When Choosing Sacrifice…

I don’t like pain.
I’m the type that would avoid any level of discomfort at all costs.
So, when I initially chose the life of ministry, I feared that the losses would be too heavy. Indeed, this included a fear that the humble circumstances would be too much to bear.
Nevertheless, I’ve been relatively spared up until now. Compared to the strife endured by the persecuted church around the world, I live a simple and easy life. We have a home. My children are receiving an excellent education. Both my husband and I have a steady paycheck, and we live the average, middle-class lifestyle in the suburbs of New Jersey. We get the occasional Starbucks drink.
Certainly, there is a cross to bear on a daily basis. Nothing comes easy in ministry. Yet, I haven’t quite fought to the literal point of bloodshed just yet. And to be honest, I did not want to. The idea of shaking things up was the last thing on my mind.
I have four young children. I needed to be practical, logical, and reasonable. I’ve heard of those families that sold everything and left to foreign lands to serve Jesus. I’ve sent them my love offerings and prayers. However, I never wanted to pay their price because it didn’t seem like it was “my call.”
Therefore, when the Lord pressed upon my heart to begin making connections to a certain Southeast Asian region, I was hesitant. It was an area closed to the gospel. And, to what end? What if I did end up having a heart to remain as a minister there? What would I do with the children, the ministry, the things here in the States?
It’s funny how we feel the need to have a plan before we obey God, when, technically, the only plan we need is to just listen to His voice.
His voice told me to start with a visit. Although there was no promise or plan for what was to come afterwards, I felt that it was a simple enough command to say yes to.
It was a country that’s been in my heart for years. I’ve had friends and family members that have sown into this country, only to be kicked out or shut down. Yet, I’ve had a passion for her lost souls, dying orphans, and stifled Christians. What Jesus did was turn that passion into compassion and caused me to do something about it. “Just go,” He said. So, I did.
Amongst the countless of astounding things we have witnessed on our trip, the part that marked me forever were the stories I heard. Stories of loss, persecution, and pain. Missionary children being abused in their schools. Foster children being torn away from their Christian parents because of the government’s distrust. Threats. Physical attacks. Slander.  It was to the point that by the second day, I was no longer inspired or encouraged. Rather, I felt pressured. I saw the weight of what was being done here, and I did not know if someone as sheltered and as weak as I could possibly pay that price.
Until I visited their prayer room.
It was a 5:30 a.m. prayer time. I merely attended because I felt obliged to as a guest, but I will never regret this decision for the rest of my life.
In that room, there was a strength and resilience I rarely saw in the Western Church. You know that verse in Psalm 23:1? Where it says that the Lord is our Shepherd and we shall not want? The people that dared to sacrifice for the Kingdom live by that verse, know it by experience. The needs and wants in that tiny prayer room were met by the Great Shepherd of Heaven and there was no lack.   
No one was tired. No one was depressed. Everyone’s countenance was bright with hope, and there was no semblance of complaint in the air. Instead, there was energetic dancing. There was exuberant singing. The shouts were like a lion’s roar — all from the people that shared their losses and trials with me only one day before.
It was then that I was convinced. He is truly enough. He is more than enough.
You cannot have more of God unless you are willing to give more of yourself. You cannot walk in His grace zone unless you are willing to part from your own safety zone. And, the spoiler alert is this… it will hurt. There will be pain. However, there will also be a peace beyond understanding, a joy beyond reason.
Truth be told, I do not know what the Lord has in store for me and my family beyond this point. But, there need not be a plan at this point, just a choice to listen and obey.
Those that are unafraid of the sting of sacrifice will be guaranteed to know the pleasure of His Presence.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.” — Psalm 23:1

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