Saturday, July 27, 2013

Living on Mission: What's That All About? (Part I)

A few days ago, our family hugged our teenager goodbye as he joined a small group of classmates and headed for Costa Rica on his first mission trip overseas. As we keep counting the days until his return, our prayers continue to rise for the team and everyone they'll meet. As I pray for him, my heart is filled with joy, for my life was transformed while on a mission to Guatemala many years ago.

Some wonder why people leave the safety of their homes and countries to minister overseas when there are so many needs right here in our own backyards. While this is true, time spent serving way outside of our comfort zones in a new culture can transform our hearts and minds and give us a new appreciation for our calling back home. Seeing the needs of others while living among them and leaving behind what is familiar and comfortable helps us grasp how blessed we are, and we often begin to live on mission at home upon our return.

For years I've longed to bring my teenager on an overseas mission, but he kept saying, No, then, Not yet. Although we've had many opportunities to serve in this country, we've never served on a short-term mission overseas. It wasn't until my son took a class on Mission at school that a desire for such an experience sprung out of his own heart.

The one-week class was taught by Profe, a woman who lives every day with a mission perspective. The daughter of missionaries and raised overseas, she truly lives with purpose, seeing God's hand in every circumstance, sharing Christ's love, and teaching others to do the same. I am so grateful that God continues to use people like her in the lives of my children. Such blessings speak to me of God's faithfulness, His sovereignty, and His wonderful and perfect plan.

Truly, we can trust Him. He is good.

Please join me in praying for the mission team and, especially, for Christ to reveal himself to those on the team and to everyone to whom they minister and through whom they will be blessed.

Dr Mari

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.  
Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.  
Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, 
and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.  
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;  
give thanks to him and praise his name.  
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; 
 his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Psalm 100:1-5

My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long—
though I know not how to relate them all. 
Psalm 71:15

You can read a short story about my medical mission to Guatemala here.

For Parts II and III of this series on Mission, read Living on Mission: A Look Back and Living on Mission: Compassion Trumps Fear.

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Stone of Hope: Reflections on Freedom

I had the blessing of spending this fourth of July at our nation's capital. While there, we visited the memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr and found it deeply inspiring. Walking through the lighted path that leads to the statue of MLK was like stepping into history itself. Two fountain walls on either side reminded me of the Reverend's timeless words, "We shall not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." His words of wisdom fill the walls surrounding the striking monument that stands tall in the center with a reminder that from the "mountain of despair" can emerge a "stone of hope."

As I continue to reflect on the meaning of freedom and how we can become its ambassadors, I share King's dream that one day "every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain ... made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight ... the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together."

Together. Something about that word stirs my soul. It brings me back to an experience we had in New York City just a few days before arriving in DC.

Not far from Columbia University, we found a pizza shop with slices as large as bed sheets. As we sat down to eat, a man walked in, headed straight for the trash and stuck his hand in it to find lunch. Stunned, I watched him pull out pieces of half-eaten crust and bread sticks and throw them in his bag. Holding back tears, I shared some of our pizza and watched him walk out, still gripping his bag of scraps. He thanked us and, head down, found a spot on the crowded sidewalk for a makeshift table.

I never saw his eyes.

Clearly, some rough places in this man's life have not been made plain, and crooked places remain crooked. The reality of his life is a challenge for me to step out of my comfortable world and remember to meet the needs of the hungry in body, soul, and spirit. For too many, King's dream remains a distant reality. Yet, there is hope for them as long as somebody sees their need and cares enough to do something to meet it.

Truly, no one is free until we're all free. The reality of unmet basic needs like food, shelter, and dignity is a call for all of us to act, to do something, to do our part. By the mountain of our neighbor's despair, we can stand tall as stones and ambassadors of hope.

How can we do it today?

Spread hope!
Dr Mari

"The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." (Galatians 5:6)

"If you can't feed a hundred people, feed just one." (Mother Teresa)

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