Throughout my military career, I received orders for movements. Some were for Permanent Changes of duty Station (PCS), some were for Temporary Duty (TDY), and some were for deployments. Deployments ranged in duration, anywhere from a couple of weeks to a year. In my case, the longest was for 18 months. It started out as a one-year tour and was extended for another 6 months. One difference between the three is that a deployment is without your family. I was in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), apart from my family, for three 6-month periods and was afforded the opportunity to come back and see them for a couple of weeks between each period.
So what does this have to do with ministry? These deployments have a lot of similarities, and reminds me of those who are serving as missionaries around the world. Many of them are physically separated from family and loved ones, for varying durations. They are away for a specific “call to duty” which is important, often times spending long tireless days with very little relief, and are often feeling exhausted. They are also challenged with emotional strains varying from discouragement, loneliness, trodden down, sadness, and the list goes on.
Whenever we have a difficult day, it’s always nice to come home and be able to share that with someone, perhaps get a little support and encouragement, and sometimes, just to be heard. On a deployment you only get that type of relief with loved ones through periodic electronic communication, a letter, or other degraded form of direct communication.
I write about this to remind you and remind myself about those who are neglected and often forgotten in the business of our hectic schedules. With the technology we have today, it is much easier to stay in touch with them. Even if they don’t know you personally, they would all love to get an email, an encouraging letter or note, a holiday greeting (many throughout the year), just to let them know that you are thinking of them, praying for them and love what they are doing.
If you don’t know who they are, you can look them up on our website, under the ministries tab and global outreach. We will also be updating that page to give you better contact information, birthdays, anniversaries and other information that we are allowed to post. If you are a Facebook user, you can also find and friend them there if you want to contact them and keep up with what they are doing.
One of the missionaries we support is Laura Rodriguez, daughter of Michael and Leslie, whom you all know is serving in El Salvador. I recently received a message from her. She wanted me to tell everyone at Westhill Church hello and she misses all of you.
She left Montana in September and stayed in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic for 2 months where she received language training. This was a good transition period for her to get used to living on her own, being away from family and the comforts of the United States before starting her missionary work in El Salvador. This transition period was a little tougher than she expected but was thankful that God got her through all the exams and other challenges.
She arrived in San Salvador (capital of El Salvador) in November and stayed at the intern house until her apartment was ready to move into. Her furniture and belongings arrived on December 11 and she was able to move into her apartment the following day. She was able to reconnect with friends and church family during the Christmas break.
She has been busy getting settled into her new position as site associate and developing plans for the upcoming year. All in all, she is thankful and feels blessed to be where she is and excited to see what God has in store for her.
Here is her salutation and prayer request. “Thank you for all your support and your prayers and for being an integral part of the work here. Please continue to pray for wisdom, discernment, and resources for our staff here. There are a lot of upcoming projects, but we are praying God will open and close doors as He wills it! For me, I would appreciate prayers for wisdom as well. My new job is exciting, but there is much to learn and a lot to organize! Please also pray for the COVID situation here. There are rumors going around that after elections end in February, the country will go back on lockdown. Lockdown has severe impacts on a large portion of the population, preventing them from working and putting many at risk for starvation. It also greatly impacts our site as we rely on teams and interns to help sustain the ministries. Please pray that the cases would stay down so we can stay open and that no matter what, that we would look first and foremost to the Lord for our provision and trust in Him.”
As we start a new year, let’s make one of our new personal habits connecting with and staying in touch with our missionaries. If it’s anything like deployments that I have been on, receiving a message or note saying that someone is thinking and praying for you can be a huge encouragement. This is also a tangible way to express our love towards one another. Missionaries often sacrifice a lot in order to do what they are doing for Christ. We can make these small sacrifices to be an encouragement to them.
“For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.” Romans 10:13-15