Called to Love
By Christine Anasco
So many of us go to the field because we feel called to a people group or a nation. We can easily show love to the hurting and the desperate. It’s not difficult to show love to children on the street or to people we are discipling in our churches or to the ones we felt God called us to in the first place. However, the challenge comes when we are asked to love those with whom God has called us to serve alongside. So many missionaries leave the field not because they heard a different summons from the Lord, but because they have conflict with the very people who God Himself called them to love - their fellow missionaries. And Jesus said this is exactly how others- the hurting, the desperate, the non-Christians - would know that we are His disciples - when we love each other well.
We aren’t just called to a nation or a people group, but also we are called to each other. So what are some practical ways we can love each other well on the field?
1. Take time to celebrate special occasions together. This may seem obvious, but it is essential. Many of us have left our families to come onto the field, so we have left behind those family traditions and special people with whom we would normally celebrate. In the Philippines, we always celebrated Thanksgiving as a large family with a turkey and all the trimmings. Even our Filipino brothers and sisters set aside time to celebrate an American holiday with us. They truly embraced the western missionaries and “our holiday” making it their own. This was a practical way to love us well.
2. Have meals and play games together just because… One of the things that close families do together is have fellowship time which includes sharing meals. We often invite fellow missionaries over just to share a meal in the middle of the week. We enjoy this time together as a family. In the Philippines and in Thailand we have several single men and women on the team. We intentionally built relationship with them so that they would feel like part of a family even though they had left their natural one behind. These special relationships have been a huge blessing to our family.
3. Go to each other’s special events and celebrate missionary kids by honoring their events as well. When missionaries or missionary kids on our team have special events like birthdays, baptisms, school plays, etc, it is a blessing and honor to have other missionaries on the team attend those events. Cheering each other on is part of loving well.
4. The Thailand Team is the largest team in the Go To Nations’ field force, and it is a very diverse group of missionaries. In order to stay connected we intentionally schedule and participate in quarterly recreational events. This is just a simple way to gather all together and love each other well.
5. Pray for each other, send an email or text when you know someone is under the weather, bring a meal to a new mom, write an encouraging note, etc. There are a number of practical ways we can love each other well on the field. At the heart level, we need to understand that Jesus did not just call us to the field to live and serve on our own. He called us to walk in fellowship and unity with others so that His Kingdom can advance to every tribe, every tongue and every nation.
I remember after we had been on the field for several years, I was feeling a bit homesick as I thought about all the family I had left behind in the States. (I have never been to my 13 year old nephew’s birthday and have missed countless Thanksgivings and Christmases. I even missed my oldest son’s first year of college, because I have chosen to listen to the call of Christ to Go To all Nations.) But, then I began to think about all of the new family I had gained. I began weeping at my desk, because I realized the truth of the promise Christ gave when He said: "Truly I tell you, no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields--along with persecutions--and in the age to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:29-30) Because our Thai and Filipino friends and the missionaries on the team have loved us so well, we have even more family; even though we had left our family in the States, we have gained a rich new family in new nations.
Embrace the family God has placed all around you and learn to love them well. You will be richer for it and God will be glorified in the midst.
Important questions for reflection and prayer:
1. Lord, how would you have me love my fellow missionaries more in word or deed? Is there anything specific I can do this week?
2. Is there anything hindering my love for my team? If so, what would You have me do about it?