I have been pondering in my heart this sudden grounding of travel and thus missions. My job is sending out healthcare mission teams around the globe. We have, or should I say had 58 teams going to 25 different countries in the next year. We have now grounded 14 of them with the end of our “no gos” uncertain.
On a much smaller scale, I have been here before. I was on a mission to Vietnam that was canceled two hours before I was to leave for the airport. I was informed a few days beforehand of this possibility, but as the time got close, I had my hopes up more and more. So, the sudden loss was so disappointing. I don’t have the time for details, but looking back on this just a few short months later it turned out that it was a blessing, as I used that time off to visit my aging parents.
I am sure most remember the Nicaragua protesting and crisis that basically shut the country down for over a year. Global Health Outreach (CMDA) sends 10 teams a year into Nicaragua, so this sudden turn of events was devastating to us. We had to cancel eight of ten missions that year. But mostly, many of our team members go back year after year. They have developed close relationships with our incountry director and his team there, and they were devastated.
We organized a relief fund to continue to help them financially while we were not able to go. Our hearts were breaking because it felt a bit like abandoning them in their time of need. So, if anyone is feeling that hurt and guilt, I understand. But here is the thing. While we did not go back for almost a year and a half, our mighty God and Savior was with them the whole time. And because no teams were coming in, they learned how to help each other through this tough time.
Many told us they realized they had strayed from the Lord and were brought back into his loving embrace through this struggle. When we were finally able to send a team back into a hurting country, we were superexcited and talked much beforehand about encouraging them and helping them. But our team was blown away by the spiritual growth and maturity. They shared with our team how God had been using that time to refine them.
I was in South America last month, serving on a human trafficking team to Bolivia. It was our first mission to this area, and they were blown away by our kind, loving team willing to come alongside them and support their ministry and help the women they have a heart and passion to save for eternity. They, like many, are learning a new trade and way to support themselves to stay out of “the life,” as they call it. Their business was in making fabric and leather goods, handbags, and jewelry. With this COVID-19 crisis, their business is currently shut down. This will be extremely difficult for their ministry, as it will be for ours and yours, only on a much larger scale, as they do not have the resources our country does.
This saddens me, as I know you each have your own story to tell of bringing help and hope to the least, the last, and the lost. But we should all remember, while we are not going, God is with them. He will not leave them nor forsake them. Or you. I know we are all struggling with this, but know this; obedience sometimes means not going. Not serving and being still. Very hard for the American as we have perfected busy-ness. Submit to this call to be still. And while you are pondering and waiting, cultivate your relationship with our Lord. Because we will eventually be going once again. Let’s have this time make a difference as well!
My best advice, after years of going and serving on the mission field is found in Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage, wait for the Lord”. Sometimes, being obedient is to wait. Let’s all commit to using this season to draw closer to Him. And one day soon, I’ll see you on the mission field!