We were driving out of the farm when the tears began to flow. The pressure of life change and difficulties had finally gotten the best of our missionary friend. Cathy turned to take her hand while I reached back mine. Cathy began to pray.
I spoke to another missionary friend on Friday and recognized that his heart was overwhelmed. All I can say is that I have been through hell. We have to get away! The signs of burnout were in his voice.
Still a third missionary talked last week of the political issues he faces in his missionary agency. I am so tired he stated. The issues seem to never end. There is no resolution to the problems that have been created. Those problems he spoke of have been going on for almost a year.
I called a missionary friend who ministers to women and she burst into tears on the other end of the phone. She said, I heard your voice and the tears just came. She has lost a large portion of her sight in a mild stroke. The change in life has been devastating. She had not cried much before that call.
Cathy and I found our hearts overwhelmed when her father fell down the stairs at home. He was in the hospital in what could best be described as a stupor. Questions swirled about a potential return to America for her to help her family. Faithful prayer by many of our support team brought us through the crisis and he came out of the stupor a few days later and sent us a message to not come home.
There is a key question that must be asked when the tears come. What do those tears say? Tears are a cleansing agent for our heart and mind. God says, I have heard your prayers and seen your tears. (Isaiah 38:4) Not one drop passes his notice!
On Saturday I visited the home of an Afrikaans vineyard farmer with a missionary. I asked him about the vines and how they take care of them. It was one illustration that caught my heart and imagination. He said at certain times of the year you can cut a branch and it begins to drip. We call it the weeping vine. The branch has cells that look similar to human veins. The nutrients from the vine flow through those veins to the produce the fruit on the branches. When you cut it the branch weeps as the nutrients come out.
It made me marvel at the illustration used by Jesus of the vine and branches. He says remain in me and I will remain in you. But apart from me you become like a branch that has been cut.
Tears are a great cleansing gift from God and healing agent. Thank you for lifting us up to touch the lives and wipe the tears of missionaries in faraway places. Their tears say so much. The need for encouragement is enormous.
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.