Well I woke up this morning, and today I have been fighting intense discouragement. Discouragement about how my time is being used here and what my purpose is (still not any closer to really figuring this one out). I was feeling as though I have wasted so much time, and have been dealing with a lot of frustration about specifically how my time is spent here.
Before I came to Africa, I expected to come here and dive right into ministry. I expected to be living life with the people here and constantly showing them the love of Christ. But as I look back over these past five weeks, the percentage of my time between spending time with the nationals and the other missionaries or at the guest house has been more than disappointing. I only get to spend 2 to 3 hours a day maximum with the nationals, and the rest of my time is spent with the other missionaries, eating meals, or just spending time at the guest house. It's like I'm living an American life in the middle of Africa. And I can't help but have this thought eat away at my mind saying, "Jordan, what are you doing? You're wasting so much time!!! How is God really using you? What impact are you having on these people?" I'm telling you, I really can't put into words how discouraging these thoughts have been. Especially when I've had this desire to come to Africa for 4 years now - this is completely not what I expected.
I've reached the end of myself. My spirit is broken. Today, I have reached the lowest point of discouragement. I feel so trapped. I don't have any freedom really to just go out and do ministry for a few reasons: (1) I can't speak the language. (2) I depend on my supervisors to drive me places. (3) I can't take taxis anymore because of certain circumstances. I feel so helpless.
My prayers have been reduced to the simplest form because I just don't know what to pray anymore. "Father, glorify your name and sanctify me during my time here. Refine me through your fire and do whatever it takes to bring glory to yourself." I feel that through that simple request that surely good will come of these two months.
I also pray that He uses this blog to be a ministry to all of you back home. I don't really have a ministry here, so I feel this blog may be a way the Lord will use me. I feel like I am experiencing a form of suffering during my time here - which I know that to be a disciple of Christ he calls us to a life of suffering - he calls us to take up our cross daily and to follow Him - and the road of the cross is a road full of suffering. So I pray that through my difficulties here that you all will be encouraged in your faith. I pray that you will be challenged to follow Christ more fervently and to take steps that will stretch your faith in Him. If I came here simply to reach people back home, then my time here will be worth it. Or if I came here simply for the Lord to refine me (and not necessarily to reach anyone else) and to reach me, then I will accept that as well.
I did find some encouragement in 2 Corinthians today. A few different verses really spoke to me. So I'll share them with you:
"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him." 2 Corinthians 2:14
From this verse, I simply pray that the Lord would use me to spread a fragrance of the knowledge of Him. Even though I can't speak the language here, I would be delighted if people could sense even the slightest fragrance of our Savior through my being here.
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
I am encouraged by these verses, and I simply pray that the Lord would renew me and renew my strength day by day, moment by moment, because I can't make it through here without Him. I am also so encouraged by the part that says, "we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen." Clearly, I have nothing here to fix my eyes on that can be seen - no personal ministry, no relationships. I can only fix my eyes on my Father and trust that He knows what He is doing.
And here, I am so encouraged by, and so desire this joy that Paul speaks of:
"Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, in hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet no killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bound." 2 Corinthians 6:4-10, 7:4
Oh Lord, let my joy know no bounds!! Even in my troubles! My troubles don't even compare to what Paul went through, yet his joy knew no bounds. I want that joy. A joy that can't be shaken by anything in this world. A joy that says, "I am hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." (2 Corinthians 4:8).
I ask that you would please pray that God would continue to encourage my heart through His word and through His Spirit. I ask that if you feel led to, please send me encouragement as well. Paul speaks of how God comforted him by sending Titus. He said, "But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever." (2 Corinthians 7:6-7). To be a part of the body of Christ is such a blessing because we have the opportunity to encourage and to be encouraged by one another. I come to you now as your sister, and I simply ask as one in need, I seek your encouragement and your prayers.