Most of this post came from a journal entry, straight from my heart, posted here with the goal of sharing this adventure honestly and sincerely with you – both the good and the bad. You’ve already seen the ugly, after all! My fingers are looking pretty decent tonight, by the way. Not quite ready for the back-to-“normal” photo shoot, but hopefully soon!
Location: Neno village.
Date: April 26, 2016.
Already feeling that I am in over my head, having bitten off more than I can chew. Less than 2 weeks on the field. How can I be overwhelmed already?
My brain feels overloaded, tired, saturated, and incapable of remembering the dozen “Survival Phrases” (greetings and pleasantries) I am trying to cram into it.
Incessantly itching bug bites are driving me insane.
An inflamed and infected left thumb is not only painful, but taking care of it wastes so much time.
Diminished amenities and conveniences (and the thumb condition) make daily tasks take longer.
24 hours here just are not as productive as 24 hours might be somewhere else. And, starting next week, I wonder how I will be able to organize my time and energy (already diminished due to the heat) to fit in the required 8 hours a day of Culture and Language Acquisition, which I am still super-excited to officially begin.
And there are a couple other frustrations as well. Nothing major, truly, but all the little things add up to OVERWHELMING.
But I remember what I prayed just last night– “Father, make me a warrior fit for the battle.” What prompted such a prayer? Don’t worry; the days of tribal wars ended in this region almost forty years ago. It was my evening Bible reading.
1 Chronicles 12 talks about mighty men who came to David in Ziklag. Wimpy warriors, step aside! These men were helpers of the war, arriving at a time when David needed them. There were battles to be fought, families to be defended, dangers to be faced. Yet these men put their lives on the line. They must have believed that David was a leader worth following, and that the cause he was fighting for was worth the sacrifices and suffering they would endure to fight alongside him.
The Bible records the names of some of these mighty men – Ahiezer, Joash, Jeziel, Pelat, Berachah, Jehu, Ismaiah, Jeremiah, Jahaziel, Johanan, Josabad, Eluzai, Jerimoth, Bealiah, Shemariah, Shephatiah, Elkanah, Jesiah, Azareel, Joezer, Jashobeam, Joelah, Zebadiah, and men from the tribe of Gad.
Although their names appear in the pages of Scripture, they certainly aren’t famous. At least I hadn’t remembered any of them specifically, despite reading 1 Chronicles dozens of times, and knowing that a band of mighty men helped David. But David was the famous one.
Yet these dedicated men fought alongside David in times of difficulty, stress and uncertainty. Verse 8 says, “And of the Gadites there separated themselves unto David into the hold to the wilderness men of might, and men of war fit for the battle, that could handle shield and buckler, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as the roes upon the mountains.”
More than anything, I want to be a mighty woman, a helper of the war. It’s not my war; I’m not the leader (Thank goodness! That would be a mess. I’m happy just being a helper). Jesus is the one in charge here. And He is waging war right here in this village, not against the Neno, but FOR the Neno, against the enemy who wants to destroy these precious people. There is so much at stake; their lives, their families, their culture, their future, their eternity.
In light of all this, I too have separated myself, not into the wilderness but into a native village. Why? It’s because Jesus is a leader worth fighting alongside, and His cause is worth any sacrifice or suffering that I might go through in this war. After all, Jesus already DIED to save the Neno people (as well as every other person on earth) from sin and death.
As a great missionary once said, “If Jesus Christ be God, and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.” C.T. Studd, 1860-1931
How I pray that in the strength of Jesus I will prove to be a woman of might, a woman ready for the battles which lie ahead, leaving all my wimpy-warrior tendencies behind. May I run strong, as fast as wild pigs through the jungle. May my face be like a jaguar (since there are no lions in the Amazon), focused, determined, and unafraid in the face of obstacles, refusing to give up even when the going gets tough.
You may be in the thick of life’s war right now, my friend. If not, battles and struggles are sure to come at some point. May I challenge you with something? Make absolutely sure that you know who and what you are fighting for. If your leader isn’t worth following, your suffering will be pointless. If your cause isn’t worth dying for, please don’t waste your time and yourself living for it either.
But if you are fighting for Someone who deserves your loyalty, Something that goes far beyond this world, you already know that the battle is worth any risk and any cost. So run strong, fight hard, and never look back. I’m praying for you tonight, that in Jesus’ strength you will be a mighty warrior, ready for the challenges that lie ahead.