“And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples,
they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls
of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying,
‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.’”
This being said after Paul had been stoned, being left for dead. The disciples gathered around him, he rose, and, together, they continued to share the gospel. When Paul was lying there, almost dead, he did not give up. His brothers in Christ did not leave him, but they rose up together and continued to do the work ordained by God.
I am five months into my internship here in Jérémie, Haïti. Five months isn’t considered a long time to be on the mission field, but a lot can certainly happen within five months, especially when you’re following Jesus and walking in God’s will for your life.
So far, I have gone through various trials from a natural disaster to missing important milestones in the lives of my loved ones. Four days into my internship, a hurricane changed its course to come right over Jérémie. Power was completely gone, all communication was cut off, many of my belongings destroyed. In December, I got news that my uncle had gotten emergency heart surgery. In January, a politician was arrested and the anger of his followers was taken out on any american in sight. The orphanage, in which I was living at the time, was broken into and many of my belongings were taken. Because of the risk in town, our team chose to evacuate until the demonstrations calmed down. Three weeks ago, I found out my dad needed the same emergency bypass surgery that his brother had received weeks before. Not flying home to be with my dad through his surgery or his recovery process has been wearing on me. Most recently, missing the birth of my sister’s third child. I was with her in the delivery room for her first two children, so I am currently wrestling with guilt and heartbreak knowing that I will miss the birth of this third child, who I won’t get to meet until he/she is 4 months old.
This is not a “woe is me” post or a cry for attention and pity. This is to give thanks to God for being my rock and my refuge (Psalms 62:6-8) through the challenges because without His strength I would have given up; I would have failed. There have been so many blessings within the trials and due to the tribulations that far exceed the amount of difficulties, challenges, and thorns. Because of His grace, His goodness, and His perfect, sovereign ways, I have been joyfully pressing deeper into God’s plans for this country.
Picking up your cross and following Jesus is not an easy choice; it comes with a target on your back where Satan can aim his fiery darts. But God allows those trials and tribulations to happen because that’s where the growth comes from. James 1:2-4 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete lacking nothing.”
I can look back and be discouraged by all the circumstances of the past five months and call it quits or I can look ahead and rejoice in all that the Lord has gotten me through this far. Daily, I choose the latter. Daily, I make a decision to see the victory, to see the fruit, to see that God has called me here with purpose. I have been called to the mission field and each day I set my confidence in Christ knowing that He will be my strength through any and all circumstances. And in those days I feel tired, weighed down, and beaten, those are the days that I know my God and my team will come around me, raise me up, and we can continue to make disciples and preach the gospel.
Throughout the past five months and having the understanding of Acts 14:20, I have learned how important it is to have community. I am grateful to have had a team here before I arrived, to come into the comfort of a family in my time of adjusting to the cultural differences and navigating through the difficult decisions of counting the cost. Five months in and, as expected, I miss my family and friends and the comforts of the states, but I wouldn’t trade the experiences I have had growing closer to my heavenly Father, learning how to die to my flesh and learning what it truly means to fully surrender to His ways, and creating everlasting relationships with my team and the disciples God has appointed to me.
I have less than four months left of my internship and I have no idea what the next season of my life looks like, but I do know that, with confidence, where He calls, I will go and I will make disciples and share the gospel as He has called us to do and He will make a way. “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world,” John 16:33.