Dearest prayer warriors,
We feel like failures. Tomorrow we celebrate our one year village-side anniversary. What, pray tell, have we accomplished in a year?
1. Not dying
Seriously! This is not a joke. Staying alive is a big deal, and it is not easy here. Living in the village has exposed us to enough death to last a lifetime. Women walk the streets carrying and wailing over their lifeless babies for days; young rickshaw pullers living off of a handful of rice a day fear going to sleep at night because they’ve seen so many of their friends lie down to rest and never rise again. The emotional stress on some is so enormous that they have heart attacks and die just from hearing thunder! If this wasn’t enough, there’s the work & travel related accidents that claim hundreds of lives each week because safety isn’t emphasized or enforced here. Beyond this, the newspaper is bursting with stories of mothers murdering their children, husbands murdering their wives, children murdering their parents; and it’s over things like smartphones, dowries, or school tuition – material concerns.
Nevertheless, we live, and that’s no laughing matter.
2. Making a disciple
Yep. Just one. No, we didn’t lead him to Christ. No, we didn’t baptize him. No, we haven’t taught him to obey all that Christ commanded. He knew all that before we met him. So, why claim to have “made a disciple”? Because disciple making is just as much about journeying through sanctification as it is about leading one to Christ for justification. Is a gardener only she who tends to plants she’s personally grown from seeds? No. We’re making a disciple by maintaining his discipleship and it’s hard work. He arrives at 8am in the morning and leaves between 8 and 10pm at night everynight. He sees us laugh, cry, fight, forgive, struggle, and succeed. He sits at our table for every meal. He knows exactly how much money we make, save, spend, give, and waste. He knows our flaws, our secrets, our strengths, our fears, and our joys. As we are Christian, so shall he be Christian (hence the importance for contextualization). This sacrifice of privacy is the most terrifying gift of Christ to us, but it’s undeniably the most helpful in conforming us to him.
3. Still struggling to learn the language
Learning a language is hard, but I never imagined it would be this hard; especially since I’ve got that magical element of immersion. I hear Bangla all day everyday, but I still talk (& comprehend) like a six year old, respectively. If you haven’t talked to a six year old recently, go find one and have a conversation. You’ll quickly learn that speaking and conversing are very different. Like a six year old, my problem is comprehending what’s being said in regards to how it applies to the conversation. For instance, I’ll mention that it looks like it might rain and the guy across from me says: “Yeah. My uncle was buried last week.”
This doesn’t make sense until you learn that it’s quite common in the village for dead bodies to wash out of new graves during heavy rain because of flooding. The man’s reply reflects what the upcoming storm means to him – what he might have to deal with – and could’ve inspired a great conversation about Christ if I hadn’t been silenced by my utter confusion.
And that’s it. Not dying, making a disciple, and maintaining a continued struggle with learning this language – that’s all we’ve got after living in our village for an entire year and it makes us feel like failures.
Is this feeling from God? Absolutely not. How do I know? Because it centers on us!
It completely ignores the sovereignty of God over our lives by enthroning the shortsighted ambitions that seem right and good to us.
The weeping prophet, Jeremiah, proclaimed the most amazing message (31:27-34) that the people of Judah ignored for all of Jeremiah’s forty years of ministry. Was this why he wept? Nope. In 9:1, Jeremiah says:
Jeremiah wept for his people who had been slain for their persistent rebellion against God. He wept over their failure to repent. He wept for Judah, not for himself. God had chosen him and enabled him to prophesy so he only spoke as God spoke through him. For Jeremiah to think, “I’m a failure” would be like him thinking “God’s a failure” since he was merely God’s messenger.
Is God a failure? No. Am I ever tempted to think that God has failed me?
And whenever this happens I can be assured that I’ve departed from faithfully walking with Him.
Put it together. If we feel like failures – like we’ve failed to do what God has chosen and enabled us to do – what does that say about God?
It says that we feel like God has failed us.
Are we aware of how stupid this is? Certainly. Is it obvious to us that we’re the ones who have failed God? Absolutely. Are we confused about feeling like we’ve failed God in doing what God promised to do through us?
Through this week, please pray
- For our personal quite times: that we’d be consistent and determined to meet with God daily.
- For our disciple (Jell): that we’d do more to challenge him to grow and make a disciple of his own.
- For our language learning: that we’d commit to spending at least two hours a day learning new vocabulary.
- For these updates: that I’d be more consistent in providing y’all with the information you need to intercede for us and thereby plant new churches with us for God’s glory.
I’ve got no resolution for you. This is how it ends. This is how we’re feeling right now, despite how this feeling completely ignores the sovereignty of God over our lives. We need your prayers and please leave us your comments. Any encouragement and wisdom that you can spare would be greatly appreciated.