Feeding Yourself While Feeding Others
Why did you go to church before you were a missionary? Did you go for the teaching and preaching, so you could better understand God’s Word and feel inspired to live it out that week? Maybe you went to be encouraged by Christian friends and to pray together. Perhaps you loved participating in a certain ministry: singing in the choir, teaching kids, or preparing special events. As you worshipped God and served others, you were a blessing to your church, and you received a blessing in return. In culinary terms, it was a potluck: you brought something to the table, and you left full.
Now, you are on the mission field. If you are learning a new language and attend church, your weary brain is trying to stay awake through an hour of gibberish. It’s like watching a movie that could be very interesting, if only you could turn on the captions and understand it. In food terms, you’re eating crumbs. You’re practically anorexic (taking in nothing at all) or anemic (unable to absorb all the nutrition).
Once you have learned the language, you may be starting a new church. In that case, you could be hosting the church in your house or under the shade of a tree. Instead of serving in that one special ministry you loved before, your family may do everything from giving rides, preparing food, leading music, preaching, teaching, watching babies, and cleaning up before and after, until you can see people saved and trained to do those ministries. Following the food analogy, you are like a nursing mother: you are feeding others regularly, but hardly have time to grab a bite yourself.
While you are attending church, preparing for church, and running much of church, “church” is never quite what it used to be. With the busyness of serving and helping the members, going to church can feel very much like going to work. Gastronomically-speaking, you enjoyed going to your favorite restaurant, so you got a job there. Now, instead of eating the delicious meals, you’re cooking and serving them.
So, how does a missionary stay spiritually fed? You must carve out time with God every day! You must open His Word and eat voraciously. Pour out your heart to Him in prayer. Ask for His sustenance and guidance. This time must be separate from any sermon or lesson preparation. Feed yourself, so you can have the strength to serve others. Aside from regular devotional time, seek out other means of spiritual nourishment. Do a Bible study with another missionary, sing in English to your Savior, listen to sermons online or podcasts of Bible teaching, or read books and magazines (print or digital) for missionaries. Feed your soul as intentionally as you feed your body.
While you may be dishing out more than you are receiving on a Sunday, ask God to help you truly worship Him. Then, before you go to church, ask God to help you see it as He does. If you don’t understand a word yet, your presence is an offering to Him. If you are leading or serving the Church, your living sacrifice is holy and acceptable to Him. Do all you do with your eyes on Him. Then, “taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him” (Psalm 34:8).
About the Author: When Sarah & her husband, David, arrived in Portugal in 2010, learning Portuguese & Portuguese Sign Language was their first task. Since then they have both taught in local schools and after-school centers, built relationships with neighbors and co-workers, and begun two church plants in Montijo. Their desire is for God to be glorified in Portugal!
Learn more about their ministry by visiting their website: www.boothsinportugal.com