We are not green global workers. It is not that we are wise or wonderful, but we are not uninitiated. Our ‘First Term’ is well under our belt and behind us—or so we thought.
Every global worker has stories of the ‘First Term.’ The stories are full of pain, persecution, and obstacles everywhere they turned. Nevertheless, they are also full of the abundant grace and mercy of the Lord, of His comfort and deliverance, of His hope and determination. When I see others wading through their ‘First Term,’ my heart breaks in empathy. I can offer understanding, advice, and hope, but I cannot save them from their agony—and it is an agony, because I have witnessed over and over again Satan’s plan of battle.
In each life, Satan picks the weakest point, the one thing that might work to send global workers home, and then he strikes over and over again. For some, this is medical crises or even little medical issues—but always over and over again. For others, it is car accidents or car problems. For others, it is problems with housing and creating a comfortable home. It can also be relationships, either with nationals or with other global workers.
Most of us come to the conclusion in our ‘First Term’ that God brought us to the field not to save the world, but to save us—to change us and grow us. He is truly getting us ready for the work He has for us. One of our organization’s leaders said, “If you finish your ‘First Term,’ go on furlough, and return to the field, you had a successful ‘First Term.’” I agree wholeheartedly with that statement!
After ten and a half years in Malawi (Africa), we transferred to Tanzania. We had to learn our third language. We had to learn to deal with a different arm of our organization. At the same time, we put two of our three children in boarding school. It was our third major move; though nothing had ever broken in a move before, this one broke nearly every major appliance and a lot of little stuff.
We have been in Tanzania for a year now and it has been one thing after another—mostly small things, but this has created a great deal more work and stress. The problems are different from our ‘First Term,’ but it is obvious to see the work of Satan as he tries to defeat us. We have dubbed this our ‘Second First Term.’
What Satan does not know is that we are already victorious! His acts are pitiful now because we have many more tools for coping than we had the first time around. God made sure that the way in which He called us to move would never allow us to doubt that this is His will. Our determination is stronger than ever before. Even in our ‘First Term,’ without the knowledge we have today, Satan was defeated before he even started. God is the Victor, and God fights our battles for us—if we will let Him.
How do you make it through that ‘First Term’? By never forgetting The Call. Go back to it every single day. At our lowest points, my husband would ask me, “Has your Call changed?” I would always have to answer, “No”—though I would sometimes stamp my foot as I was saying it!
Lean on The Call and lean on the Lord. Let Him fight your battles. Find contentment in the words of King David, who always praised God in the midst of pain:
Lord, You have assigned me my portion and my cup; You have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure… You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand (Psalm 16:5-9, 11, NIV).
And the last bit of wisdom I can impart? Walk forward slowly. When you run, you trip and fall, or sometimes slam into a wall. When you walk slowly, your steps are sure. You can see what is in front of you. You can hear the voices of wisdom from those whom God places around you, and most importantly, you can hear Him.