My husband and I have lived in Mongolia for more than 8 years now. Eight years . . . that’s a long time. Yet that’s how long it took me realize something very important about missions and about our calling to be here. For years I have heard my husband, George, when talking to folks about ‘what we do’ here, say, “It’s a privilege.” I would think to myself, “Well, that sure sounds nice and humble.” But I don’t think I ever really ‘got’ it. I mean, I don’t think that “privilege” is the word I would have used myself. Did I really feel like it was a privilege to leave friends, family, and all that is familiar, comfortable and convenient to go live in a foreign country where I would experience culture shock and basically have to learn to talk all over again? If I were honest, I’d have to say no. A different word was stuffed deep down in my heart where I wouldn’t actually say it out loud for fear of not sounding Godly and humble . . . sacrifice. (See everything I’m giving up for you, God? )
My attitude, perspective, and heart changed last week though. Why last week after 8 long years here? Because last week the rug was almost pulled out from under our feet. Last week, Immigration attempted to shut us down. Last week the threat of having our visas revoked and having to leave immediately was very real. We had a short-term team of 17 people here – all of their passports were confiscated. For the following 24 hrs our fate was up in the air as interrogations, accusations, interviews, and meetings took place. And prayer. Much prayer. Crying out to God to have mercy and allow us the privilege of us serving here longer. I wasn’t ready to start packing. I didn’t want to leave. There’s still so much to do! We aren’t finished yet! We just started building the medical clinic. Please let us finish this, God! It was in the midst of these cries that it dawned on me . . . being here really IS a privilege. Missions IS a privilege. Serving God, wherever you are, IS a privilege. Unfortunately it took almost having it taken away for me to realize it.
To make a long story short, prayer warriors rallied, intercession was made, and God answered prayer – our Governor and a Member of Parliament ended up backing us and our work (because of the positive impact our center has on the community, the relief work we do, and the medical clinic we’re building) and even threatened the Immigration official that there would be trouble for him if he didn’t back off.
Pheeeeeeewww. *Deep breath* *Sigh of relief* And a new perspective. A new attitude. Gratitude for the privilege it is to be here for one more day, week, month or year.
What are you taking for granted in your life? Pray for a new perspective and a heart of gratitude.