“Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges[b]; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.”
Meekness – strength under control. Jesus was described as meek, an intriguing contrast to what mainstream leadership portrays. Often we default to the outspoken or confident approach when we picture strength. I think there’s a strong argument for those who have a calm confidence and a deep sense of identity, especially if that identity is rooted in the Lord. Often the meek and their thoughtful actions are left in the shadows, ignored or even unnoticed, but I’m learning that is probably their preference.
Serving as interim leader for our missionary field here in Bolivia, I have the privilege to witness many of my colleagues who ‘operate in the shadows’ here away from their families and the communities where they call home. When I first began as a missionary, everything was new and different. Being single, there was more than enough time to document, write and share online about all the ministry that was happening and the growth that God was masterfully orchestrating in and through my life. Now, my role is different, I get to encourage, shepherd and brag about those who have followed the call to live out Christ’s example of meekness here in Bolivia.
On the surface, it might seem that said ministry and growth have slowed down if you go by what I’ve been able to post on social media or write about on this blog. From where I sit, reality would look a lot more like the opposite of that assumption. It’s an interesting conundrum as a missionary. The more experienced you get, the more opportunities God opens up for you as you walk in obedience, but truthfully this translates into a lot less time to share about it all. I deeply appreciate all of you who have still continued to support the ministry faithfully through your prayers and finances – it is not lost on me the reduced frequency to which I have been update and write. All the more do I grow in appreciation of our Good Father and His people who sacrificially support our family as we daily seek to serve Him here in Bolivia. Sinceramente, Gracias.
Speaking of those who serve sacrificially without much acclaim and in light of most of the world outside of Bolivia celebrating a certain holiday this past weekend, I have to acknowledge strong women. As I witness my wife tirelessly care for and love our new born daughter, I am floored by the magnitude of what mothers are called to when nurturing and cultivating a young child. I have often said, when given the spotlight, that any great ideas that I may share, likely have come from a strong and godly woman in my life. It’s not just lip service, it’s the plain truth as I know how limited my male brain is!
Five days after my daughter Victoria was born, we have been slammed as a family in terms of responsibility and ministry. Much of it was out of our control, but we deeply knew that it once again was God placing us in a situation that was far beyond our capability, so that His power would be on display. We recently just passed the 2 month mark of life for our new born child and in those short 60 days, we’ve had to organize, lead and host a 2-week youth missions team, receive, orient and process immigration for 8 new missionaries, preach at a youth rally, lead weekly field prayer gatherings, coach a JV boys basketball team to the championship game, conduct a random drug search, serve as Board president for our international Christian School, and somehow learn how to navigate our field through unforeseen corruption and imprisonment.
Did I mention that we have a new born baby and are trying to delicately balance the attention she needs with the needs of Mateo, who also just celebrated his 14th birthday on which he received noticed that his name change had hit some unexpected obstacles back in Canada? Don’t get me wrong, I have handled the last 60 days at times in a manner that has been less than desirable in my opinion. With all the pain, hurt and corruption that ministry here in Bolivia comes with, there were moments of difficult learning on how to balance it all with my family life. There was one day that I’m ashamed to say, I saw my 3 week-old daughter for a total of six minutes! You can only imagine what that type of burden and responsibility does to your family life and marriage. I thank you for all those who have been praying over God’s protection for our family and those who have taken a personal interest in caring for us as we do our best to learn and serve in this new life stage.
There were moments where I felt sick and stuck. It felt like from every angle the enemy has been trying to distract or discourage me. Trust me, you couldn’t pay me enough to take the job I have now if it wasn’t where I know God has placed and called me for this season. Tons of thoughts have passed through my mind, “since the New Year, our support has dropped $500/month and I’m about to receive a baby into this world??? There’s no time to write home, God what is your plan in all of this??? I need to be strong as a leader, but I never desired for my family to suffer as I struggle to learn to balance it all.” Right there is where I was reminded of God, His sovereignty and the meekness of Christ. To sit quietly in His presence and rest in Him because He has all that is out of control for me….under control. He has been more than enough, but has shown me that personal change also needed to take place.
I might sound crazy, but serving in the context that God has led me to at this point in my life is actually a gift. To be continually stretched beyond my capabilities, but see God provide in extraordinary ways is humbling and inspiring at the same time. Who would of thought that the team we hosted right after Victoria’s birth would be able to bring down all the gifts you all graciously showered upon our child and family? Do I dream of comfort and stability that I often ‘see’ on social media, of course, I’m human, but with that I say thank you. Thank you for giving my family and I the opportunity to experience and share God in this way. Thank you for being the community that faithfully walks alongside us as God shows His power and glory through the weaknesses and limitations that we have as humans in a way that is completely counter-cultural.
When I told people that we saved up money & our travel points to fly my mother in-law to Bolivia to live with us for three months, I got a lot of crazy looks. Not a word of a lie, it was one of the best prayerful decisions I think we could have made (despite the awkward naked moments that come when you live together for 3 months!) Family is so important during those times of transition and bringing a newborn into the mix is one of those game-changing moments in a family’s life. As missionaries, we leave our comforts, friends and family back home and that means little support when things like a new-life are thrown into the mix.
I mentioned Mateo turned 14 earlier this month, well back when he was a baby, Margarita was a single mother who was in medical school, writing her exams with bloody bandages 5 days after her C-section. Do you know who was there serving in the shadows to support baby Teo and my wife? My mother-in-law. In a culture where infidelity and brokenness has marred the original design of family that God has created, it is also the perfect setting for God’s intent through family to be a statement. People may wonder how we were able to be sustained and serve in so many ways over that last 60 days, while still caring for a new born – let me be the first to tell you it was an example of the Lord’s work through the gift and purposes of family.
Señora Oliva, was a gift from God as she joyfully served, cooked, cleaned, sang songs and filled our home with laughter for 3 months. She patiently waited for the baby to come and was an incredible emotional and spiritual encouragement to Margarita as the hurts of the past came flooding back with the pregnancy and birthing process. God not only allowed us to be a part of ministry because of family, He did ministry in our own lives. Healing took place as we witnessed and walked together, despite our mistakes, as a family unit bonded by the love and example of Christ. There in the dark shadows of our very own brokenness, Christ’s blood was and is doing its redemptive work.
The life and possible purposes of God for a single missionary versus that of a family unit look and are quite different. I am slowly learning and seeing that it’s not better or worse, but rather profound and purposeful in a new way. Family is teaching me a deeper understanding of Christ’s meekness and I know full well it is broadening my ‘tool box’ as a child of God and missionary here in Bolivia.