"Is it worth it?
I mean, moving your family overseas, giving up your good job?
Do you think that what you have done was worthwhile? Like you are making a difference?
Is it worth it?"
I've been asked this question by more than one person, and I'd be surprised if it isn't an unspoken thought in the minds of others. It's a valid question; one that I've asked myself, too. As I examine the answer, I can't help remember that for all of the challenges you've seen us face, we've also known incomparable blessing. So I can say, from the bottom of my heart, that yes, it is worth it all.
In this two-part post let's unpack the two-part question, "Is it worth it?"
Let's start with,
"Do you think that what you have done was worthwhile? Like you are making a difference?"
We can't show you quantifiable results of our work; no lists of people who came to know the Lord because we went. In fact, on this blog I can't even tell you about specific ways God used us, because we really can't go public with much about the projects we were involved with in the Philippines. (But if you ask me in person, I'd be happy to share some stories!) When I look back and see how many people Mark has helped, some who continue to seek help from him via emails now, I can say from the bottom of my heart, yes it is worthwhile.
A parallel question
Indulge me for just a minute, and consider a parallel question. Is it worthwhile to have a sound technician, or a janitor, or a secretary at your church? What they do is not really bringing souls to Christ, is it? Yet without their work, would the Word of God be proclaimed as effectively from the pulpit? Would the congregation be clearly hearing the message? Would they be well-informed, and would the events of the church be carried out in an orderly way?
In essence, we are those kinds of people in missions, providing some of the services which enable the work to happen more efficiently. Is it worth it? Those who are on the front lines think it is. When they are in critical need of help, and they have no idea how to address the issue themselves, should they spend valuable time working to locate the tools or research the information that Mark could give them very quickly? It's a little like asking the church pastor to set up and test the sound system Sunday morning, play the piano, keep the prayer chain going, pay the bills, write the Sunday School curriculum, and sweep the floors. And make sure it's a really moving Sunday morning message, please!
Instead, God in His goodness uses His entire body, rightly fitted together, to do His work. We happen to be some of the inner ligaments of the body - little ones, yes! But the work God allows us to do makes a difference.
"...from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly,
makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love."
Beyond the job description
Your church support staff not only have specific jobs to do in order to help the church run smoothly, but hopefully they also are being used by the Lord above and beyond that. They and their families are likely ministering in other ways - by their fellowship within the local church, by their giving, by intentionally raising their families to walk by faith, by showing care and hospitality, and by being salt and light in their own communities. Their impact has the potential to go far beyond their designated roles. Similarly, we've had the privilege to fellowship and give, to teach and be an example, and to encourage and disciple within our local church and our community there in the Philippines.
God opened doors and gave us opportunities which we never dreamed of before we went overseas. Was it worth it? Did it make a difference? Maybe only eternity will tell. But we know it made a difference in us. That God used it to shape and mold and temper us in ways that no American experience could have done.
We'll talk about that more in the next blog post topic, "Was it worth it? I mean, moving your family overseas, giving up your good job?"