Following Christ is like a pioneer path out in the wilderness. . . We left the home of some missionaries in the dark of night. We were to follow what seemed like simple instructions up a dirt road around the mountain to our night’s location. There was only one turn to make and that seemed easy enough. Driving up the hill was a daunting task as the only light came from the car’s headlights. The inky darkness veiled the view except for some homes down in the valley. We could only see forward.
We followed the instructions to a spot that might be the turn, but the path did not look like a place to turn. Neither Cathy or I could see any evidence that the drop was a road. I was reluctant to turn there thinking it might get us into a troubled position that we couldn’t recover from. So we pressed on to a gate and could go no further. I turned us around and went back looking for a turn. I found one and took it. It went down the hill and came to a small bridge that looked very unsafe. Logs were covered with tin. I just didn’t feel safe trying to cross. The path was too narrow and steep to turn around so I began to backup. The backup lights were too dim to light the path so it was hard to navigate.
I struggled for a ways until all of a sudden a policeman walked up to the car. I was startled and he said you are on private property. You are interrupting a police operation. I guess the lost look on my face said it all and he wanted to know where we were going. Immediately he said, oh I know how to get there. You can’t turn around here so just go across the bridge up to the house and turn around at our police car.
Going across the tin bridge was uneasy. I was surprised that we didn’t fall. It did not have a solid feel to the construction. We went up the hill and turned around and came back across the rickety bridge a second time. By that time the missionary had come up the hill looking for us to help guide us. He took us on the lane and turned down the path that neither of us felt was safe. But we followed and reached the camp safely.
These pioneer paths of ministry can be very daunting for missionaries on the field. Not only are they unfamiliar but they become even more daunting with fatigue, lost hope, deflated faith and disappointment from missionary leaders. Experiencing the loss of vision, pain from dreams being shattered, the dryness of spiritual nurturing and discouragement can be overwhelming. You can see the lost look on their face. The tears flow and weeping becomes uncontrollable brokenness.
That has been our path over the past four weeks with four different missionary couples. They are struggling with the classic items that cause missionaries to leave the field. They just need someone to come to their location and help guide them to the next turn.
Yesterday morning we opened the blinds and saw a brilliant double rainbow. You could see it from end to end. What a reminder of the promises of God. That is all we have to share. Faith, hope and love that God has shared with us. Sometimes that is the greatest gift when you feel lost and disoriented.
Cathy and Danny Sartin
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Four decade veteran of youth ministry in churches, Youth For Christ and now is the Founder and Executive Director of Deeper Still Missions. Danny and his wife Cathy spend most of their time mentoring missionaries in Africa, Europe, Central America and North America. Future opportunities include South America and the Asia Pacific area.