For you are not being sent to a people of unintelligible speech or difficult language, but to the house of Israel, nor to many peoples of unintelligible speech or difficult language, whose words you cannot understand. But I have sent you to them who should listen to you; yet the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, since they are not willing to listen to Me. Surely the whole house of Israel is stubborn and obstinate. – Ezekiel 3:5-7
In 2009, Cindy and I went to live in Africa. For 21 years prior to that move, we served the Lord in the US … primarily in pastoral leadership of a local church. Often after that overseas move I was asked about the sacrifices we made to be there. Generally speaking, my response was always this, “It’s just geography.”
Faithfulness is not marked by a place on a map. We were not more faithful because we went overseas. We were simply “following the Leader.” There were many “soldiers” of the church who remained in “Babylon” and steadfastly continued to preach God’s truth (in season and out) back home. While the “West” may have its creature comforts, it isn’t necessarily easier to serve there than anywhere else. There were quite a few moments in my pastoral ministry when I cried out to God, “Here I am … would you please SEND ME!?”
While it is true there are some unique difficulties that accompany overseas service, local church ministry … wherever it is … has its moments, as well. Be sure to thank your pastor for all he does to serve you and the flock of God under his care.
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. – Hebrews 13:17
Dr. David Pope is President and Founder of POPE Initiatives, a non-profit organization committed to providing executive-level management and support services for major global mission efforts.
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