After reading “A Call to Missions” I have been following some of the solid advice given to those who consider missions. Read missionary biographies. I started by reading Charles Ludwig’s “Mama Was A Missionary” just because the title was irresistable – not to mention the great hairdo on the frontpage! Talk about a ‘fro! That book was an account of Ludwig’s life with his parents, Twyla Ludwig and “Dad” Ludwig, and their service in Kenya starting in 1927 and going until 1961! I am still looking for a copy of his mother’s book, “Polished Pillars”, about Africa’s women. It is probably the most encouraging book I have read in a long, long time, and that counts all the Christian “Self-help” books cramming the shelves. I gave the library’s copy to my mother-in-law as a birthday present, to read as encouragement, and it did the job for her too.
I followed that with Martha Wall’s book “Splinters From An African Log” about her service with Sudan Inland Mission, now SIM, in Nigeria starting in 1938. She was a nurse serving in medical missions (the only kind allowed in many areas that were still colonial) and of being the first, the only, the pioneer, sometimes following in pioneering steps, in many areas of Africa. She has a real call at the end of the book, comparing Christ’s call to missions and evangelization to the call of African drums, sending the news out over the miles. She especially calls men to step into the gap. By her account, she is nothing but a saved sinner and her own wars with sin on the missions field are candidly examined. One point near the end made my heart flutter. It talks about following the verse “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death” (Phil 3:10). She then recounts her own journey towards Christ’s death. We can count the cost all we want in our comfortable home here in North America, but when I think of the cost, especially physical, on my children….well, I see why many people question our wisdom in answering the call to missions while parents of young children. Of the 5 or so missionary children mentioned in the book, only 2 survive, I think. Obviously this is written almost 50 years ago and the health of missionaries is much better attended to, with better drugs and better results, but I still hear missionaries on the field now talking of health problems. Ever since I “prayed the prayer” as a teenager, I have thought that Christ may call me to suffer. When an infant believer, this took the form of fearing possible torture, although why that is so I don’t know – maybe because I am not a big fan of pain. Now as an adult, a mother, considering…no, HOPING, to be on the missions field in 2-3 years, my fears of what God may call me to do/live/suffer revolves mostly around my children. It’s an aftermath to having my heart walking around on those little legs, open to all buffeting, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Yet I wish I could in all good conscience forever shelter them. I know many Christians stay in North America for this very reason…although there are many dangers here as well, and most of them more invisible and insidious than mere health issues. What to do….trust. Yes, trust. In all of the hardships I have so far experienced (and torture’s not on the list unless one can count birth ;), I never expected them, never knew how to deal with them, and yet they have shown me more of God’s love and faithfulness and increased my very small seed of faith. I can only suppose that if He wishes to give more hardships, even ones involving my children, then I can continue to trust Him. See, this is why blogs are useful in thinking things through!
Medical missions have obviously been on my mind, and I have been wondering if God is telling me to get some more training in a health field. I have a BS in Zoology as well as my BA in Global Studies, but it didn’t take me long to realize a BS is worth….pretty much nothing. I will have approximately two years (as far as I know) while Nathan is finishing his Master’s when I could theoretically get more education and/or experience. Doing that while mothering and possibly working boggles the mind, but I’m considering it. But what degree? What field? Midwifery appeals to me based on my recent experiences, but I keep going back to my first area of interest, the field I was seriously considering going into when I met Nathan. That’s getting a Master’s of Public Health, although the degree I’ve been looking at is the distance degree from the University of London, through London’s School of Hygiene and Tropical Health. They have a Master’s of Science (approximately a MPH) in Public Health, and the “major” I find most interesting is Infectious Disease. It’s also a two year degree, although I could get a one year Postgraduate Diploma…but that would mean missing the most interesting courses! It would also cost approximately $15,000. We have not budgeted for $15,000 more! I am hoping our house sale money will see us through two years in Escondido, but that’s a real if right now. Yet we may have to pay $18,000 in rent for one year! If we could live free in Escondido for one year, I could take the two-year Master’s degree. Well, God is big enough….I just wish I knew for sure that that was the best degree, that it is in fact what God wants me to do. Lots more prayer and soul-searching is needed I think – but reading these biographies has been a huge blessing and given me eyes to see the need. If only more people saw the need of the mission field, white with the harvest! My hope and prayer this Easter season is that more people will take Christ’s command to “Go!” and actually do it. May God bless your Easter this 2010.