Today we are remembering a student missionary named Kirsten Wolcott who lost her life on this date four years ago while serving in Yap, Micronesia. Most of you are probably familiar with her story. It is not an easy story to bring up to missionaries, potential missionaries, or their families. When we are serving Jesus, we want to believe that our safety is guaranteed. We know there could be some dangers and challenges, but God will place His hedge of angels around us and fix everything, right? When we are faced with such stories, or go through some tough times in our own mission experience, we often find ourselves facing a crisis of faith. We are spending our lives serving God. Why doesn’t God hold up His end of the deal? Why does my mission site seem to have so many issues? Why does everything at home seem to be falling apart while I’m away? Why does it seem like we’re surrounded with physical, spiritual, emotional storms on every side sometimes?
Before I lose some of you because this is a pretty heavy topic, let me just say that if all is going great at your mission location right now and you haven’t asked any of these questions so far, then praise the Lord! But go ahead and listen in for future reference, because chances are good that you’ll be running into some kind of storm sooner or later. Why? Because the mission-field—wherever that may be—is inevitably a battlefield.
I listened to a sermon once during one of my storms as a volunteer a few years ago. The speaker, Francis Chan, used this analogy: At a basketball game, who does the opposing team want to double-team: the guy on the bench, or the guy making points? Can you imagine a soldier on a battlefield running up to his commander in surprise: “They’re shooting at me!” The commander would say, “What did you expect when you joined the army?”
Peter wanted to make sure this was clear to his friends suffering persecution. “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.” (1 Peter 4:12-13, NLT)
If life seems to have gotten more difficult or complicated since you began this mission adventure, take heart. It likely means you (with God’s power) are causing some serious damage on the enemy’s territory, and he doesn’t like it very much. But always remember Who is with you in this battle. If anyone knows the pain of this war, it’s Jesus. He will not forget you, and your tears are never wasted. You can also be sure that your side will win in the end. The promise of 1 Peter 4:13 is that Jesus’ glory will be revealed—and you will see it.
Hang in there, soldiers. Jesus is with you, and we are praying for you out on the front lines.
*Twice a month, we send out a short devotional to our volunteers, for some extra inspiration and encouragement. This was the devotional for November 18, 2013.