Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Don't Worry

By: Rachel Martin

Our whole family was sick a few months back.  I mean really sick.  First my son, then my husband, then me, before doing it all over again with my son and husband getting either the same thing or something new.  It has been suggested that the H1N1 might have been going around our community and that might be what we had.  Whatever it was we got let’s just say it was awful and it hung on something fierce.  When my son first got hit with it I took him to our local free clinic run by an amazing US doctor here as a missionary.  We didn't have an appointment and yet she fit us in for a quick evaluation.  She is amazing, super smart and said what I thought she would.  Put him on the nebulizer, lots of rest, and fluids.  She, unlike most of the Mexican doctors, is hesitant to prescribe antibiotics, which I actuary like.  We have all had really bad reactions to antibiotics so we tend to shy away from them .

I tell you all this because I don’t’ want you to think I am putting my son in danger when I say that I did nothing for his flu.  Or for my husband or myself. Well we did things like, take vitamins, nebulizer treatments, essential oils, drank lots of teas, water, and juice.  Used over the counter meds to take down fevers and ease coughs.  We took warm showers and slept a lot and fed our son whatever he would eat. Just the usual things one does when sick and in general that is basically all we do.

We got some suggestions from others that we should take our son again to another doctor or self-prescribe antibiotics.  Something you can easily do here in Mexico.  We thanked the very kind folks suggesting that and did what we felt was right.  It got me thinking about how everything we do is tainted by our faith.  We knew our son would be fine because we were smart about it and took the precautions even getting a doctor to back up what we were doing.  We prayed and felt we were doing what was right.  Yet still others put their faith in the doctor themselves.  Don’t get me wrong I am a fan of my doctor.  She is amazing and I could never replace her in a million years as a friend or a doctor.  But even she would say that she is only human and there is a higher power in charge.

I think people take our casual air about sickness to mean we are either stupid or not doing what is best for our son.  Or they lump us in with the people who never take their kids to the doctor no matter how sick they are and claim that God will heal them.  For sure He can but He also gave us medicine and doctors let’s not ignore common grace here. What they don’t know, could not possibly fathom outside of knowing Christ is that God has this too under his control.  That there is a peace in knowing that God is in control of the world and your little corner matters just as much as everyone else’s. 

What many are missing is that you can’t control anything.  That control is just false hope in yourself.  Yes protect yourself and your children, yes take them to the doctor, yes make them wear a life jacket, ect.  In the end however if we pray about it, listen to the answers (if any), make the decision we feel best, and the worst happens.  It was supposed to happen.  That has never been clearer in my life as when I moved here.  My son as a toddler came inches from getting bit by a rattle snake, I exploded our oven while standing right in front of it without one single singe, my husband talks to crazy desperate people all the time and has never been hurt by one.  Life is risk and hard and I hate getting sick and watching the others I love suffer. I am not saying I like it when hard stuff happens or my son gets so sick he is throwing up all over me.  My point is just that God is in control and whatever He wants is going to happen. No use worrying about it.  If you can't trust God of the universe that knows who you are and what you are going though and listens to your petitions and knows the amount of hairs on your head.  Who can you trust?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Sometimes it is Easy!

By: Rachel Martin

My husband and I recently met a young couple hoping to go do missions in a closed country.  They will do this by (like many missionaries to closed countries) teaching English as a second language.  Basically doing something that the people of the country themselves cannot do.  As I listened to their story of how God worked in their life to prep them for the county that honestly I would be terrified to go to, I was struck by a thought.  When God asks you to go her preps you.  I don’t know (although I am sure there are some) any missionaries that go kicking and screaming into the missions field.  They all go with some trepidation but excited and unafraid to go where God has asked them to go. 

As I listened to their story it made total sense that these young folks were going to this country.  God had brought them into close contact with many people from this country working and studying in the US.  They feel in love with the people and culture and figured out how to approach people of that culture with the gospel.  They are excited and ready and looking forward to going to this country.  As Dan and I were when we came to Mexico.  Unafraid and ready.  I think too, if you think about it, there are things that God has called you to do that don’t make you nervous either.  

While God may not be calling you to go to say a closed country or even another country I imagine if you think about it there are places and setting where you are comfortable where you can be used by God.  Are you in a work environment?  Do you know that business lingo and so can talk to people in a casual manner about business things and work the gospel or at the very least let people know your beliefs.  Are you at home raising children?  I imagine that you re unafraid of your kids and can openly talk about Jesus and his love and it does not scare you.  Are you retired and have time on your hands and a love of something like fashion, volunteer at the local 4-h sewing class.  Or art, go to the local art institute and hang out and get to know people and share.  Or sports, join a local basketball group at the YMCA and go about it that way.  Whatever it is it does not always have to be hard or out of your element.

I think that others think we foreign country missionaries are called to this hard horrible life and so we must be some kind of spiritual superman.  The truth (at least for me and many other I know) is that we love what we do.  We love our chosen countries, we love being here and are mostly comfortable.  Yes things can be hard and living in a different culture can be hard at times but it is something we are happy to do.  My point is that God has prepared you for something too.  It may not be going to a closed country like the young couple that we recently met but it is something.  Something God has put on your heart and something that you more than likely are ready and comfortable doing.  Find what you love, do it for God, share the gospel.  We talk about sharing the gospel all the time and forcing yourself to do it.  How about putting yourself in a space you love and are comfortable in and allow yourself to be bold and love doing it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Short Term Missions #2

By: Rachel and Daniel Martin

When I was writing my last blog I wrote this line.  Should not short term missions be about the gospel?  The answer is of course yes, but the question is why?  Also, should we not be giving to the people we go to?  We have a saying here among myself and some missionary friends that may sound shocking and awful.  “We can feed, clothe, and heal people all we want.  In the end if we don’t share the gospel they are still going to hell.”

Don’t get me wrong; giving is great!  We should be using our wealth to help others.  We should be giving our things and time and what we have to help others.  The people here need the resources we can offer.  We make support bags for the homeless. It is sad to say that every time we go to the bigger cities we find endless people to give them too.  I recently heard that the teachers in a very prestigious school earned $700 a month!  That is just crazy. That is the financial upper end here in Mexico.  So yes bring your stuff,  your food, and your money.  Please!  Bring it here and help the economy of your neighbors to the South. You might be giving them their first safe and healthy night sleep in a long time.

Let us not forget however that we can spend, give, and help but in the end people who haven't given their heart to Jesus are still going to hell.  I also said in my last blog that short term missions are by nature about stepping out in faith. I don't understand why I see so many people that don’t share the gospel when going on these trips?  I see Christians from the states in our town's little open air market almost constantly during the summer. They are coming here on a mission’s trip to go and be the arms and legs of Christ to our community.  I smile, say hello, wait for them to engage and they seldom do!  Often they don’t return any kind of greeting. I am a friendly person, I speak English and am giving you an opportunity.  I don't know why its never taken ?  Is it like in my last blog I suggested I am not the right color or social economic class?  Are they scared?  Because Romans 1:16 knock both of those out of the running by telling us that we should not be ashamed of the gospel and that it is for both the Jew and the Greek. I really can’t figure it out.  Why someone would spend all that money and time to come here and not take the opportunity to share why they are here with the people around them.

Once again I think we need to take a step back and consider why we are going on a trip in the first place.  Is it to give to the people and serve them? Then by all means do that.  But lets not let the proclamation of the gospel be a part of the members only club. It's not for just the leadership on the trips. I don't understand, the state of heart people are in when only those in leadership speak to anyone outside of their group about the God or the scriptures at all. If you give your life to Jesus doesn't it involve your comfort too? If you are on a trip simply just to see God work so, that you can grow in your faith than that's valid too. Even so, in the scriptures, I have  never encountered a passage where God tells someone to give Him just enough of their lives and to keep all the uncomfortable parts for themselves, I also haven't seen God reward people for not being bold for Him.

What I am expecting is just a non-threatened return to my hello. What might God expect? My fear is that people are viewing what they are doing for God as a kind of penance, or, that they have been duped by the devil into believing that they are the only ones about the Fathers business and no one else is aloud in. I hope that it's not just so they can brag on social media. In all cases, good works are great. But even social and humanitarian groups are doing "good things" for the needy. What is different is the heart. As the Church we have to have the motive of proclaiming the goodness of Christ. If non- Christians are at least friendly to outsiders from there humanitarian groups; than shouldn't the church be above the "rock-star" personality and unite with the heart for the gospel?          

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Short Term Missions #1

By: Rachel Martin 

I am a missionary in a community with many missionaries living and working across many varied ministries in Baja Mexico.  I can’t even begin to tell you what a blessing that is.  These folks have giving and supporting down.  If we are in need of something they lend it if they are in need of something we do the same.  I adore being with fellow believers of the same mind and love being a part of the community.  One of the leaders of a ministry even hosts a weekly gathering for us all to visit and have fellowship.  We are truly blessed by the amazing, hardworking, giving, people around us.

Because of our location in Mexico and the many ministries here we have a lot of short term missions groups here.  This is a community where there is not a lot of want because there is so much help from both the community and the short term folks that come.  I have seen places with my own eyes so worse off than here it would make you cry.  I know it has made me do so.  The people that live here Mexican and missionary alike give and have a heart to serve and it is an amazing beautiful thing to see it in action.

I was a stranger to missions when I came here to serve full time.  I had never been on a short term trip other than on my own once.  I just assumed that the other people that would come to our area would have the same heart as the fellow missionaries and Mexican people I so love and adore here. I naively assumed that everyone that came on a mission’s trip would have a heart to serve. In general that is true.  However I have had a few experiences much to the contrary, which sort of surprised me.  For example I recently saw a group that came here, and by their actions lead me to believe they were here for the Mexican people only.  Like some sort of Members Only Club.

Now lest you think I am complaining I don’t care that people that come here don’t want to serve me.  I came to serve not to be served.  I know the others that have ministries and or work here feel the same way but when I see fellow missionaries used so constantly and never poured into I get frustrated.  What I am speaking to here is a particular frame of mind.  Are you coming to serve, encourage and share the gospel or are you coming to make a check mark in the “I hope I go to heaven for this” box.  Because if it is to serve, encourage, and share the gospel why have I seen more groups then I care to admit not doing that with the people on the front lines.  Why is it that when we go on missions trips we think that only the poor downtrodden are the ones we can serve?  Does the rich man not also deserve to hear the gospel?  Well I hear very little gospel at all to the unsaved but that is another blog for later.

In general our lives should be about the gospel but, isn’t that even more true when it comes to a missions trip?  I mean by it’s very nature are we not saying “I am going to go and take a step out for the Lord”?  Have you asked yourself when going on a trip; how can I serve the people I am going to see no matter what their standing, how can I serve the people in leadership, how can I serve the people I am going with, how can I spread the gospel and encourage both the people I am with and the people I go to see and the people along the way?

Short term mission’s a beautiful thing.  In general I love groups that come here.  I can’t say enough about the positive effects it has on the people here and the ministries.  When the groups come with a heart to serve that is.  I guess what I am suggesting here is a good long look at the heart before you personally and your group go on a mission’s trip.  Go with a heart for all men not just the people that live there.  When on the road at pit stops ask a stranger if they need help or know Jesus.  When at your destination don’t ask the leaders how you can serve them personally, just do it.  You can’t imagine how something simple like your team cleaning the host’s house will make their lives easier.  When you go to a strange church don’t bunch up in a clump sticking to your own.  Move around, ask people about the church as a way to find out about their faith and how you can encourage.  Don’t’ ignore the rich man in favor of the poor man.  Everyone and I mean everyone is in need of the gospel or encouragement.  I have never met a person that when I pried a little didn’t give me something that I could encourage them in.