As usual, "Preface Woman" that I am, this is actually a very long preamble to "WHAT" (as in what I am doing here in Prague!) which will come at the end of this posting. Then in my next postings I'll move on to WHO, WHEN, WHERE, and HOW... in some sort of coherent order :)
But for now, I had a few thoughts about "ministry" and WHAT the heck it is. :)
As I mentioned earlier, as far as "program" ministry, we only have a Monday night Bible study at this point. But that is not to say that we are not busy! :)
I remember a long time ago I spoke to a short-term missionary in Ukraine that said that she was just "so bored!" in Kyiv because there was no ministry to do! All of us misisonaries who were there were swamped! I knew right away that probably Kyiv wasn't the place she was called to. :) Why? Because she wasn't "good enough"? No way! But because when God has "called" you to a place....whether through circumstances beyond your control or those of your choosing based on what you perceive to be His leading...and whether that be your family, your classmates, your workmates, your neighbors or complete strangers and foreigners as we foreign missionaries experience....whatever the situation, when you are there you see needs all around you!
You see the student who seems to struggle just to get out of bed in the morning and you wonder what is going on at home...just as my dad saw some of his students during his years as a teacher. You see someone lying in their hospital bed without a single visitor, no family members, no church members, no co-workers, and you feel helpless and sad for this person...just as my mom saw many of her patients over the years. You see your co-workers function at work burdened down by the baggage at home. You see your neighbors wrestling to keep peace at home, or food on the table or....whatever. You see these things. You see people...and you feel something. Anger. Hurt. Pain. Loss. Frustration. Guilt. Responsibility. A desire to help.
***Side-tangent on feelings...
(Not all the feelings are good, not all are pleasant and not all are "right"...in my vocabulary that means factually lining up with the reality that I know to be true through the revelation revealed in Scripture. All feelings are "real" and are not to be denied. But not all feelings are true and therefore not to be necessarily followed or used as a basis for decision making. ) ***Back to our regularly scheduled programming. :)
In my opinion, when those feelings line up with the facts of Scripture and you do something...whether it be have compassion, pray, give a cup of cold water, baby-sit for someone, say a word kindly, go the extra mile...THAT is ministry. :) I absolutely LOVE that the word for ministry in Russian is taken from the root word of "to serve". So ministry is serving. :)
Serving up forgiveness instead of bitterness. Serving up grace and mercy instead of judgement and hate. Serving up generousity instead of stinginess and greed. Serving up patience instead of selfishness. These are the ministries I am interested in. These are the ministries I want to see in my life. And they are happening all around me. :) Many of my friends and acquaintences who have "day jobs" :) are involved in more ministry than those of us who have made the work of the Gospel our vocation. (I still say that parenting HAS to be the hardest ministry in the world!)
Yes, of course, there are unique callings and giftings....teaching the Bible, praying for people with the knowledge of God's heart and with the insight of the Holy Spirit, using the gifts of the Holy Spirit to encourage, heal, proclaim truth, correct, discern, etc...these are things usually unique to the Church, but definitely not necessarily exclusive to vocational ministers (such as myself).
"SO-o-o-o"...you are thinking "WHAT the heck are you doing? Wouldya' get on with it already, Cara?" :)
I am spending a LOT of time letting God do some pretty intense filing of rough edges off of me. :) These are coming about through a lot of prayer, fasting, worship, meditation on God's Word as well as human instruments in my life. It is all good. :) So this is ministry. Ministry to God.
I am spending a lot of time getting drinking tea, listening, talking and just getting to know the girls in our fellowship. :) And as I get to know them I see needs. Hurts. Lies from satan believed and the damage done in their lives. Lies of God's inability to heal, to protect, to defend. Lies of unworthiness to be loved. And God has blessed me to be able to pray with them, share TRUTH with them, see Him heal them. This is ministry.
I am spending a lot of time learning about my team and how God has made them. How can my gifts and skills bless them? Encourage them? Enable them to do what they have been called to do more fully? This takes time. Patience. Grace. Communication. They have given me all of these things. :) This is ministry. For all of us. And I think God is pleased. "Behold how good and pleasant it is when the brethren dwell together in unity". :)
As far as more conventional things...we had a "tea" with the girls recently. I think Martha would have been proud. See it all on our team blog at www.czechitoutprague.blogspot.com I just today taught a few English classes and when each class member went around the room to say about themselves...after the ladies had said about their jobs and families, my one male student said about his work then said "and I have no family anymore. My daughter is in London somewhere and I haven't talked to her for 5 years and my son is somewhere here in Prague and I don't know where." :( Please pray I might somehow encourage him. I might somehow show him God's ability to heal in even the most hopeless situations. We will start a girl's Bible study next week and I am looking forward to that! Please keep that in prayer, too!
Ok...enough of this epic blog, more soon...shorter....I promise. :) LOVE you all!