Persevering in hope
Posted on: 15th February 2023
CMS missionary M works in a part of Africa where most people have never met someone who knows Jesus, and many are hostile to his message. Here she gives a picture of how she attempts to speak of God’s grace.
In the north of this great continent there are very few people who follow Jesus. Islam dominates the lives of North Africans, and most will never meet a Christian. Missionaries are desperate for people to know Jesus, but we are hampered in our efforts by hostile leaders and unreceptive hearts. This is often discouraging, but we know that it’s God who changes hearts and so we share the best we can and pray for God to be gracious to save these lost men and women.
I recently began working with an NGO in a small town, supporting children and families with disabilities. Most days I’m in the classroom, supporting a teacher of children with autism and low cognitive abilities. I also have the privilege of going to villages to teach basic public health information to groups of women.
Introducing gospel hope
As I work alongside locals in the classroom and in villages, I try in whatever way I can to introduce our gospel hope and joy into conversations.
Whether it’s hearing about huge emotional burdens, and sharing the words of Jesus, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) Or talking about singleness: “I’m so thankful that I can always talk to God, so I’m never alone.” Or when our car got stuck in a village, I prayed and we managed to get out: “Isn’t it amazing the way God cares about and helps us in the little things as well as the big!”
I ask questions to try and draw out discussions about the faith of my colleagues. We talk a little about their children and their work, but it’s hard to go deep. To be honest, most of the time I feel like I fail at my attempts to enter into conversations about Jesus.
CMS work is long-term
My language teacher was an exception. She and I had many long and deep conversations about faith. Part of the reason I went deeper with my language teacher was because of the sheer number of hours we spent together in the classroom. As there was time for trust to develop, she was willing to be vulnerable with me. I haven’t yet had that time with the women in my new town. I can plant seeds and ask for God to grow interest and questions in them, but I can’t force the conversations.
For most people, it takes time to be ready to talk deeply, and this is one of the reasons CMS is so committed to sending workers long-term.
That’s certainly been the experience of my missionary colleague (from another company and country). After ten years working in our centre for children with disabilities, people now sometimes initiate conversations with her about faith! Praise God that after many years of loving and serving here, people have grown to trust her and want to learn from her.
No one has yet turned to Christ, but we persevere in the work that he has set before us and try to continually plant seeds, praying that he will give the growth.
For gospel workers like M, perseverance and trust in God are vital to speaking of his grace in their daily lives. Consider practical ways by which you can encourage workers like her to keep seeking opportunities. Learn more about caring for missionaries here.