Monday, January 26, 2015

Frequently Thought, but not Asked, Questions

We get lots of questions. We love questions. When people ask questions, it give us an opportunity to share with them what they care about and what they want to hear. It also can let us know where we may have not communicated as well as we would have liked. Questions are great. The most common questions we get are: "What is the weather like?" "Do your kids like living there?" Or, "What kind of food do they eat?" But we know that there are many other questions in the back of someone’s mind that they don’t feel okay asking.

Here are some of the frequently thought, but not asked, questions and the best answers we have to them.

Aren’t you a little crazy to bring your family to Africa? 
Maybe. But we know that there are people there who need Jesus. There are pastors who desire to be discipled and trained. We have been blessed (growing up in the church, Christian college and seminary educations) to be a blessing and we want to share that with our African friends. 
"To whom much is given, much is required."

Is it dangerous?
That depends on what you think is dangerous. For some it is snakes, other think of illnesses, and others think of violence. Danger is a reality in Africa, but it is here in the States too. Car accidents, cancer, school shootings- all have had their toll on American soil. But each day we each need to get up and do our part. Whether that is our part of society or our part in God’s plan to bring the whole world back to Him. We each have a part to play and we need to trust HIM to get us through.

What about Ebola?
We are more likely to get it here in the US than we would in Congo or Uganda. Congo had an outbreak separate from the one in Western Africa and handled it well. It was contained and now Congo is officially Ebola free again. We will live aware, but not in fear.

Isn’t there a lot of instability in Congo?
Yes. We would be lying if we tried to say that Congo has been peaceful. But in our minds, that just makes the field more ripe for harvest. People are broken and looking for peace and hope. Neither of those things are likely to come from the political situation in Congo anytime soon, but Jesus can bring both. We don’t want to rush into danger, but we do want to bring the Word of God to a nation that is hurting. We are trusting Him with our safety.

What do you “DO?” What does "work" look like?
Scott disciples and trains pastors. Daily stuff includes working on curriculum and stories to teach the pastors, calling or meeting with the ones he is discipling, challenging them in their walk, encouraging them, and praying for them. Some of the time it is actually hosting or attending a training where he teaches or supervises some of the trainers doing the training.
Meg mostly takes care of the kids, tries to stay connected with family, friends and supporters in the states, and build relationships with African friends she sees regularly. She hopes to have a small group of university ladies to do bible study with regularly.

What are you doing while you are back? Are you just sitting around waiting for God to provide?
When we first got back, Scott did still help with some of the curriculum writing. We attended about a month of training and debriefing and the rest of the time has been fundraising. Oh yeah, we had a baby. :) Fundraising is part faith and waiting for God to provide, and part doing everything we can. So what do we “do?” We meet with people to share our ministry vision for Congo and our financial goals to return to Africa. (Want to meet with us? Send us an email!)We share with small groups and churches. Between these we write thank you notes, newsletters, ect. When time allows we work on language learning and other things to get us ready to go. So in case you think we just sit on the couch and watch football, that only happens when the Eagles are on, which is not so often any more!

Why don’t you just go on short trips to train and come back to live in the states?

We saw that, over our two years in Africa, people who drop in and do a program and leave can be really great. We saw some good ministry done. But some people need to stay. By staying we get to know the people better. We learn the culture and customs that make them who they are. And this helps the teachings and trainings be much more relevant and effective. By staying we also get a chance to evaluate our trainings. We can see what works and what doesn’t. We get a chance to follow up and hold the pastors accountable to what they have learned. There are so many benefits from staying, we are thankful that we can stay.

Why do you need so much money to live in Africa? Shouldn’t it cost less? I don’t even make as much as you raise per month.
Our budget does seem overwhelming at times. And no, it doesn’t go into our bank account so we can be rich. And no, it doesn’t go to some CEO of World Gospel Mission so that he can get rich. Think of it this way, the funds we raise cover all our family expenses and business expenses. Ministry is not a business in the normal sense,  but it still costs money to do.
Here is a breakdown as they write it in our budget.

Monthly: salary, social security, life insurance, pension, medical insurance, taxes, children’s schooling, headquarters support, housing, Uganda taxes, prayer letters and printing, work travel, visas (for Congo).
One-time cash need: airline tickets to and from Africa, funds to relocate a family to Africa and back, Legal fees and papers to enter country and get work permits, furnishings (refrigerator, stove ect.) Stateside trainings, equipment needed for ministry, and a vehicle.

And yes, some things cost less in Africa. A two pound bag of rice is less than a dollar and bananas often cost less than a dollar for a whole hand of bananas. But then other things cost more than here. Gas is currently (even with the low prices here in the US) $4.81 per gallon. If we want to buy cereal we can get a small box of very cheap tasting cereal for $4 and a larger box of a name brand is around $10. So yes, it costs less to live in some ways, but in other ways it costs more.

Won’t your boys miss out on an American life?
Yes they will. But for all the things they will miss out on, they will get a lot of other wonderful opportunities. Our boys will grow up knowing what it feels like to be a minority. They will get to see things through others' eyes. Their friends will look different than them. They will get to experience other cultures. They will learn other languages. They will miss out on some things, but we are trusting Jesus to fill any holes with His grace and wisdom.

What do you do for “fun” in Africa? Isn’t it really boring?
We enjoy time with people. Where we live there isn’t a movie theater or a bowling ally. There isn’t anywhere to go snowboarding or rollerskating. There is no zoo or amusement park or arcade. But there are people who became our friends, and where there are friends there is fun. We get together for meals and sometimes board games. We share a soda and a story. And at birthdays we get together to celebrate. So not the same, but we still have fun.

How do you do it? I could never do what you do!
Sure you could! We don’t do it in our strength. Jesus is bigger and stronger than we are  and He carries us. If He calls you, He will provide for you; He will walk with you and He will strengthen you. He doesn’t make it easy, but He is with you through it all. All He asks of us, is to listen and obey.

Why in the world do you go?
We go because there are pastors who WANT to share God’s word with their neighbors. There are hearts who are looking for hope and joy among the brokenness of war and rebel activity.

Romans 10:13-15 says it well. “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

We are so thankful to be able to train pastors and leaders to be the ones who preach the good news.

What Else?! 
What other questions have you had in your mind, but not asked? We are not afraid of questions. Ask away! 


Sarah Denley said...

I loved this post! I knew some of it from our conversations in the past, but it was so interesting to read. Thanks for sharing!

Susanna Morrison Cummings said...

Great answers to definitely commonly asked questions! Thanks for sharing your heart and love for what you do & the people you serve! Praying for you guys!!

Shirley Hawthorne said...

Thanks for showing a wonderful glimpse of your life in Africa. Seeing your connection and witness to the people helps us understand and admire your dedication and feel the love in your hearts for all God's people. Best wishes.