Sunday, August 4, 2013

Helpful Ministry Tips – Part 1

“But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at bringing others to Christ. Complete the ministry God has given you.” II Timothy 4:5

Paul’s advice to Timothy in II Timothy 4:5 has often spoken personally to me and kept me steady the past 35 years in ministry. In this post I’ll go over his first two pieces of advice and the other two in the next post.

Clear Mind: It seems that one of Satan’s strategies is to make us confused, afraid, and anxious. His scheme is to make us quit ministry or be ineffective. I have experienced a fair share of confusion and shock both in Pakistan and in my homeland. When I left Pakistan I was bewildered why God was leading us back to Canada. Then there was the time when a few of our MBB friends crashed emotionally or spiritually, all at the same time, which left me reeling with shock. Two other times overwhelming crises in my family took place. Sending my children to boarding school in Pakistan overwhelmed me. Deaths of loved ones threw me for a loop. Waiting for biopsy results cast a shadow of anxiety. Physical illness threw me into a fog. Once a woman appeared jealous of me and it nearly did me in. It’s not easy to minister with a clear mind in these situations. I’ve cried out to God frequently to give me a clear mind. He has answered my cry many times by taking me to “higher ground” and reminding me to not get myopic or too analytical. The Holy Spirit is a dependable Counselor and Helper who has brought me through the wilderness my mind can go on.

Suffering: Full time Muslim ministry can have a way of producing isolation from Christians and increasing loneliness, both of which I detest and want to run away from. It demands focus, availability, and commitment of time which is not always understood by my Christian friends. It is hard spiritual work that frequently results in buffeting, resistance, rejection and bruises. I didn’t choose this ministry. I was called to this ministry. Many Christians don’t understand what it means to “be called” because it is popular to chart your own career path. There have been times when I have questioned if “I will make it”. Some well-meaning friends suggest finding other work. Witnessing the fear and dislike many Christians have towards Muslims and their inability to understand the gospel message for the lost makes me so sad – and sometimes vexed. Opposition to truth and spiritual darkness can close in on me. I hate every bit of suffering in this ministry but when it is “for the Lord” it does make a difference who it is for. It’s worth it because I enter a unique partnership with God. Suffering also drives my husband and me to daily prayer times. Suffering alone is intolerable. Partnering in suffering is comforting and strengthening.

Keeping a clear mind and to not be afraid of suffering for the Lord is wise advice I continue to listen to carefully.

  Dear heavenly Father, please encourage a sister who needs these words. In Jesus’ name, Amen.