Friend, it was worth it! Thank you, Jesus, for challenges and discipline. We are much better for your coaching. (Hebrews 12:10-11)
I once heard a quote from the Danish theologian Søren Kierkegaard who said, "Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forwards." I'm not sure I agree entirely with all of Kierkegaard's theology, but I do resonate with this quote. I find it to be accurate!
I hope that by sharing this post, it helps you or someone you know learn from my experience, and helps you find the more fruitful path as you navigate this life.
The Lone Ranger
Roaming dusty trails, scouting for any sign of trouble, The Lone Ranger and trusted Tonto walk on. Lo and behold, with some well-placed shots and quick wit, they save the day again just in time for the next show. "Hi-Yo Silver, away!"
The problem seemed simple enough to me at the time: get to Japan with a job, connect to a church community, and start working. After "saving the day" in a lifetime of faithful service, go home to party with Jesus. Clearly, some proper preparations and heart postures were lacking in this equation.
Truthfully, I don't advise becoming the "Lone Missionary," or the "Lone Teacher," or "Lone Anything." Even with one trusted companion, a dynamic duo isn't precisely the biblical model for healthy long term ministry.
Well, certainly not in the way that I pursued it. The challenge was big! It still is. Preaching the Gospel faithfully in word and deed to a whole nation is something Lone Rangers don't do alone. (But God can use a team to do it.)
Paul and Barnabas. Paul and Silas. Two of history's most legendary duos. Doesn't an apostolic ministry validate the dynamic duo?
Yes, the Bible presents a going-out two by two strategy as valid. Jesus used it with his 70 disciples, as well. But while they went out in these small units, the missionaries always had a spiritual family to report back to and share life with.
It wasn't solely Paul and Barnabas going out, because a church sent them. There were many people involved in Paul's ministry and definitely more people on his heart than just the people in front of him. His letters themselves prove that these dynamic duos were connected to the bigger picture. The bigger body. Namely, Paul's planted churches in a two-way relationship.
Keep In Touch, Friend
The "duo" was going on in Japan for me, at least. Working with the church body in Japan was invigorating. New friends, new outreaches, and a new mission occupied my time and thoughts. Exciting times, satisfying times, but not always accompanied by a proper focus on my end.
Failing to prioritize ongoing communications with my community in America eventually left me disconnected from quality friends and the church community back in the USA. I'm sorry I let key relationships languish.
There were encouragements, prayers, and laughs to be shared in both timezones. They have been missed. In the age of instant information, especially, this need not be the case.
Don't be a Lone Ranger like me. I pray that all of your terrific teams navigate your own trails a bit better while avoiding this particular pitfall.
Question: What's an important lesson you've learned in your own journey when it comes to staying connected? Leave a comment or write me back, I'd love to hear from you!