Friday, May 23, 2014

The Power of Encouragement - An Example - An (in)courager Link Up

This week I'm linking up with (in)courage to celebrate signing up for (in)courager groups! I've been involved in this aspect of (in)courage for a few years now, first encouraging empty-nest moms of prodigals, and now in co-leading (in)courage global care - a group for women who are missionaries (global workers), former missionaries, moms and sisters of missionaries and missionary (or member) care workers (those women, like me, that love to encourage them). 

I hope that you enjoy reading this little bit about the WHY of me... why missionary/global worker/member and family care... and if you're inspired, join us over at (in)couragers and apply to join our group (under ministry groups) for global care.  - marina



encourage
 

— vb
1.to inspire (someone) with the courage or confidence (to do something)
2.to stimulate (something or someone to do something) by approval or help; support
 

Flashback to 4 1/2 years ago... It's one of my first visits to the Women's Group in this new-to-me huge church. I'm lingering around a table, helping sell tickets for something... a Women's ministry event... I don't even remember now... maybe the Women's Conference. I have a name tag on (which doesn't seem normal now, for a "normal" Women's Group meeting, but God had a purpose!) and as I'm just hanging out and smiling when a younger mom appears before me, bright smile and hugs.

"YOU! You are Marina! I JUST got an email from E telling me to keep an eye out for you! I can't believe it was THIS EASY to find you!"

I'm astounded.
And relieved.
And a little bit... comforted.

Our little meeting turned into a lunch at Chic-fil-a with her homeschooling kids in tow, as we spilled encouragement and tears over tasty chicken and sweet tea. I was newly relocated and thrilled to be here, and she was "back home," but grieving over leaving the mission field she was so in love with. Both of us were being obedient to our husband's calling. Both of us unsure what the future held.

So started this beautiful, authentic, REAL friendship with a woman who was 10 years younger than me. It wasn't intended to be a mentoring thing, as we encouraged and inspired each other - despite the age difference. It was friendship, wrapped in a dose of peer-mentoring and encouragement!

So when they were sent off, they came to Antioch; and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the letter. When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement. Now Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words.  - Acts 15:30-32 

God brought us together at a perfect time. My passion was/is encouraging those on the mission field, and I'd just walked through a season where my missionary daugher and SIL had to return unexpectedly from their place of service. I was fresh with a tender heart, remembering how upsetting it was for them... but that gave me a fresh sense of what was "normal" in this circumstance. I saw that it was just as important to encourage the missionary back in their original country, as it was while they were on "the field."

I admired my new friend for being so brave; for not letting her vision or prayers die for this people group, for not letting her desire for the field ruin her passion for her marriage. I loved how she was continuing to believe that God had a purpose for the timing in them going, and returning. How she prayed for her husband to have new eyes, and a renewed passion for the field; and that God would change her heart to be content "back home." Prayers that if that was what God wanted, that He would re-direct her compass of where "home" was. That God would do something to allow a return to the field, accepting His will and His timing above all.


Several months later, we traveled to that place together with a small team, to encourage workers in that field. It was inspiring, encouraging, and amazing. She was shocked at how quickly the language came back to her, evident by our 2 hour taxi ride leaving the airport, and her talking to the taxi-driver the entire time... the only word she didn't know was "seatbelt!"

The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.  - 1 Peter 4:7-11

It was a trip full of first's for me, and I caught her vision to see these people fall in love with their Creator. We prayed on beautiful beaches for the lost to be found, and prayer walked neighborhoods for God to open doors for the Gospel. We were an encouragement to those we came to see, their children, their ministry. We saw God work in each of us on the team, and through each of us. We saw history in the making, without feeling we were ever in danger. God's power was around us, His Word an encouragement to us, and as we spoke it - to each other. It was sustaining. Motivating. Healing.

Although we went to encourage others, often they encouraged us. (I love it when that happens!)

If you'd asked me before leaving, what I thought would happen, I would have told you that I expected to fall in love with this place she loved, everything about it, including the food and people there. But I didn't. I tolerated the food... most of it didn't even taste tasty to me. I love the people, more as a recognition that HE loves them, not as a "I HAVE to be the one to go tell them about Jesus!" kind of way (though I would in a heartbeat, should He open the door and tell my husband that we are supposed to be there!).

He hasn't told my husband that, and we are both OK with me/us not being there. For now my hubby is a "missionary in a chicken plant" and I'm by his side, encouraging missionaries, former missionaries, or family of missionaries wherever they are... on their field whether it's "here, near, or far away."  God's opened my eyes, and a door, for me to help encourage and equip women to be encouragers for the workers they know that are working globally to reach the lost for Jesus. This movement of *encouraging global care* will one day become *wHim* - Women Helping in Missions; because we can be an encouragement to missionaries all over the world - and in our backyard. While we are changing our babies, we can change the world. When the kids are learning letters, we can be writing letters to our friends, family members, and ministers as they reach out to those that have not heard.When our nests are empty and the house quiet, we can offer hospitality to those coming off the field, and pray for them when they return.  While they are being His hands and feet in the fields ripe for harvest, we can be His hands and feet as we lift them in prayer, and purpose, and do spiritual warfare on their behalf. We can each do our part to equip, inspire, encourage them, so we can complete the task of the Great Commission... every tongue, tribe and nation...

And the encouragement keeps spreading... along with the Gospel.

The encouragement between my friend and I is still powerful today, though she's back on field and our communication is more via social media than face to face meals. We've seen the blessing that friendship, and encouragement, is. We know that God has equipped each of us to encourage one another... and to share that gift with others that need to be lifted up ... to share with them, the power of encouragement.