Strength in Weakness
Oct 8, 2023 | by The Fellowship
My family said yes to a mission trip in southeast Asia. We partnered with local churches and an evangelistic organization to hold five clinics for providing eyeglasses to villagers. Participating churches each had several hundred locals come through their doors -- a huge boost to their ministry.
Every morning, a large crowd was eagerly waiting. First came an eye exam followed by fitting with the proper glasses. The evangelistic team then shared the Gospel with each individual.
During that trip, we fitted 1,215 people with eyeglasses and saw 351 people pray to receive Christ. Never have I seen such genuine responsiveness to the Gospel! After each clinic, the pastor was given contact information for all who indicated decisions for Christ. The churches follow up with each person, praying they become true followers of Christ.
Though truly wonderful, our ministry was incredibly challenging! The first two days, I was fully present, and my heart was full of joy in showing the kindness of Jesus. But soon my fresh exterior was fading, and my limits exposed. I was experiencing the reality of being an introvert on a demanding mission trip. From dawn to dusk, I was interacting with people.
The clinics took place outside in covered areas, and the tropical heat and humidity challenged my stamina. My senses were overwhelmed with every new smell and taste, plus the traffic chaos and constant honking …not to mention the language barrier making every interaction challenging. My social battery quickly depleted with little opportunity to recharge!
With three days still ahead, how could I show up well to love and serve? On the six-hour drive to the next location, I sat alone in the back of our 15-passenger van, put in my airpods, and tried to create a private space. In those hours of quiet reflection, God graciously provided just what this introvert needed to recharge.
On the third and fourth days, I was engaged and amazed by the people’s response to the Gospel. But it was humbling to admit that I needed Him to work in my life as well.
I was running on fumes by the end of the fourth clinic. Our fifth and final clinic was so remote that we had to ride motorbikes to the village. It was exhilarating and helped pump my adrenaline for the long day ahead. However, I was soon feeling completely and utterly done. I wanted to quit and go home. It was by far the hottest day. Even though I was sitting by the nearest fan, sweat dripped down my back and clothes clung to my body. But the people just kept coming, so we pressed on.
Then the police arrived, questioned the pastor, and asked to see all passports. Tensions were high as they threatened to shut us down! How we prayed! (Yet part of me was halfway hoping the police would close us down. "I'm a terrible missionary," I thought. “People are hearing the gospel ... but I want to close up shop so I can be comfortable! Really?”)
I prayed: "Lord, I need you to change me! Strengthen my weary heart!” Miraculously, even the police went through the line to get eyeglasses and hear the Gospel! By the end of the day, 99 people had decided to trust Christ!
Even though I felt overwhelmed and wanted to quit, God was with me. He is strong – and His strength is made perfect in our weakness. God cares so much more about our character than our comfort. When we face adversity, fear and discomfort serving Him -- God shows up! Glory to God!
Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory …