My life includes zero exposure to military culture so I rarely think in that genre. Yet recently I found myself thinking in military terms as I met with ministry wives and ministry women during recent international trip. I have heard the Marines referred to as “the tip of the spear” and seen images of Navy Seals propelling down lines from helicopters in treacherous places. Well, I have met their female ministry counterparts face to face. Now that I am back in the safe, comfortable confines of my life I cannot get their stories or faces out of my heart. Their stories need to be told and yet their stories cannot be told.
A call to serve the Lord and advance the gospel comes with true sacrifice and genuine loss. Jesus is never shy about a “counting the costs” kind of exercise. His terms are sort of harsh when He suggests we should “come and die”. Believers should understand and experience these processes. Not all of us experience losses or sacrifices at exactly the same level. Sadly some fail to ever know the concept at all.
These women encounter sacrifice far from my own understanding. It goes well beyond leaving family and friends. Isolation and loneliness are constant companions. Spiritual community is pretty much non-existent. They did not merely lose Chick Fil A and Target, they have lost a sense of safety for themselves and their children.
In their zip codes, women are heavily oppressed- which translates THEY are heavily oppressed. Can you imagine never being able to leave your home without being accompanied by your husband? It’s a way of life. Living graciously under oppression can only be maintained by voracious sense of call, the power of the Spirit and love for the sea of lost faces before you.
Even their Internet behaviors must be altered to keep their platforms secure.
The faces of their adorable children reminded me of grandparents who live far, far away.
None of their losses are small. Their sacrifices are life altering. They flex and yield to unfamiliar, powerful cultures daily.
No blogs full of ministry updates are written from their living rooms. No Facebook wall full of glowing pictures. No tweeting occurs. Often their home churches may never know exactly where they live.
These are some tough chicks. Yet tender with love for the people they live among. People who haven’t rejected the name of Christ, they haven’t yet heard His Name.
Semper Fidelis, the Marine motto, “always faithful”. Military wives unofficially claim the motto Semper Gumby meaning “always flexible”. Both terms easy to apply to these women’s lives.
What is the take away from meeting ministry women in this context? Is guilt, pity or hero worship appropriate? Those responses not the goal here.
- Pray. Systematic life-giving prayers are needed for missionaries.
- Re-adjust life choices (again) in order to support global missions more fully.
- Evaluate the Semper Fidelis and Semper Gumby quotient in my calling.
Semper Fidelis. Pretty much what we yearn for God to speak over us, ”Well done good and faithful servant….”.
Semper Fi, not a bad motto for a ministry wife or any woman of faith for that matter.
Published November 13, 2014