My husband and I had the rare opportunity of being in a Sunday morning church service in Costa Rica that spoke to us as missionaries. We often listen to ministers who speak to the general congregation, but today was different. We assumed this was a general congregation, until the end of the service when the Costa Rican missionary not only gave an altar call, but also asked those who had a call on their lives to come forward. We watched as nearly one-third of this large congregation moved to the front.
As an almost 70 year-old female missionary, with 35 years of service, made her way to the platform, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Maybe she would tell us about her experiences or some typical missionary stories. And she did – but God did a lot more. He took her words and ministered to His people.
Since joining my husband in missions work, I have often been discouraged, exhausted, and disillusioned. I followed this calling with an optimism that soon gave way to reality. There is a cost that comes along with the calling. You can be misunderstood, unsupported, isolated, and out of your comfort zone. On top of that, there is spiritual warfare going on, and all of a sudden, you find yourself right in the thick of it.
This missionary told us there is a cost. When you follow your calling you will face adversity, but don’t get sidetracked by it. Continue to follow God’s leading and He will take care of it. She had left everything behind to minister to the most impoverished people and children in the world. She became ill on several occasions, to the point of near death. Then, God showed up and healed her. She opened a home and adopted children who would not have survived without God’s intervention. And here she is today, still sharing the transforming power of the gospel.
This precious missionary spoke with power in her voice. She had no fear and she had no regret for what her calling had cost her. As I listened through the words of our translator, I silently asked forgiveness for expecting everything to be easy. I thought, “I can’t even call myself a missionary after hearing her story. Dear Lord, my issues are nothing compared to what she’s gone through – a few bugs and scorpions are irrelevant in the scope of things. Missing my family during extended mission trips, or even feeling disconnected from friends and activities seems trivial in contrast.
I left the service with a different perspective. I have accepted that if you follow God’s calling on your life – it will cost you. But what is that in comparison to what it cost Jesus to lay down His royal robe that day, and come down here to save us?
”For which of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?” Like 14:28 (NIV).