Voices of the Faithful

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” ~Hebrews 12:1-3

I stood among the chosen tonight – those chosen for a life of joyful sorrow.  We are in an intense couple months of training {spiritually, emotionally, and physically} in preparation to take the message of Jesus to places where He is not being proclaimed.  As we sat in a room and took turns standing up and sharing to the group who we are and where we are going, my eyes panned the room looking at all the others that God has called forth to serve Him among the lost of the world. We are literally headed for countries all over this earth.  We are a diverse group of ages and family size, but we stand united by one goal.  We simply love Jesus and want others to know Him too.  None of us know what the future holds, but we know the One who holds the future.  None of us want to suffer, but we know that the suffering is worth it and necessary for souls to be saved.

Here at the training facility is a wall with a list of my heroes.  Listed on that wall are those who started out just like us.  They too sold their possessions, said goodbye to those they loved, and followed Jesus into the world.  They loved Jesus and chose obedience no matter the cost.  They wore name tags during training, worked hard at memorizing scripture so they could lead someone to Christ, and ventured out in the unknown – wondering what life would be like overseas. These brothers and sisters in Christ are my heroes because they were martyred.  They were murdered for loving Jesus and for serving others out of a pursuit of lost souls.  They denied themselves the comforts of life in the land they called home and followed the Lord to new lands, and they could do this because they had a different Home that they longed for.

“If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.  Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” ~Hebrews 11:15-16

I have spent time reading the names of those on the wall.  I have run my fingers over the names of my sisters and there are no words for what my heart feels.  Was she scared?  When the moment came for her to enter into the presence of the King, what was that like? I walk by that wall everyday and my heart looks on in joyful sorrow.  I cannot think of a higher calling than to be considered worthy of such an honorable death, but I also have to constantly lean into Jesus so fear will not cripple me…truly cripple me.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life — of whom shall I be afraid?” ~Psalm 27:1

These missionaries knew that sometimes bloodshed is necessary for the advancement of the Kingdom.  And isn’t that what Jesus modeled for us when He gave His life for the us – sinners whom He loved and wanted to rescue from darkness? I read their stories and think “she was someone’s best friend” or “she was someone’s mom.” My dear sisters who I cannot wait to hug in Heaven have experienced Jesus face-to face, but they were just regular people.

They found something worth dying for and they truly lived for it.

As we – the baby missionaries who will hit the battlefield soon – stood together tonight and shared where we will be living, I looked around.  I saw wife squeeze husband’s hand….will he die on the field?  I saw daddy tickle daughter….will he be in prison when she gets married?  I saw a single girl who bravely goes alone….will she get kidnapped? I saw the child with blonde curls….will her parents die and leave her orphaned on the field?  I saw the preteen boy….will his innocent eyes witness violence and murder?

And then it happened.

The most beautiful sound I have ever heard filled the room and interrupted my thoughts.

Missionaries, both brand new and those who have spent their lives on the field, joined together and worshiped the King…

“Lord prepare me,
to be a sanctuary,
pure and holy,
tried and true
with thanksgiving,
I’ll be a living,
for you.”

The voices of the faithful joined together and praised the Hope Giver.  Voices of mommas who are exhausted with the training of today and who have tired days ahead with children on airplanes – voices of children who won’t go to Christmas at their grandparent’s house – voices of men who will enter mosques and rescue those out of darkness – voices of singles who will show other singles that God is all satisfying – voices that will endure homesickness and grief – voices that will peer into the supernatural as God opens eyes of the lost – voices of those who will experience the true joy found in following Christ – voices that will share hope with the hopeless – voices that will help the helpless – voices that will love the unlovable – voices of those that will face persecution – voices that will be Spirit led to speak boldly – and voices that may cry “forgive them Father for they know not what they do” in their final moments as strangers on this earth, joined together and praised the Lord with one voice.

As my baby cried and acted out, I stood and walked around the corner and into the dark hallway.  My child is tired and my heart is weary from the demands of this transition stage, but the voices of the faithful still sang loudly, so I joined them.  I stood by myself, holding a crying child, as I closed my eyes and breathed deep the moment.

Lord, you are preparing me all the time and in every way to accomplish this work you have set before me.  You are equipping me through the joyful times and through the sorrowful to be a bright light in the dark.  You are refining me always to be a beautiful sanctuary for the Spirit of of God – pure and holy.  You are trying me and with your help, I will be true.  Yes, I cannot be true and pure and holy without being tried.  And so Lord, I thank you for all that you are doing.  I thank you for the obedience of those you are calling and I thank you that no matter what happens, You are always good.  May you be exalted and glorified in every dark corner of this earth.

Thank you, Lord for choosing me.  In life or in death, in prosperity or poverty, in happiness or pain, in joy and in sorrow…I praise you.

Please keep us in your prayers! We are so excited for all the Lord is teaching us in this preparation season before we move overseas!  Stress is high with the kids, but God is always faithful and always sustaining us! Through Him, we are able to have an unwavering faith, which leads to an unshakable hope, resulting in a courageous heart that is filled with joy!