A New Chapter
I was content.
Truly, I was.
I had examined the prospect of living a steady, fairly normal life, and I had decided that it was possible. I could do it. I would do it.
When I returned from Mozambique and asked God where He wanted to send me next, He'd clearly told me to remain in America. So I stayed, and I learned as much in the staying as I had in the going. But, after a few years, a restlessness broke through the calm; stirring the depths of my half-forgotten dreams and bringing all my memories back to vibrant life. I wasn't sure what to do with this sudden deluge of longing. I thought, 'I'm not supposed to want this any more...am I?'
So, for a while, I fought. I fought to live in the present while my mind clung tenaciously to the past and my emotions lingered somewhere in between. I fought for reconciliation with the life I felt I must live. I fought for the old peace, the old joy, the old contentment. But, as they perpetually eluded my grasp, I began, at last, to wonder if God was removing the old to prepare me for something new. Was this restlessness a part of God's plan? Was it time for a new command? A new direction?
A new chapter?
One word, in answer to long months of prayer for direction.
The reply to my many prayers concerning the lovely country that intrigued and fascinated and haunted me.
It was a simple enough command, but one, I felt, that needed further explanation. Once I'd caught my breath and gathered my wits, I stormed the Holy of Holies with a list of questions.
"Do You want me to go in real life, or is this purely figurative; going in the Spirit through prayer, or something? And if You want me to go in real life," My stern common sense cautiously skirted the rush of excitement conjured by those words and went straight on to the difficulties, "who am I supposed to go with? I don't really know anyone in Mozambique right now. But," I hastened to assure God - and myself - of my complete willingness, "If You want me to go, just give me someone to go with."
There was no answer, so I continued with life as usual. But, Marylike, I treasured up these things and remembered them in my heart. I dreamed many dreams, but I did not share them with anyone, determined that, if God wanted me to return to Mozambique, He would work out each detail in His own timing and His own way.
And so, of course, He did.
While I was watching and waiting, God was working in the hearts and lives of Jon and Carla Reinagel - the couple I'd stayed with during my mission trip and who had been living in the U.S. for the past three years - and preparing them to follow His call to return to Mozambique. I almost never remember to write important things down, so I'm unsure if Jon and Carla told me of their calling before or after I'd received mine. However, if they had mentioned anything, it was very brief and undecided. They did not even enter my mind as potential companions when I contemplated my possible return to Mozambique. But, all unbeknownst to me, they were saying their own 'yeses', taking steps of faith and trust, following His direction. And when their prospective path intersected with my own, I began to wonder...
But I kept my silence, leery of jumping too far ahead and pushing open the doors I so desperately wished to enter. I prayed and I waited. I listened as their plans took shape and I began to see the pieces fitting together. Their visions and passions coincided with mine as God's purpose unfolded before our eyes.
Jon and Carla needed someone with skills in writing and photography to help keep them connected with their partners here in the States.
I was hungry for mentorship, for spiritual challengers and encouragers, for a community that extended beyond church walls and bi-weekly Bible studies.
The Reinagels are like a second family, in more ways than one. We're comfortable with each other, we work well together, we laugh together (a lot), and they've given me practical advice, encouragement and prayer during times of struggle. I respect and admire them both, and if I had to make a list of all the non-relatives I'd most like to live with, they'd be right at the top.
Discipleship and church unity are two things that I have been working for, praying for, and talking about for several years.
Those are two areas on which Jon and Carla will be especially focused.
I've harbored concern that I, as an American missionary, risk bringing an Americanized 'gospel' and imposing western ideas on a culture where they will be neither understandable nor helpful.
Jon and Carla are not going to Mozambique to start their own project. They are returning at the request of a Mozambican pastor to help him fulfill his vision of educating Christian leaders who will build up their own country. Mozambican ideas, Mozambican Christians, Mozambican leaders...it sounds like common sense to me.
I had, all unreasonably, loved and longed for a country I'd visited for a short time 3 years ago.
Because maybe, I was supposed to go back.
And so the list went on and on, with so many answered prayers, so much 'coincidence', so many things that fit, unexpectedly, beautifully, together. As the three of us prayed and talked and prayed some more, it became clear to me that this was truly God's plan.
So I am returning to Mozambique.
I am not certain why God's sending me. It's not as if I have anything particularly spectacular to offer. I'm just one simple soul who marvels, awestruck, at the plans of God and how He chooses to use the small and foolish things of this world to shame the wise and the strong. I go in a spirit of humility, expecting to learn far more than I could ever teach. I go in eagerness, knowing that, when the excellent and the wonderful come to fruition, I may point heavenward in the certainty that the glory must go to Him and not at all to me.
Perhaps the fullest range of my thoughts may be most adequately expressed in Jeremiah's prophecy of the coming Messiah; an incredible picture of redemption, discipleship, and equipping others to do the work that God sets before them.
'The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of our God's vengeance; to comfort all who mourn, to provide for those who mourn in Zion; to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, festive oil instead of mourning, and splendid clothes instead of despair. And they will be called righteous trees, planted by the Lord to glorify Him.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins;
they will restore the former devastations;
they will renew the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.'
Isaiah 61: 1 - 4