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This is a post I've considered not posting. Yet I know others are struggling with the discouragement and maybe something I say here will be an encouragement. Also, I'd welcome any feedback.

Even though I'm an introvert I'm not terribly introspective so I find it hard to put into words difficult situations I'm working through. And I want to be honest, but I don't want to sound hopeless.

As you may know, when we returned to Niger we found that none of the "Tera Six" were coming to church. Indeed, not one of them has come to a service since our return in August.

Recently we talked more in depth with one of them. He told us that "we offered a gift, but didn't make it possible to receive it." In other words, we offered salvation but we didn't make it physically and financially possible to leave their former religion and be independent of their families.

My first reaction to the situation was “Why continue on? What’s it all been worth? Why has John poured his heart and soul into these guys? For what reason has his health been weakened? Why not just go home now? What’s the point of putting in more time?” I spent most of September really depressed and discouraged.


Not only have I felt depressed, I’ve even felt a little angry that they’ve done this to my husband. How could they turn their back on somebody who cares about them so much and who has put so much into them?

And if I feel that way about John, how much have they hurt You, my LORD?

But, God has been teaching me some things.

1. I must be fully persuaded that God will do what He has said He will do. When we were home I had chosen this verse to pray for myself. Now it is even more meaningful: “Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact…. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he promised.” Romans 4:19-21

OK, let’s face the facts. The facts are, God brought us to Téra to reach the Songhai. Six Songhai men were saved and we began building a church with those men. Now not one of them has come to church since our return in August. It looks hopeless. But God has promised that He will build His church. He brought us here for that purpose.
So, I must not waver through unbelief regarding God’s promise to build a Songhai church. I must believe and then be strengthened in my faith. At the same time, I need to give God the glory. At this point I can honestly say that if a church gets going here, it won’t have been John’s doing, it will have been God.
Am I fully persuaded that God has the power to do what he promised? Ouch. Honestly? No, I’m not always full persuaded of that because if He can, what’s going on? I can say, though, that I’m moving towards really believing that He will do what He promised. Help my unbelief. Make me fully persuaded that You will do what You have promised.
God’s promise is in Matthew 16:18: “…upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.”
I may never see this promise fulfilled. But I read this recently and it encouraged me in being able to see the big picture instead of just what is happening now: "It was clear in Scripture that some trusted and were blessed, others trusted and died (Hebrews 11:35). But all godly faith will be rewarded -- one day in heaven." (Bruce McDonald, The Writing of The Fight of Faith in Inspire, Fall 2006) Maybe I personally will never see what God is doing among the Songhai. But I must believe He is doing it!


Not in Vain
(Habakkuk 3:17-18)

Not in vain, the tedious toil
On an unresponsive soil,
Travail, tears in secret shed
Over hopes that lay as dead.
All in vain, thy faint heart cries.
Not in vain, thy Lord replies:
Nothing is too good to be;
Then believe, believe to see.

Did thy labor turn to dust?
Suff’ring – did it eat like rust
Till the blade that once was keen
As a blunted tool is seen?
Dust and rust thy life’s reward?
Slay the thought; believe thy Lord!
When thy soul is in distress,
Think upon His faithfulness.

Though there be not fig nor vine,
In thy stall there be no kine,
Flock be cut off from the fold,
Not a single lamb be told,
And thy olive berry fall
Yielding no sweet oil at all,
Pulse-seed wither in the pod –
Still do thou rejoice in God.

But consider, was it vain
All the travail on the plain?
For the bud is on the bough;
It is green where thou didst plow.
Listen, tramp of little feet,
Call of little lambs that bleat;
Hearken to it. Verily,
Nothing is too good to be.
2. I need to pray continually for these men who are no longer following Christ. As I read Colossians 1:9-14 God seemed to be prompting me to pray these verses for IO and AD (which I will not quote in their entirety). “So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. "
I pray that AD will be like David and repent of his sin and yet be called a man after God’s own heart even though he will suffer the consequences all his life. “Against you, and you alone have I sinned.” (Psalm 51:4) I know that he (and IO) has not sinned against John, even though I may be upset with them for seemingly making all his work null and void. But they have sinned against God. And He will willingly forgive them if they ask.

For Hardened Hearts

For those with hardened hearts we pray,
Who hear and heed not, nor will move
Even to turn and look Thy way,
Although Thou art all love.

Lord Jesus Christ of Calvary’s Tree,
Who by Thy death wrought victory:
Renew in us a mighty faith
For them for who we pray.

**********
The Drifting Ones

Lord, some who listened all but came
And touched Thy garment’s hem:
The blind, the deaf, the dumb, the lame—
Thou knowest them.

But they have drifted; oh, do Thou,
Whose love is never bound
By our poor limits, follow now
Till they be found.

3. Is Christ alone enough for me? I’ve discovered that a lot of my identity comes from how much I’ve accomplished. Yes, we know it is difficult in a Muslim environment, so we never expected to plant a church with 5000 members. But we did want to leave here with an established church. The question is, can I find my identity in Christ alone? Is He enough, even if everything else fails? “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” Can I say that honestly? With the Lord, I’m free and I’m forgiven! So, get behind me, Satan. Quit dissing me, or my husband, or my God! As we used to sing at Cedarville, “Chirst is all I need!”

Wilt Love Me? Trust Me? Praise Me?

O thou belovèd child of My desire,
Whether I lead thee through green valleys,
By still waters,
Or through fire,
Or lay thee down in silence under snow,
Through any weather, and whatever
Cloud may gather,
Wind may blow—
Wilt love Me? trust Me? praise Me?

No gallant bird, O dearest Lord, am I,
That anywhere, in any weather,
Rising singeth;
Low I lie.
And yet I cannot fear, for I shall soar;
Thy love shall wing me, blessèd Savior.
So I answer:
I adore;
I love Thee, trust Thee, praise Thee.

4. God is a God of comfort and He is comforting me during this time. He loves me. He is here beside me. He will give me the strength I need for every day. Life is hard, and God is good. We may not ever know what God is doing in Téra, but I can rest in His comfort that He is doing something even if He doesn’t explain His time-table to me.

I Will Refresh You
(Matthew 11:28)

Heart that is weary because of the way,
Facing the wind and the sting of the spray,
Come unto Me, and I will refresh you.

Heart that has tasted of travail and toil,
Burdened for souls whom the foe would despoil,
Come unto Me, and I will refresh you.

Heart that is frozen – a handful of snow,
Heart that is faded – a sky without glow,
Come unto Me, and I will refresh you.

Heart that is weary, O come unto Me.
Fear not, whatever the trouble may be;
Come unto Me, and I will refresh you.
All poetry is from Mountain Breezes: The Selected Poems of Amy Carmichael

Comments

Anonymous said…
Thank you so much for writing so clearly, transparently and beautifully. I love the poems as well. We continue to pray.
Love,
Carol
Amanda said…
Love that photo below! Merry Christmas, have a happy one and a great new year too.
notlwonKmiJ said…
Last week Bill Schmidt was in the warehouse and we were talking about his Niger Conference series about "abiding." (That was back when we were still real missionaries). The Father is the Gardener, and responsible for the yield. Sounds to me like you are doing your best to "remain" in Him and that your discouragement comes from not having fruit that appeared to remain. We like what you're doing, and the attitude you're doing it with. So, you just keep on, K? I'm sure that John has heard the story about Harbottle and the cup of tea after 17 years.
Georgene said…
It's been a while since I've checked in on you. So much going on here these days. I'm glad to know how to pray for you and will continue to do so. Was it William Carey that didn't have a convert for 7 years and his wife lost her mind? He never gave up.. for the same conclusions you've come to. He did all for the glory of God and left the results with the Lord. Blessings to you...
Jane Stutzman said…
01-04-07 Have just received your
email message; and yes, I am very much rejoicing with you and the angels..."Not in vain" your labors,
and the encouragements have come.
"Ready to help me, ready to cheer,
Just when I need Him most" came immediately to mind...we've been praying against the discourage-ments that have been threatening.
Praise the Lord! Amadou is the young man John wrote about in his blog in the fall, "You can't raise an elephant in a house"...The secret is out. May God bless and direct them in His way. Blessings upon all your efforts there!
--Jane

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