And I love you for it.
I love you because you don't have to be there, not a single one of you. I love you because I know how easy it is to rationalize: I'll go when the kids are grown, when I retire, when I marry, when I'm a widow. I'll go where it's safe, where it's more like home, where the language is normal, where they actually like people from my country. I love you because I know that what I call sacrifice is nothing compared to what you have given up to be there, and because I know that you wouldn't trade places with me for anything (well, not permanently anyway - though you might for a weekend especially when it's 120 degrees in the shade).
I've told you before that I know you have feet of clay, that you struggle and are learning the same lessons I'm learning. I know you don't idealize your country any more than I idealize mine. But as I come face to face with some of the harder truths in the New Testament, the truths about mission and compromise and suffering and persecution, I realize afresh how important it is that you are out there doing the thing. You are still my heroes.
As you look around and wonder if you are making a difference, please know that you are ... you are making a difference in the Body of Christ as I learn from every email and every newsletter you send, as that gets filtered into my life and my church. You are making a difference where you are as well, bringing light to the darkness. I leave you with the words from Isaiah 61 that became Jesus' own description of His ministry when He taught in the temple (Luke 4) - and my own reflection on the passage.
May God bless you today. I love you!
Beauty for ashes, hope for despair
What do you see, Lord, when you look over there?
The world calls it hopeless, or claims it's okay
That the darkness seems to hold such a sway.
Oil of gladness, garment of praise
When, oh, when, will their voices raise
In praise to You, Lord, to call you by name?
What will it sound like on that great day
When my voice and theirs, heart languages
Lifting up to Your throne in unity singing?
Let me see it Lord, Your eyes not mine
Oaks for Your glory, in Your perfect time.