In the fear of the Lord, one has strong confidence, and (her) children have a refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, saving people from the snares of death.” Proverbs 14:26-27
The Lord opened my eyes to this verse while we were at seminary preparing to come to the field. At the time I was home schooling 3 of our 5 children while my husband went to seminary (full time), worked as a police officer for a large hospital at night, and worked at a church as one of the teaching pastors.
We had left our newly bought home and the familiarity of the life we had been living for the past 12 years. I had found a rhythm of life that was comfortable. Now here I was with a 2 week old baby, moving into a new place/ rhythm. I had struggled for years with confidence in mothering, home schooling, and the general running of a home and even more so in that new place with the ity- bity kitchen. I also struggled with fear of man. So, when the Lord showed me Proverbs 14:26-27 I knew He was speaking straight to my heart. I had no idea how He would use this in the future.
We are a family of 7 who have been living for the past year and a half on the Kenyan coast among a group of people who are considered “folk-Islam”. These people are heavily involved in witchcraft and wear a veneer of Islam over their deeply rooted African animistic beliefs. The people are typically suspicious and resistant to the gospel.
When we finally reached our “station” after orientation and language learning in February of 2010, the peak of the hot season (and it was HOT), we realized quickly that life on the coast would be a challenge. I won’t go into all of that, it was hard, but that isn’t the point of the story.
Even now we struggle with language and with bouts of culture shock. To live among a people who are so different from us is challenging. To learn how to cook for 7 without a deep freeze to depend on is challenging. To be far away from friends, family, and familiar things is challenging. BUT! The Lord knew it would be. He has been preparing us in little ways for a long time. Don’t get me wrong, we don’t meet each challenge with a carefree shrug, we feel stretched a lot. But we can see Him growing us, helping us see where He is at work, and allowing us to be a part of it all.
We spend a lot of time just living. We are new here and it takes a lot more time to just live in Africa. There aren’t the familiar conveniences that we had in the US. Many days it is so hot just getting through a day of home schooling and eating something is a major victory!
This is where the fear of the Lord comes in. I had this idea of what being a missionary would look like and also I had real and perceived expectations of what others thought I should be/ do. But God’s expectation is that I fear Him, look to Him, whole-heartedly love Him, trust Him, and do what He says when He says it. Then I need to love my husband and children and manage my home. And I need to be sensitive to where God is working among those I encounter throughout the day. When I live like this, when I receive what He has given me in each day and act on it in faith, He receives glory. When I am more focused on what others will think about my life/ what I am doing I just fret over things I have NO control over.
He is the one who “saves people from the snares of death”. If I spin my wheels trying to drum up what I can do for God, I will spin and spin in vain. If I instead fear Him, fix my eyes on Him, love Him with my heart, soul, mind, and strength, He allows me to come along with Him as He saves the lost ones.
A perfect example of this is our guard. My husband noticed that he wrote a prayer to God on a box and asked him about it. The guard responded that he was Muslim and liked to write his prayers to God. My husband gave him a New Testament in his heart language and he read Matthew in one night. He started Mark the next night and my husband showed him the J film in his language. They have had many conversations and you could say my husband is pre-discipling this young man. They study the Bible together and talk about the MANY questions he has. One of the coolest things God is doing through their relationship is opening up many doors to go into other villages and meet new people. God was already working in this young man’s heart- my husband just noticed it. He didn’t strategize that kind of an encounter but it happened as he sought God and kept his eyes open.
I once heard that “God calls us to Himself, not necessarily to a place”. This means so much more to me now. Things change, visas may not get renewed, our plans may not go the way we thought they would, but if we know that we are called to HIM, any place is our place of service.