from Kathy Stewart
“Restore us to yourself, Lord, that we may return” Lamentations 5.
It never ceases to amaze me how removing oneself from the monotony of everyday life and stepping into a completely different context, offers such a profound perspective. After spending a week with our Myanmar church planters, I am again reminded of the truly important things in life.
Some of these men and women with sick babies traveled up to 3 days on hot, stuffy buses packed full of people. Some of them came from the toughest parts of Myanmar where killings and atrocities are being carried out on a daily basis, their communities thinking they were abandoning them, never to return. Some of them left up to seven children behind, entrusting them to their neighbors. All of them came with exhaustion, discouragement and an eagerness to hear from the Lord at this conference.
A small team of women from Evansville and I had the honor of spending the majority of our time with just the ladies. The first day we asked them a tough question: in what ways do you experience Satan robbing you of your joy? In a culture where respect, kindness, and servitude are held in highest regard, these Myanmar women quietly but honestly poured out the same ugly lies women all over the world face each day. The prince of darkness is causing them to doubt their faith, drain their love bank, steal their peace, drench them with exhaustion, accuse them of bad parenting, break their marriage down, and bind them with lies that they are never free.
But the next day, they shared with us how God is using them in their communities. It floored us how uniquely and creatively each woman uses their gifts and talents to reach lost people: visiting the sick, caring for the orphaned and widowed, cooking and sewing for others, hosting refugees. Not one out of the 16 women had the same answer. One woman who loves to garden humbly explained how nobody in the entirely-Buddhist community she lives in had ever seen such beautiful flowers and vegetables, so they come to her to learn how to plant like she does.
Similarly, our team of guys had the opportunity to hear from the men not only their discouragements of feeling isolated, lonely, and unworthy but also, the powerful ways God is using them to reach the people of Myanmar. The men were challenged to share their hardest realities as well as their encouraging victories and best practices with each other. In all of these things, the rescuing love of Jesus is being observed and communicated in these villages. And people are being saved because of it.
We laughed, cried, prayed, worshipped, and learned together with these heroes of the faith this week. The Holy Spirit was in our presence ministering and restoring not only the church planters of Myanmar but also, our Uncharted team.
I come home feeling extremely grateful for having been a part of this week where love, encouragement, and training were given and received. However, I am left with a pit in my stomach, starkly aware that there is so much more to be done.
I can’t think of anything more important than supporting our brothers and sisters who are on the front lines of bringing the gospel of Jesus to the literal ends of the earth. And frankly, one week a year doesn’t cut it. So, I am praying about the part I play in this. And I’m asking you to consider your part, too. Some are senders; some are goers; some are prayer warriors; some are teachers; some are relationship builders. But everybody has a part. And when we step outside our places of monotony and into a different context—whether physically, mentally or spiritually—God allows us to see a bigger, clearer picture of who He is and what He’s up to. And our faith is increased, and our souls are restored. And we return to the truly important things in life.