"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am , there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him."
- Jesus (John 12:24)
Have you ever really tasted this verse? I am not asking if you have ever agreed with this verse, but I am asking have ever really experienced it?
If you have ever been rejected simply because you are a Christian you have felt this verse to some degree. If you have ever been abandoned by family members or other loved ones because you profess Christ, you have tasted it more. Some have even so tasted this verse (and modeled themselves after Christ so much) that they have literally been slaughtered in order to honor God and not refuse Him.
Being a missionary is, in short, accepting a call to embrace this verse and taste this verse in a deeper way. It is a call to die. It is a call to live by dying.
Jesus promised missionaries that, "you will be hated wherever you go." (Matt. 10:22, 24:9) and that we would have need for endurance. He didn't promise that we would be loved and accepted by men. Peter, through the Holy Spirit said, "do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you." - 1 Peter 4:12
But God does promise that these dying ones are the only ones who will not be alone. Though separated from comforts and friends and family, these will not remain alone.
With this thought and these feelings in mind, I was actually very encouraged to hear of a fellow passionate missionary express his own struggles. In some small way they encouraged me that I am not the only one who is spending his time "dying". There is a life to come that all true Christians live for today!
My friend writes:
"I cannot deny the fact that there is a part of me that longs to be here (home in the states). The fellowship and safe net community is so wonderful. There is so much provided here spiritually. How safe I feel when I am here. JAPAN is nothing like this! I love and hate Japan. The spiritual darkness is ever present and is like a 1000 lbs placed upon my chest. It is hard to accomplish much with this weight on anyone. Yet, my hope remains in the Lord. He is the One that saves.
However, I must be honest, I do not always believe He will save or can change hearts in Japan. The numbers seem to great and the massive acceptance and tolerance of immorality seems as an unstoppable/out-of-control wild fire. Yet, who is the One who parts the seas and made water come from rocks? Yes, our GOD!
Oh, how I long for the joy of the Lord to be my strength everyday. But some days are hard. Oh how I long for spiritual food and encouragement from others. But those times there seem like the chances of finding a precious jewel. Yet, the Lord is ever present and my refuge and my salvation. For whom shall I fear? Yes, I know these facts, but it does not change how ones environment can effect you. If you leave a piece of bread on the counter top it will over time dry out and get hard, crusty or moldy. But, if you place it in the right environment, it will last longer."
He finishes with this statement, to which I would whole-heartedly agree: "There is NO doubt that I have been called to Japan! I love the people and the place. May the Lord go before me and change hearts there."