Revive Our Hearts Radio

How to Serve While Lonely and Discouraged

Leslie Basham: When “Tina” was first called to the mission field she was young and eager to spend her life serving the Lord overseas. But later when she landed on foreign soil, her enthusiasm was curtailed by culture shock and unmet expectations.

Tina: In those times when I’ve thought, Lord, what am I going to do? I’m just so sad. I’m so lonely. The Lord has brought His Word back time and time again.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Surrender, for October 23, 2018.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: We’re continuing our conversation today with a woman we’re calling “Tina.” That’s not her real name, but she’s serving the Lord in a country in Asia where Christians are not welcome. There are some security precautions we’re taking, so we’re calling her “Tina.” Her husband we’re calling “Daniel.”

On tomorrow’s program you’ll get to meet her mom and hear more about her mom’s journey, releasing her daughter to serve the Lord in a country far away. Tina, you’re home on furlough—just a few days left here. It’s been sixteen years since the Lord first took you to this Asian country.

Thank you for taking precious family time from one of your last few days here to share with our listeners about how the Lord has led and directed in your life.

Tina: Thank you, Nancy. It’s a real joy to be back with you.

Nancy: We met when we were both single, neither of us expecting that the Lord would take us on the journey He’s had us on. My husband and I are going to write a book next year called You Can Trust God to Write Your Story. We’ve experienced that so much personally; you’ve experienced it.

You shared a little bit yesterday about how the Lord drew your heart to want your life to be entirely His, and to see His heart for the world, for the nations, and for bringing together a people from every tribe and language and country of the world to praise and honor Jesus Christ.

He drew your heart to say, “It may not be comfortable, it may not be convenient, but if this is what God has for me, then I gladly say ‘yes.’” And you went trained with some medical skills to an Asian country as a single woman sixteen years ago.

Our listeners can go back if they didn’t catch yesterday’s program to ReviveOurHearts.com and hear the story of how the Lord brought you and Daniel together (again, not his real name). He’s a national who was serving the Lord as a medical doctor in this country.

And the Lord has kept you there these years. When you first went to this country, did you think this was going to be for many years? What were you thinking at that point?

Tina: You know, Nancy, a lot of people go to the mission field and do short-term mission trips, and that’s an end-all, be-all in itself. They know that they’re going just for a short time, and then they’re returning to their life in United States, or wherever.

Others will go to the mission field for short-term trips to try to test the waters and see, “Where do I want to be? Do I want to be here? Do I want to do this? Can I be useful?”

Nancy: Right. You did that when you were younger yourself, your first time out of the country.

Tina: I did. That was my first time out of the country, when I went to Papua, New Guinea. But at that point, I already knew that the Lord was calling me to missions. But yes, that was a short-term mission trip and that really impacted my life.

Nancy: It kind of scared you a little bit, too!

Tina: Yes. It kind of was opposite of what the plan turned out to be, because after that trip I said, “Hmm. This is not very comfortable out here living in the jungle and bathing in the river. Maybe I’m going to do something else. I’ll take short-term mission trips in the summer.”

But as I said on yesterday’s program, the Lord was so patient with me and just really drew my heart to Himself. He then really taught me and gave me the perspective that, “Life is not about being comfortable; that’s not the highest ideal that is out there. Your life is not for you; it is for Me!”

And so, when all of that was really driven home in my heart, then I knew, “I’m going to go to the mission field.” So my first experience to be on the mission field long-term was with the idea of being a career missionary. I kind of “signed on the dotted line” that, “Here I am, Lord. Send me.” I really did not think that I would come back to the United States.

And I can remember, there was someone there in my life at that time who wanted me to be a little bit more hesitant to be that confident that I was going to be there for a lifetime. I’m sure they were speaking out of wisdom, but I was just so fired up and ready, and just knew that the Lord had called me for this.

Without trying to be proud about it, I just said, “This is what I want to do. I want to serve you for a lifetime, Lord!” So I went, and I went as a career missionary.

Nancy: Was there any point when you got there in those early months or years where you kind of started second-guessing that at all, or thinking, This is harder than I expected, or different than I expected, and I’m not sure. Did you have any moments like that?

Tina: Absolutely! And the first one was right off the airplane. The night that I landed in this country, and I was alone. I didn’t travel with anyone. We did have other people with our mission that were there in the country, but I’d never been with them before.

Nancy: And you’d never been in that country before, right?

Tina: Except for the Papua, New Guinea mission trip and then a short mission trip I took to Mexico, I had never been out of the United States. So I landed the first night, and there were some people from the mission that came to pick me up.

The first thing they told me was, “Your placement is cancelled.” (This placement that I was supposed to have in a mission hospital.) They said, “You have no place to go right now. But don’t worry, you’ll just start learning language, and you’ll figure it out in the next couple of years.” I had a two-year commitment at that point before my first furlough.

So right out of the starting gate, all of my hopes and dreams and all the plans were kind of dashed. I just, again, laid myself before the Lord and said, “Okay, Lord, here I am. You do what You want to do with me.”

As the days went on, there was a lot of cultural shock because, as you said, I had never been in this country. I had never smelled the things I was smelling. I had never heard the language that was all around me. I didn’t know how to get along culturally. There was so much that I didn’t understand and culture shock hit big time!

I can remember one night just saying, “What have I done? I’ve signed on the dotted line that this is what I’m going to spend the rest of my life doing, and I don’t like this place at all! I have two years—at least!—before I can go back and even see family or be back in the United States.” So that was very difficult!

That culture shock remained with me for a time. It came back again the first Christmas. The country where I was did not celebrate Christmas, but I happened to catch a little snippet from CNN or something and see malls that were decorated back in the United States.

I just had that feeling of intense loneliness that, “It’s Christmas in the United States, and I’m not there, and I don’t have any family with me!”

Nancy: What did the Lord use in those moments to strengthen or encourage your heart or help you keep pressing on?

Tina: Well, His Word, I think, over and over again. In those times that have been discouraging, in those times when I’ve thought, Lord, what am I going to do? I’m just so sad. I’m so lonely, the Lord has brought His Word back time and time again.

This passage in Mark 10:29–30 has always stayed with me in those times. It’s a promise, really. Jesus says,

Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age (NASB).

I really found that to be true. The Lord really comforted me through His Word, but He also gave me people in my life. They weren’t my family, I wasn’t related to them by blood, but because we were believers, people in the mission, other Christians that I had met and was forming relationships with on the field.

I began to see that the family of God is all over the world, and those ties are stronger than blood. So the Lord really used those people in my life to comfort me in those times when I felt desperately lonely and was without my own family.

Nancy: Paul says when it got hard for him in his missionary journeys. There was opposition and difficulty, adversity. He said, “The Lord stood by me and strengthened me” (2 Tim. 4:17). And even in those times, whether you’re serving the Lord here in this country or in some far-flung place of the world, there are times when human friends and family are just not available, or they desert us or abandon us.

Paul says, “The Lord stood by me and strengthened me.” So when it comes down to it, the ultimate Friend to have in those moments is the Friend who sticks closer than a brother, who will never leave us, who has promised that He will always be with us!

Tina: Absolutely!

Nancy: I know you’ve experienced some of that especially as you spent those first few years there as a single woman in that far-away Asian country. Even when the Lord brought Daniel into your life and you had a companion, you were still in a place that was far away from home and still needed the Lord to comfort and encourage and sustain you over the long haul.

You and Daniel are serving the Lord in a country that is not hospitable to the gospel, that doesn’t welcome Christians and Christians workers. So tell us a little bit about what have been some of the joys—first of all—as you’ve served the Lord there. How have you seen God at work and the gospel light shining into this difficult place?

Tina: Well, without a doubt, Nancy, the greatest miracle is the miracle of new birth in Christ Jesus! It is the greatest thing to watch! As the Lord has given us over the last sixteen years (and my husband was actually involved in missions long before that) . . .

As He’s allowed us to work in this part of the world and we’ve seen people come out of darkness and false religion into the light of the Lord Jesus Christ . . . just being able to be on the sidelines . . . I always say I’m a “cheerleader” for these that we love who were in darkness and then—through the gospel—come into the light. Those are really the greatest joys that you can experience!

Nancy: Are some of these people that you’ve watched come to know Christ people who had no previous background or knowledge of Christ?

Tina: Yes.

Nancy: I want you to paint a picture for us of what you might have been experiencing with those people.

Tina: Okay. So one of the first women who came to the Lord (who remains a very good friend of mine) was a woman who was helping me in the house. As she would wash dishes at the sink and I was at our little stove over on the other side of the room, I just began to share with her each day.

We were walking through the New Tribes materials called “Creation to Christ.” They call it a firm foundations materials. It’s just the story of redemptive history. You start in Genesis, and you work through.

Each day as we would work together over those dishes and whatever I was cooking on the stove, I would share more of the story with her.

Nancy: And this was all new to her?

Tina: This was all brand-new to her. Most of all of the people that we work with have never even heard the name of Jesus Christ. They’ve never heard of the living God.

Nancy: Wow.

Tina: So this woman was hearing the Bible. She was hearing all these wonderful stories that we hear from God’s Word, many of us, from the time that we’re children. But here she is as an adult, and she’s hearing these names, and she’s hearing the name of the living God for this first time.

We’re talking about the holiness of God and His character. We’re talking about the sin of man and the fall and the need for the Savior. And here comes the Savior as we get into the New Testament.

Nancy: Could you tell that her heart was open and hungry?

Tina: Yes. She was soft; she was so tender and so interested.

Nancy: So the Holy Spirit had gone before and prepared her heart.

Tina: Oh, absolutely! She also began to attend the church. My husband, though he is a medical doctor by profession, he has also done his seminary training. And really, his greater heart is for the church. He’s one of the teaching pastors at our church currently.

But at that time he would often preach on a Sunday in our local church. So she began to come to church. All of this was going on for about a year-and-a-half when one Easter, my husband preached at church in the morning.

She came to my house in the afternoon, and she came for one purpose. She said, “Didi [which means “big sister”], I want to give myself to Jesus Christ!” We both knelt there in our living room. I prayed with her. She asked the Lord to come into her life, and she was just a new creation. It was so obvious, Nancy.

Nancy: Wow!

Tina: She did not have any support at home. As a matter of fact, she received persecution back in her home—not physical, but verbal persecution—and in her community.

These are very tightly-knit villages and places where we live, and so when someone comes to the Lord and is no longer following the religion that they were following, the whole community can be up in arms about this. So she had to really take a stand and endure a lot for the sake of Christ.

She has remained firm in her faith and continues to be a great evangelist in her village, to this day. I go back now and try to visit her every other year to keep encouraging her. . .and call her on the phone, and she’s walking strongly with the Lord. So those are the great joys that you see.

I would say another joy that we have seen as of late, in the last few years, is just the church. I’m talking about, now, the local church where we are. In our area there are many, many house churches that have sprung up in the last fifteen years or so.

Nancy: And how many people might those be? Those are small, I assume?

Tina: Each of these house churches may have five or ten members or maybe twenty. Where we are, we have kind of what is the “mother church,” which really just started out as a chapel.

My husband is very passionate for Christ’s church being a biblical church, a maturing church that has leaders who know God’s Word, who can proclaim God’s Word, who can shepherd their people. And then, to see those who are in the congregation growing and maturing in Christ.

Nancy: Sounds like the New Testament to me.

Tina: Absolutely. That’s what he’s really passionate about, and in the last few years that’s what he, with other men, have been working towards and putting their time and their energy and their prayers into.

And so we have really seen that come forth in what used to be this little chapel which was kind of a loose gathering of Christians on a Sunday. That has become a local church, a thriving body of believers!

And we so those people—most of them a first-generation out of false religion—and how they are beginning to understand God’s Word as these pastors are faithfully proclaiming it week after week and then shepherding the people.

And we, again, just get to be on the sidelines cheering them on, coming along beside them as the Lord is sanctifying them.

Nancy: And in many cases, would these Christians have a lot of unbelieving family members?

Tina: Yes, usually. So if we’re talking about the women (my ministry is with women), they are probably the only believer in their family. And, Nancy, I’ll tell you. It is so convicting when we live in an age where the people think that the church is optional, where they think that it’s okay to sit in front of a TV on a Sunday morning and have church. They don’t really feel a need or a desire. Maybe they felt disappointment with their local church and feel that it’s kind of optional.

These are women who encourage me so much, because I know that Christ’s heart is for His Church, and that doesn’t mean a building. But it means us together as believers, not “lone ranger” Christians. I think a lone ranger Christian is a concept totally foreign to God’s Word.

And here are these women, Nancy, whom many of them are illiterate. They cannot read God’s Word for themselves. They don’t drive to church. There are not a lot of cars where we live (we are in a very rural area), and women don’t know how to drive anyway. They walk to church.

There are women who walk forty-five minutes, an hour, just so they can come and be in God’s house. And not only that, Nancy, there are times when we will see a woman who will come in and she has a black eye. You ask her what has happened. Well, her husband has beat her up because he did not want her to go to church.

And so, she’s been beaten, and then she’s somehow gotten permission or she has made the effort, and she has come to be present in God’s house, so she can be under the teaching of the Word of God, so she can be with the fellow saints for the encouragement that she can receive and give.

Nancy: In spite of the risks and the challenges involved for her—which we basically have no concept of here in this country . . . We do it if it’s easy and convenient. But these believers know that they need each other!

They need the life, they need to be connected to the Vine and to other “branches” that are in the Vine, and that this is how they can be sustained spiritually in a really hard place!

Tina: Yes, and they feel that so strongly, and they are willing to go to great lengths to be able to be part of the local church, to be able to be under the teaching of God’s Word. There’s one woman that I have in a Bible study that I teach on Thursdays . . . Again, this is a dear woman who loves the Lord and can barely read—it’s very difficult for her to read anything from God’s Word.

So I’ve been teaching this Bible study in the place where we have lived now for the last six years. She’s one that will say to me, “When you don’t come for one week [for whatever reason I was not present], it’s like I’ve been a year without being under the hearing of God’s Word! Please keep coming!”

She’ll just beg and entreat me to continue on with this Bible study. So you have people that are hungry and thirsty like that.

Nancy: I’m thinking of that verse in Proverbs that says, “The full soul loathes an honeycomb; but to the hungry man every bitter thing is sweet” (Prov. 27:7 paraphrased). And I think we have so much opportunity here in this country, so much exposure, so many resources and tools. We can just swim in the riches of the proclaimed Word.

As a result, I think we’ve kind of become ho-hum about it. We can take it or leave it in so many cases.

But here you have a part of the world where there’s just a dearth of biblical teaching, gospel teaching, available. People are moved by the Holy Spirit; they’re starved for it; they’re hungry for it. They’ll go to great lengths, overcoming great odds to be able to have it. It just makes you want to pray, “Lord, give us hungry hearts!”

God has sent you to a place where He is creating hunger, and yet you’ve also experienced that there are many people you’ve ministered to for whom the light has not been turned on yet; they haven’t seen, or they’ve seemed to go away (I’ve read your communications, your newsletters over the years). There are some who seem to follow Christ for awhile, but in time of testing they fell away. That has to be discouraging for you at times.

Tina: Sure, it is. But you remember back to the parable of the seeds, and you know that you sow the gospel—the seed of the gospel. To sow it is your responsibility. God is responsible for the harvest. He’s responsible for changed lives.

So, Nancy, we just go on. Our job is to be faithful. That’s the job of any believer anywhere in the world. It’s very easy sometimes to think, Well, I’m not going to share with [this person or that person]; they’ll never believe. They’re too hard!

Or maybe out of fear sometimes, we don’t even want to even share with those who may be right around us, just going next door!

Nancy: Yes, forget going around the world.

Tina: Right. I mean, we all have these opportunities: your coworker, your neighbor next door, the person that you see at the gym every day. There are all of these people all around us, and we think, Oh, well, they would never listen. They would never come.

Well, that’s not our business to know or to be concerned about. That’s up to the Lord. The Lord has told me, “Sow the seed.” I have this precious treasure. I have the greatest news in the whole world that makes the difference between someone’s eternity in Heaven and in Hell. If out of fear of man I hold that to myself, what a great tragedy that is!

So, no, we go and we sow the seed, and we keep sowing the seed. And, yes, some is going to fall on the rocky ground, some is going to be eaten by the birds, but there is going to be some that’s going to fall on the good soil and the Lord is going to bring the yield and the harvest in His timing.

Nancy: Yes.

Tina: And, Nancy, just as another example, just to encourage your listeners to persevere if they’re trying to share the gospel with someone and they’re not seeing results. The hospital where we are based . . . (We have a ministry in the hospital, but my husband is also involved in church planting and in pastoral leadership training.)

That hospital was started 120 years ago, and there have been faithful people over the years that have sown the seeds of the gospel, that have prayed. There are so many examples that we’ve heard of—missionaries that spent forty-four years of their life there who maybe saw two or three people that they could say came to the Lord.

So someone could ask, “Well, was my life just wasted?” No! Because now we see, 120 years later, in the area where we are, by the grace of God, a few years ago there was this great harvest that came forth! Now we have all of these house churches throughout the surrounding villages and communities and true believers in the Lord. Lots of them!

And it’s a great joy! But if those missionaries had given up or had never started 120 years ago, what would be there today? So go forward. You don’t even know, in your own lifetime, if you’re going to see anything.

But the Word of God does not return void! When it goes forth, it will accomplish the purpose for which the Lord has intended it—so speak it!

Nancy: Wow, thank you Tina. We want to pick up this conversation tomorrow, and we want to bring your mother to the table here in our studio and talk with her about what it’s been like for her as a mom to release her daughter and her grandchildren to serve the Lord in this other part of the world.

So be sure and join us here tomorrow for Revive Our Hearts.

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth talking to a woman we’re calling “Tina,” who has given her life to passionately follow the Lord. I hope you’re challenged to share the love of Jesus with someone today. I also hope you’ll think about other ways of helping spread the gospel to a lost world.

One way is to give financially to those like Tina on the mission field, or to support ministries and organizations who faithfully proclaim and honor the name of Jesus. Have you been encouraged by today’s program? Would you keep Revive Our Hearts in mind as you consider where to send your support?
We hear from women around the world who are hungry to hear God’s Word taught in their own language, such as Farsi, Portuguese, and French. Our desire is to make the Revive Our Hearts program available in multiple languages for these women. Your gift helps us reach that goal, and it propels the message of freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ to women all across the globe.

When you support this ministry with a gift of any amount we’ll say “thanks” by sending you the Revive Our Hearts 2019 wall calendar. Each page includes lovely floral designs, Scripture verses, and brief quotes from Nancy’s book Seeking Him. Visit ReviveOurHearts.com to make a donation and get the calendar, or call us at 1–800–569–5959 and ask for the calendar with your gift.

It’s one thing to surrender your life to the Lord and go wherever He sends you. It’s another to release your children to God and allow them to follow God’s will for their lives. Tomorrow we’ll hear from a mother who submitted to God’s plan for her daughter to serve in a country far away. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants you to boldly proclaim Jesus as Lord. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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