I was recently asked to speak at a mother’s group I am a part of, but was unable to do so because my daughter got sick, so I thought I would share my story here, since I was unable to do so there. I have been honored to be a part of the Mothers of Preschoolers, or MOPS, group at our church. I love that it offers a community to mothers, where we can come together and not feel so crazy, like we often do while trying to raise small children.
I have 2 children, a 6 month old son, Brayden, and a 2 year old daughter, Sharles.
Anyway, I was asked to speak about this question: what is something brave you can do in the next 6 months or so? When I thought about it, the answer seemed pretty easy to me and probably even to most people who know me, but when I really began to think and process after she asked me to speak, the answer was different than even what I thought it would be.
I began to study what brave and it’s synonym, courageous, mean. Let’s not blow past this definition. Let’s spend a minute here really thinking about being brave is. It is not only using your mind, but also the Spirit to help us face difficult days, tasks, events. Bravery helps us overcome dangerous situations. Even when harm comes our way, we have to be brave and push through it. Bravery helps us deal with pain-physical, emotional and spiritual pain-and it helps us push through it. But most encouraging, bravery helps us overcome these things without fear! Especially when we have God with us, the Spirit I mentioned earlier, we can more easily face things without fear. There are many frightening things each of us have to endure, and I know many of you have had to bravely walk through things in the past, whether they be issues with family, working on your marriage, fostering children, adopting children, getting baptized, attending church, making a new friend, talking with a stranger, having surgery, saying goodbye to loved ones, taking care of sick children, dealing with a strong willed child, and the list goes on and on.
My family and I are moving to Bangkok in less than 2 weeks. It is even crazy to say that out loud because it doesn’t seem that real to me, but in 2 weeks, I am moving to a country that I have never even visited. My family and I are moving to Bangkok, Thailand with our church. My husband will become the pastor of our campus there. To me though, that isn’t what is brave because I have moved to a different country before. Last year, my husband, daughter and I lived in Haiti, which was a much scarier place than where we are going to in Bangkok because it was a third world country. The poverty rate is incredibly low and it used to be one of the most dangerous cities in the world. So to me, following God’s lead to move with my husband and family to a different country isn’t new. It was actually a relief when God started to call us out of Haiti and for him to send us to Bangkok.
We faced many hardships while we lived in Haiti-from poverty, to language barriers, cultural barriers, superficial faith; it also took its toll on our marriage and our family. I don’t share this with you to be cynical or depressing, but I share it to say at times it was difficult, but I made it through it. There were days, especially nearing the end of our time in Haiti, when I thought I just couldn’t do it another day, but i did. I pushed through it with courage, and I did it. I must have done it better than I remember too because God is sending me another country! Even though it was sometimes difficult, sometimes dangerous and sometimes even painful, I bravely conquered it, and it made me stronger.
But to me, it doesn’t seem like I was brave because God is the One who helped me through it. But, of course, I am still nervous in my flesh and have all the “What if?” questions running through my head when I think about moving with 2 small children to Bangkok. Have I mentioned I have never been there before? But I can be brave because I know God will handle it because that is what He has called me to do.
Even though I share all of that, it’s not the bravest part for me. You see, I am a mother, like some of you, so I like to be in control of things. You all know what I mean, right? Sharles do this and Brayden do that. No, not that way, this way! Right? So when we move this time, I will have 2 small children, and that means I have to move as a mother 1st and do ministry 2nd. I know that my kids are my first priority, and must teach them about God before I can even begin to focus and teach others about Him.
When we moved to Haiti, I was involved in many things. We ran a children’s home. I taught them English and the Bible and discipled the ladies who lived with us. I was involved in several other of the ministries there too. I was able to do more things because I only had 1 child, and we lived where I did most of my ministry, but in Bangkok this will be different. We will have our own place and ministry will have to be more intentional. It will also be more difficult because Thailand is only about 1% Christian and about 90-95% Buddhist, whereas in Haiti, it was about 80-90% Christian.
So knowing that I have 2 kids to take care of and disciple them first, I have had to take a step back and be okay with finding my place of ministry when we get there. I have had to let go of being in control and know that God will lead me when I get there. Even though I am moving to another country that I have never visited, and it seems like there is so many unknowns with that, I have moved to another country once before and I have friends in Bangkok that can help me understand what to expect, but I have never not known my place in ministry. From the time I became a Christian, I have always known my place in ministry. Don’t misunderstand what I am saying, I know God will show me when I get there because there are so many ministry opportunties, but it is hard for me not knowing now, and not being able to prepare before I get there.
So the bravest thing I will do in the next 6 months is let go of my control, try to be patient, and let God lead me without being fearful of the outcome. Remember the definition of brave I shared earlier? It says being brave is facing something without fear. So, that is what I am trying to do-face the many unknowns that lie ahead of me without fear, including letting God lead me in the plans He has already prepared for me in Bangkok.
Psalm 27:14 sums this up nicely for me:
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!
I just have to keep reminding myself to wait on The Lord. I have to be strong in Him. The whole chapter talks about fearing others and the evil that is in the world, but I just have to keep reminding myself to be patient and have courage that The Lord will bring me through anything and everything.
I would like to ask you to pray for me as I transition there, and find my place of ministry and to also be okay if my children are my only ministry opportunity there because that may be the only thing God has called me to there. I would also like to encourage you to think about how you want to be brave in the next 6 months. It may be difficult, but if you make a plan to get through it will be much less scary and much easier to conquer it.
The motto for MOPS this year is “Be Bravely You”, so that is what I encourage you to do.