer is not just an item to check off the list; it IS the list.
In every single interview I’ve done, pastors, missionaries and ministry CEO’s have asked for prayer. Prayer for lights to go on in young, dark hearts. Prayer for church movement in closed nations. Prayer for dictators to rearrange their hearts. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard that “prayer is the most important thing.” I can’t say that hearing this over and over — and then hearing how God answers — has transformed my prayer life into something like Christ’s. I can say though I am at least much more likely now to get on my knees while writing a story, or more likely to remember Syrian refugees while I’m praying in the morning. I never would have thought to pray for Muslims during Ramadan if it weren’t for hearing continuously how vital that is. As Doug Hutchcraft recently told me, God says he knows our prayers before we speak them, but he doesn’t say he’ll answer them before we speak them. I guess we had better pray.
Missionaries are not unapproachable weirdos.
To those of us not on the missions field overseas, missionaries can seem a little out there. People that voluntarily live in huts and eat local bugs? Weird. But the more I’ve talked to missionaries the more I’ve seen that they are ordinary people who have simply responded to God’s Great Commission call. What I find is that most missionaries are really easy to talk to, but often have a much deeper faith than mine. Possibly because their faith has been stretched in ways mine has yet to be. I’ve also discovered that missionaries come in every form: electricians, agriculturists, translators, teachers, grandparents, young families. The list is never ending, and there’s a need for people in every working field somewhere. You’d think God specifically planned our likes and dislikes for ministry or something…
I am often envious of the persecuted church.
This probably sounds really strange. I don’t mean I wish I were being beaten, tortured, attacked, bombed or raided. But I have discovered many things about the persecuted church in the last four years that have made me admire those suffering for Christ more than any other believers. For one thing, an interesting phenomenon takes place worldwide: the more persecution the church faces, the more it grows. This seems to be the case about 90% of the time. As God’s people are targeted, more people seem to want to know about Christ. Take Iran, for example. It’s 5 on the World Watch List but has probably the fastest growing church in the world.
Secondly, those who have been persecuted for their faith are often strongest in their walks–even without access to Bibles or podcasts or church buildings. We have had people in the MNN office who, when asked how we could pray for the persecution to stop, have laughed in our faces. They ask not for an end to it, but for wisdom in responding in a way that reflects the Lord, and for opportunities to share his name. It’s not that these believers enjoy persecution or want it. They just take John 15:18-25 seriously. Personally, I think if someone beat me for telling a friend what I thought about Jesus, I would be a little scared off. Believers who are not able to practice their faith in the open, who would rather face physical hardship than spiritual loss, have become the greatest examples of faith to me. I am envious of their zeal and faithfulness to the Creator.
I have a responsibility.
To give, to pray, to do. I am not off the hook for the Great Commission just because I live in America and am not a “missionary.” If I have more than I need, I’m responsible to help fund God’s work through missionaries. I’m responsible to help those in need around me. I’m responsible to pray for those suffering as if I myself were suffering. I am not any less called to spread Christ’s name just because missions work is not my full-time occupation. As a follower of Christ, I have a responsibility to be a light–wherever I go.
Heaven is going to be filled with unbelievable people.
Ok, I knew this before I started working here. But I’ve met some of my favorite ever Christians here. The people working at the ministries we partner with are incredible examples of dedication to Christ. I am going to miss interviewing these exceptional believers. But whenever I think about that, I stop and realize I’m going to get to spend all of eternity with Tom Doyle, Todd Nettleton, York Moore, Carl Moeller, Ron Hutchcraft, Mark Lewis, JP Sundararajan, Teresa Flores, Ruth Kramer, Greg Yoder, Sharon Felton, Lyndsey Gammage and the list goes on for pages. Praise God that I will have eternity to get to know all of these people better, to keep sharing thoughts and experiences, and to rejoice together in the work of the Lord. I would guess I’m far (relatively) from dying, but when I do leave the earth, it’s going to be a grand reunion!
Thank you to all who have read my stories, believed in my abilities, and responded to the call of the Lord as a result of MNN. My final plea: keep “doing” for the Lord. Let MNN be your guide in how to do that; they’re pretty good at it.