Lessons I have Learned…

16 Jun 2021

As I stare at a blank page with this heading, my mind is equally blank. What have I learned? Where do I start? I’ve been overseas for long enough now that the things I’ve learnt seem to be a part of me, and I’m only aware of how much I still need to learn. Yet if I was to bring it all back to one thing, it would be that – a learner’s attitude that always is open to new ideas, new opportunities, new insights. And the only way to have that is to be continually and consciously dependent on God.

When you arrive in a new place, it’s very easy to have that conscious dependence. Everything is unknown, everything is an adventure, everything is overwhelming and (if we’re honest) a little intimidating. It takes courage to get in another taxi after a bad taxi experience. It takes humility to work so hard on studying language and not be able to understand the guy at the shop. It takes both courage and humility to go on a visit where you will feel socially awkward and struggle to express yourself in even the simplest conversations. And yet it’s a huge joy and a privilege! It’s a time where you see God come through again and again when you pray for the impossible and see it happen. When you achieve something you couldn’t do on your own. When you pray fervently before every visit, every attempt to find a tradesman or a shop that sells that random thing you desperately need, every single thing you do. And he answers!

But then you start to adapt. You develop competence in language and in life. You start to think you understand what’s going on around you (you’re mostly wrong at first, but over time your perception grows). You begin to have conversations about deep things and you have the language skills to speak truth into the hard parts of people’s lives. Life becomes normal, mundane even.

With competence it’s easy to lose that fervent dependence, to start to make plans on your own, to go into shops and conversations and situations with less trepidation and far less prayer (kind of like most of us at home). That is a huge loss! We lose the awareness of God’s presence and power. We lose the sweetness of the constant reminders of his provision. We lose the joy of incompetence.

I have the huge privilege of leading and mentoring people who are in their first 2 years overseas. Their constant prayerfulness, dependence and growth in humility is an inspiration and an encouragement to me to do the same. Seeing their joy in the ways in which God works amazingly in, through, and for them helps me to see the same in my life. And seeing that, how can I not continue to fervently lay everything, even the littlest things, before God in joyful dependence. May I encourage you to do the same?

– A Pioneers worker serving in the Middle East

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