|our little family in 2008, newly arrived in Costa Rica|
Throughout those first 18 months, I cried many tears, and, like I shared yesterday, my mind and heart got to a state of being consumed by confusion, doubt, hurt and fears. And, now, ladies, I'm drawing a deep breath and wincing a little at being this vulnerable, but I got to a point one day that I was crying and trying to pray, and then realized I was literally yelling aloud, "I hate it here, God!" Oh, was I thankful my neighbors didn't speak English! It was at that point of brokenness that I went to the Lord, journal and pen in hand, and finally brought my frantic questions to Him with a heart ready to listen to His gentle answers. When I looked back at the journal page to write these posts, I realized that I wrote the questions as if they were being fired at me, in an almost accusatory way, making it so clear to me now how these questions were coming both from my flesh and from the enemy.
My frantic question: Wouldn't you be more effective if you could minister in your native language?
This question really got me, because, frankly, I had a really fun, satisfying, effective ministry in the States before we moved to Costa Rica. For years, I had invested a lot in international student ministry, and once I finished grad school, I taught English as a Second Language to immigrants and refugees at a local community college. I loved how both the international student ministry and my teaching allowed me to build relationships and share Christ with people from literally all over the world... in English! It was a dream! I knew that I would eventually leave behind that dream job, but it still hit me hard when we moved here for a position with a ministry that was a great fit for my husband, but one in which I didn't even really have a role. Language learning was a huge struggle for me as a new mom, and it was an adjustment to go from being the teacher to the student again. It was so, so easy to dwell on how much more of a ministry I perceived I had in the States. Additionally, I had anticipated using English as a ministry tool, and it wasn't really working out here in our rural town.
His gentle answer (as I wrote it in my journal): Let's go with My idea of effectiveness, not yours, Sarah. I see people's hearts; you can't. Has it not occurred to you that I can more effectively change your heart and sanctify you through what you are experiencing here?
That wasn't what I was expecting! I actually remember thinking, "Do I have such a hard heart that I have to be experiencing all this to change it!?" How special, though, to be reminded that it is only God who knows people's hearts, that any ministry I have is truly His, and that He has so much work to still do in my heart! It's His harvest field, and He is the one who truly changes hearts.
And, I will say that now, six years later, I'm fairly proficient in Spanish (thank God!), and I can see fruit of ministry that God has given me. I also have such a bigger understanding of who it is that is really ministering. We are His tools, gifted with the privilege of being used by Him to plant, cultivate, and harvest fruit. But, that actual harvest is His! And, so often, He is doing a great work in our hearts.
Have you questioned if you could have a more effective ministry in the States? What has God spoken to you about that?
Please come back tomorrow for part three. I have some more to share with you about this!