This is my final take on “when missionaries get sick” (sounds like something Fox would carry, doesn’t it?). Again, I’m just trying to provide-and work through for myself-a framework to help me think though the inevitable hardships missionaries and anyone involved in any sort of ministry or local mission work will face.
I just got through listening to Jim Rome’s rant on Yoda, and how this little green guy has become some sort of spiritual guru/inspiration/mascot for the first place San Diego Padres. He blasted Yoda as a coward who simply ran into seclusion in some sort of murky forest planet. Rome claims, in Yoda’s own mantra, he simply “didn’t try, he simply did not.” I think he’s got a good point on Yoda. But I think we are all prone to Yoda moments of giving up, hiding, and waiting for someone else to step up.
Anyhow it helps me to have a framework of how to think through these types of things, and this is my final contribution: God can and does “do” ministry through us even when we can’t “do” ministry like we would normally think.
Paul landed in the slammer for preaching the gospel, so he really couldn’t continue his missionary journeys nearly as long as he desired. Nevertheless, he was still able to do ministry. Sometimes when people say, “I’m praying for you,” I wonder what that really means. Is that once a month, just before they saw me, daily, once a year, etc…Sometimes, if I’m in a skeptical mood, I don’t even believe its true. Who hasn’t said, “I’ll pray for you,” and forgotten to actually do it?
But when Paul said he was constantly remembering people in prayer (Phil 1:3), I believe it. He had the time; he had a praying ministry. It wasn’t so much a “hand’s on, going, or preaching” ministry; his was largely a praying ministry. Now of course he ministered to his captors (Phil 1:13), but I don’t know if this was his primary ministry. That joker was always praying for his churches. Prison didn’t stop him.
Sickness couldn’t stop him. The other day when I got sick, I had a great day of prayer; and I think I am actually feeling the fruit of that prayer now as I’m trying to organize people into teaching positions, nursery, youth ministry, etc…
So when sickness strikes our missionaries, it is good to know that they can still “do ministry” even if they can’t “do” what they thought they were there to “do.” Make sense? Maybe talking about Yoda, has gotten me talking like Yoda.