Friday, July 20, 2012

Feeling Unsupported

In fact, James, Peter, and John, who were known as pillars of the church, recognized the gift God had given me, and they accepted Barnabas and me as their co-workers….” Galatians 2:9a

Are you feeling unsupported or invalidated by your church family or pastor as you attempt to reach out to Muslim women? If so, you are not alone. You long for the pastor to understand how lonely and difficult it is to be involved with Muslims. If you have joined a mission organization and plan to go overseas you will most likely go through your church’s procedures to be approved to receive financial support. But you need more than money. You desire prayer, interest, and understanding. God bless the churches that faithfully stand alongside people reaching out to Muslims! Some of you reading this are ministering overseas and feel forgotten. You are longing for an email from your pastor or missions committee. My heart goes out to you Christian women, in particular, who haven’t joined a mission organization nor NGO but are investing in a Muslim neighbor or colleague. You want so badly for your church to stand behind you in prayer and emotional support but it seems that unless a Muslim woman actually comes to the Sunday morning service the church folks can’t easily visualize your ministry so there is minimal interest in what you are doing. Perhaps your church friends can’t understand why you even care about Muslims. You are to be commended. You are not doing your “own personal ministry”. Rather you are doing God’s Kingdom work – the work of the Church. Keep on keeping on! God validates you and supports you.

I have been in ministry for nearly 35 years now and have walked this road from time to time. There have been some very painful experiences. Some of the lessons I’ve learned on this journey have been to accept being a servant of Christ and all that implies, forgive and bless those who have failed to pray, understand, or have suddenly dropped financial support with no reason given, and to develop an email network of fellow Christians from across the globe whom I regularly inform of what I am walking through in ministry. God raises up select people who will lift our weary spirits. He has designed some older women, who initially were strangers to me, who have been like “mother hens”. It can help to lower our expectations that our pastors should be vitally interested in what we are doing. When I observe all the stresses and pressures that pastors are confronted with I don’t want to place more expectations on them. Some of you are holding back getting involved in Muslim outreach because you are not getting the endorsement or encouragement you need from your church. You are ready but your church isn’t. But, I urge you that if God has called you to engage with Muslims you should confidently move forward. God has all kinds of surprising ways to bolster us.

Dear heavenly Father, You are tenderly watching over my sisters. Meet them in their need. In Jesus’ name, Amen.