Surrendering to the Lord: our joys and fears about plunging ahead
We are excited and joyful about the opportunity of taking the gospel of Jesus to an unreached people group in which over 99.9% of its population don’t bow in worship to Christ. And we are also scared.
We’re a married couple with a child approaching his second birthday and another on the way. The dangers for us, as a family, of moving to a country whose government is implacably opposed to the gospel is very real. There are many known and unknown risks involved. But we are compelled to go by the history-making news of the kingdom of God, and the love and worthiness of our King. The fears are real but are outweighed by the awe our risen Lord provokes. So we surrender those fears to him. We are convinced that the kingdom of our Lord Jesus is totally worth it all, but there are costs.
One is the prospect of career loss. We hope to gain entry via a work visa. But job options are limited by the need to gain language and cultural know-how in order to function at an effective level in daily life. We may have to take up a different line of work from what we’ve had at home. This may make it impossible to re-enter our former careers in the future. And will we be able to support the needs of our growing family? But we recognise that it was God who provided our career opportunities in the first place. He knows our needs and will never abandon us (Heb. 13:5).
Another is the possibility of overt opposition by hostile authorities, as has happened to others: threats, interrogations, and worse. As Jesus' "sheep among wolves" we need to be ‘as wise as serpents and harmless as doves’. We must take precautions in case our mobile phones, email accounts, and laptops are seized and searched by authorities for evidence of gospel activity. But we know that ultimately it is only our God who is to be feared, and we can safely entrust ourselves to his care (Matt. 10:26-31).
We know that in today’s world serious traumas come to children as well as adults. So we need to bear in mind the above assurances, and many others from Scripture, in facing up to the possibility of our children suffering because of God’s call on our lives. Apart from potential threats to their personal safety, there’s concern about daily healthcare in an environment of heavy air pollution and altitude changes. And can we surrender our worries about bringing up a newborn baby without the support of family and close community? Worries about our children’s schooling and development and their language and cultural identity as “third culture kids”?
At our wedding these words were read: “…we have this treasure in clay vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves”. (2 Cor. 4:7) That’s our assurance. Final victory is his and not dependent on us being heroes. We are excited and joyful, even in the face of our fears, to be included in Christ’s kingdom and given the opportunity to take his gospel to the ends of the earth.
John and Rachel are preparing to move to a country where they hope to use their profession to serve others.