***copied from our Mission Scotland blog***
There are several things that have led to this new direction for our family and mission. Admittedly, not every detail can be shared on a public forum, but what follows is as personally transparent as we can be here.
As the next post will point out, God has been working and producing much fruit through this work. So why leave at the 3-year mark if there is evidence of the Spirit’s success? There are several reasons for this.
Northeast Scotland is a unique place. Unlike the more populated places of the country, it became clear how isolated we were, the unique circumstances of the work this presented, and the toll it was taking on us as a family. We have dear, dear friends both inside and outside our church-community here, and it pains us to think of how much we will miss them (it’s probably the hardest part of all this). But even so, with the cultural realities and busyness of us as well as these friends, the isolation we feel is ever-present. Add to this the stresses of the work on the ground and I, as the leader of my family, was not handling the stressors well. These things, along with moving to a new town last December and the new approaching stress of having to move yet again (our rental is being sold, and we were given notice to move), the family and work were going to suffer more.
These things, of course, were not unexpected. We were not ignorant of what was to come in regards to enculturation; but there is always the difference of “knowing” something and even being prepared for it; and actually experiencing it first hand in real life. So many new factors involved. So many people to worry about. So many said and unsaid expectations. Add to that the constant feeling of loneliness and isolation that Daisha also felt; and how I, as a husband and daddy, was leading (or not) in handling certain matters; there was a daily compounding of issues.
There is no doubt in my mind that staying another 2 years would see much good. But there came a point where we had to ask: at what cost? While Jesus calls us to lose our lives for His sake, we must balance that requirement of discipleship and missions with what Paul tells Timothy: “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever,” (1Tim5:8). And while this is in the context of caring for widows and the like; I believe this teaching the Spirit through Paul gives us can be taken in a broader context. There are ways in which my providing for my own family (namely: spiritually and in “being present”) is less than what it needs to be.
We can be involved in seeing many people come to Christ, as we have while we’ve been here. But if more time equals a failure of my first responsibility to my family, it is not worth it. There are too many stories we have heard that make clear to us how quickly these closest relationships can be torn asunder because of the ministry. And my family must be my priority; over and above the work.
We need a reboot.
There was consideration in changing mission strategies; and reducing our stressors by focusing less on the established work and more on the fruit we were apart of in reaching unbelievers in our community (which will be explored in the next entry). We were given much freedom by our supporting congregation (FXCC) to pursue whatever we saw necessary for success of the mission they had sent us on. For this we are grateful. But even so, it was clear that this sort of change in strategy was going to cause more harm than good in the short and mid-term, and we were not ready to put others and ourselves through it. The situation on the ground prevented the transition we were seeking.
Beyond the work, there are other considerations that as parents and professionals we need to consider. The health of our children in both society and in regards to education and opportunity are becoming ever more present and important for us as they enter the formative years of life. Admittedly, both Daisha and I were raised in a way and always surrounded and pushed by others who pursued education, opportunity, and the intellectual. We have missed this tremendously; and do not believe our children would receive the education and opportunities that they will need to be productive members of a greater society. We wish to enable them with much freedom and availability of opportunity so they may succeed and fail, aiding in their growth as people and more importantly, as ambassadors for Christ in their lives.
It is also true that the exercise of our God-given gifts is something we desire to pursue in other ways (as will be explore in a later entry). It is clear to me that I am gifted in teaching. I love it. I love the preparation. I love the reading. And I love passing on knowledge to others in an instructive and conversational way. While I am able to do this on the mission field (I have taught something around 400-450 lessons in varying scenarios while here), I still felt “chained” emotionally and spiritually to the stressors. The emotional roller coaster is intense; bouncing from joy to apathy from hour to hour on a daily basis.
Daisha, of course, is ridiculously skilled in all things art, design, creativity, etc.; and that giftedness has been unable to be unleashed to its potential in the current situation. Coupling all this with the feeling of isolation/loneliness; the motivation to even do what we love also takes a hit.
We admit, some (many?) of these things are because of our own faults and sins; but it is the reality of realizing our failures and finding ways to grow through them; and to live the called life courageously and responsibly.
This all may sound kind of negative, but it isn’t. It’s more of simple reality in what we have learned through our experience in the almost 3-years of doing this.
The next post will explore what God has done here through this effort, and will continue to do here for His glory.
Grace be with you -