When Things Go Wrong
4 Feb 2019
“The driver texted. He’ll be here in 20 minutes.” He was coming to take us to the airport, and Katrina wanted to know when I’d be home. We were headed back to Australia to wait for baby #5 to make his grand entrance into the world.
When she called, I was a 20-minute bike ride away, quietly waiting in a smoky office on the top floor of immigration headquarters for six worn passports to appear in my lap with six new residents permits inside. The officers handling our case weren’t looking or sounding particularly generous. But then a few dozen prayers (from three continents) and 10 twitchy minutes happened.
“Count them. Six passports. Don’t ever rush us like this again!” Favours from officials always come wrapped in a lecture. The real favour came from God – He heard the prayers of the saints. A sweaty bike ride through the smoggy streets and we were on our way.
Six weeks later I was in another poorly decorated room, this time with Katrina. “We are very concerned for your baby”. Our eyes were glued to the sonographer’s screen looking for the pumping motion of a tiny heart. Any motion. More desperate prayer and ten silent minutes happened. Nothing.
We called him Samuel John. After two men whose lives were dedicated to God from birth. We prayed… and grieved.
I can’t give you a particularly concise definition of ‘member care’, but I can tell you what it feels like. A burden lifted. Contact. Phone calls. Expenses paid. Meals delivered. Prayer. Listening. Empathy. Crying.
Three months later we carried our old passports on one more trip to pack up and say goodbyes. Those shiny permits inside got stamped, but only once. The work we were set to launch would have to wait, not for us, but for God. We needed rest. We needed roots. We needed Him. Just as much as the unreached peoples in our host country needed Him.
Charles Spurgeon said that a happy Christian believes God to be “too wise to err and too good to be unkind; he trusts Him where he cannot trace Him.” Three years later we still do not know where He was hiding in that hospital room. But we know He is inside and outside all the lines we’ve coloured in. We know He is wise, we know He is kind.
Although Katrina and I are now part of Pioneers Member Development team, we still can’t define member care well. Sometimes it’s a cup of coffee with a young couple who can’t get a work visa after months of trying. Sometimes it’s a glitchy Skype call to catch up on the latest trials and triumphs. Sometimes it’s faithful presence.
How do we endure in mission? How do we endure when God is quiet, and pain is loud? He sends extra arms to carry the load. Team mates. Partners from ‘back home’. Pastors. Neighbours. For when we carry each other’s burdens, in this way we fulfil the law of Christ. And as Christ is lifted up in our love, He will draw people from every nation to Himself.