​Belated Tears

November 22 2019

I found out that my friend had died when an email bounced back. Knowing her age, I had the immediate sense of "knowing" the reason why. It takes time for those email inboxes to either fill up or come to an end. So, I googled obituaries for my friend's name and state, and there it was, her obituary with her photo. She had passed away over a year ago, but the news didn't reach me overseas until nearly one year later. The news was old, but the grief is fresh for me.

This is not the first time I have had belated tears. Finding out after the fact, finding out in unexpected ways, not having an opportunity to share in the celebration of life and the telling of stories, that is part of missionary life. Belated tears shed in the presence of Jesus, a bittersweet celebration of the gift of a friend, coworker, supporter, and sister or brother in Christ.

When missionaries go back home, we have to catch up not only on the happy events but the sad ones too. For us, it might be the first time to see that empty chair at the table. So, if you see a tear well up in a missionary's eye, and there seems to be no reason for tears, perhaps it's a belated tear.

By OMS Ukraine missionary, Colleen Weaver

Tags: missionary life, missing out, grief,

A Week in the Life of a Missionary

August 17 2016

If you’ve ever wondered what a typical week of ministry looks like for our missionaries, here’s a quick glimpse from OMS Ecuador missionary, Jennifer Riggs.

Q: How many times a week do you visit people?
A: Each week, I spend two to four days visiting people.

Q: How do you know who to talk to?
A: During the short-term medical team trip we had in May, we asked patients if they would like a visit from us. We are also following-up with friends the Loja Challengers made the year.

Q: What’s a sample conversation sound like?
A: Me: Hi, anyone home?
Person: Yes, come on in. Have a seat (pointing to planks of wood propped up to form a bench.)
I ask about their health.
Me: I am sorry to hear that your knees are still bothering you. It comes from all of the hard work you have done.
Person: Yes, right now we are harvesting peanuts.
We talk about the harvest for a bit.
Me: The other reason why I wanted to visit you is to see if you are interested in learning more about what the Bible says about God.
Person: Yeah, that's fine.
Me: Wonderful. I would like to share a Bible story with you.
I share a story from the Bible like the prodigal son. We talk about the meaning and application.
Me: Prayer is talking to God about things. Is there something I can pray for you?
Person: Yes, my family, finances, and health. It isn't going to take very long is it?
Me: No. It doesn't have to take long.
I pray for them.
Me: Can I visit you again sometime, and I can share another story from the Bible?
Person: If I am home.
Person hands me a bag of oranges recently picked from their tree.

Q: What happens next?
A: We go back and visit those who invited us back. We share with them different lessons focused on salvation. Each time planting seeds of the Gospel. We ask them if they would like to accept Christ. If they do, we start discipleship.

Q: Are you partnering with a church?
A: Yes. We have been taking members from the church in Catamayo with us so that they can be a part of reaching out to their people. We also are partnering with an association of evangelical churches who have started a program called "Saturate Ecuador."

Q: What is Saturate Ecuador?
A: It is a church multiplication plan to saturate all of Ecuador with the Gospel. The idea is present the Gospel to as many as will hear. After each Bible story we challenge the people to find someone else with whom to share. Then as their friends and neighbors get curious, they show up to meet with us and then they go out and share with others. And a brand new house church is formed.

Q: Where do you go?
A: We travel anywhere between one and two hours away. To get to the town of Amarillos, we drive on a very curvy paved road for a little over an hour. Then, we go up a dirt single lane road for another 20 minutes. Then, some places we hike either up or down the mountain, sometimes up to 10 minutes. I really enjoy seeing God's creation as we travel to these remote places.

Q: Do you go by yourself?
A: No, we have a team of people we work with, including Tom and Susan Stiles and the Williamson family. We take turns. We usually go two-by-two. We also sometimes take some of the members from the church here in Catamayo.

Q: What progress have you seen?
A: We have been able to see God transform two women who were recently baptized. I have seen people who know God start growing more in their walk with him. We have seen several people accept Christ. And many who are excited to learn, who we pray for and are expecting to see them come into God's family.

Q: What do you do on the other days that you aren't out visiting?
A: Besides taking a day off, we have team planning and prayer meetings usually once a week. We also meet once a week with all of the OMS missionaries in the Loja area for a prayer meeting. On Saturdays, we go out and lead kids club, called Bread and Fish.

Q:What do you do on your day off?
A: I might paint, draw, work on puzzles, bake, or care for my potted plants. I have also gone into Loja to catch up and enjoy being with my friends that I miss. Since Catamayo is hot year-round, we sometimes go to the swimming pool and go down the water slides.

Q: What is your favorite part of ministry?
A: I enjoy seeing the church realize that they have something to share with the people. I love sharing Bible stories with people who have never heard them before. I also enjoy spending time with our team.

Tags: ecuador, missionary life, day in the life, evangelism, bible stories,

Musings of an OMS Missionary

February 26 2015

Religious visas arriving the day before departing for a ministry trip

Traveling the same route often enough to have airline and hotel workers recognize you and willingly help you out

Getting luggage and funds through customs with no problems

Spotting a familiar, smiling face in a sea of faces when needing to be picked up from the airport

Managing, somehow, to get loads of luggage and 4 people in a small car

Sharing meals and laughter with good friends

The luxury of purified water

A clean bathroom

Toilet paper

A hot shower

A bed

The joy of meeting new people in ministry, eager to do their part in carrying out the Great Commission

Making language mistakes that the nationals find so humorous they are bent over in laughter

Having experiences with fellow missionaries where you find yourself saying, “What happens on this field, stays on this field.”

Being served a meal in a national’s home with such love and generosity and knowing that they have sacrificed much in order to serve you

Being challenged and humbled by the faith and trust of those living a life for Christ where there are constant daily challenges

Having guests in your room … the 4-legged kind, like lizards and a frog greeting you from your toilet – ask David Long about that one!

Understanding that “right after class” can mean right after class, or it can mean 2, 3, 4, or more hours later

Making trips that are multi-purpose trips, adding hours to the expected travel time – but the trip becomes a journey – with coffee stops along the way

Stomach issues

A bathroom, any bathroom, clean or not, seat or no seat

The pleasure of being in a Caribbean country in January and February! Enjoying the pleasant breezes and temperatures, grinning at the nationals who believe they are going to freeze

Not understanding why something is happening the way it is – when it seems like it would make so much more sense for it to be done a different way

Warm, friendly greetings

Constant goodbyes, heartbreaking goodbyes. Not knowing when you might see each other again

Transportation is always an issue … and realizing how much we take for granted being able to jump in a car and go somewhere

Sounds from the neighborhood – singing, some good, some not so good; the sound of tools, whether they are real tools or invented tools; pots and pans clanging; talking, laughter, children calling for their grandmas, dogs barking, roosters crowing, old vehicles backfiring

Realizing the trash dumpster you throw your trash in is gone through by people looking for food or any kind of treasure

Beginning to comprehend the difficulty of living in a country where one has to make decisions about staying in the country or leaving the country and people they love if they have the opportunity to do so

The awe in being able to see evidences of where Satan meant something for evil, God used it for the good of His people and furthering his kingdom

And last but not least, the privilege of being a part of the OMS family and the body of Christ and serving him alongside one another

I wonder if Paul was thinking about these kinds of things when he said, “I have learned to be contentwhatever the circumstances.I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry,whether living in plenty or in want.I can do all this through him who gives me strength” ―Philippians 4:11b-13.

cannot say that I have learned to be content – I can, however, say I am learning to be content whatever the circumstances.

I’d like to close with Paul’s final exhortations to the Philippians. I think it is good advice for daily living the life of a missionary.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. … And the God of peace will be with you”―Philippians 4:4-9.

By OMS missionary Anita Yoder, serving as anOMS itinerant missionary in the Caribbean, along with her husband Rich

Tags: missionary life, caribbean, missions, travel, gratitude,