At this time two weeks ago I was ensconced in an American Airlines jet flying over the Atlantic on my way from Dublin, Ireland to Chicago, Illinois and finally home to Northwest Arkansas Regional airport (XNA). Two days from now I will catch a flight out of XNA to DFW where I’ll board another American flight for Buenos Aires, Argentina. It might appear that I enjoy traveling but if the truth be told I simply grit my teeth and endure it.
So why do I do go? Not because it’s exciting, I can tell you that. Foreign travel lost its romance several years ago; about the time Brenda decided she was no longer up for all night flights and jet lag. I go for one reason and one reason only – to do the ministry to which God has called me!
Having said that let me hasten to add that ministry is a source of great joy to me, far outweighing the inconvenience of travel and separation from those I love. I never feel more alive than when I am ministering, be it through preaching, counseling, writing or pod casts. Like the apostle Paul I can truly say, “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24).Category: April 2008
I’ve just returned from fifteen days of ministry in Spain and Ireland. It was a paradoxical time – spiritually exhilarating and physically exhausting, both emotionally renewing and emotionally wrenching. I left the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport on a Sunday evening March 16 and flew to Chicago where I caught a flight to Dublin, Ireland arriving at 8:35 on Monday morning. After an eight hour layover in Dublin I flew on to Madrid, Spain for the International Media Ministries missionary retreat. Needless to say my sixty-one year old body takes a beating from jet lag and overnight transatlantic flights in the economy class. Still after a day to recover I was ready to go.
Missionaries John and Ruth Merrell have been the directors of International Media Ministries for nearly ten years and during that time the Lord has enabled them to accomplish some incredible things in spite of tremendous challenges. Through the dedicated efforts of the IMM team they are producing radio and television programming for both children and adults in a host of languages. Each week more than 120 million people hear the gospel in their own language, many of whom are Muslims. John has traveled to more than eighty countries working with local missionaries and pastors to produce programming that is culturally relevant and in the listeners’ native language.
One of the many challenges facing the IMM team is the fact that most of their work is done in the studio. Although the materials they produce for radio and television bring tens of thousands to Christ they seldom see the fruit of their labor. Local missionaries and pastors have the privilege of discipling these new converts but the IMM missionaries almost never get to pray or fellowship with them. As a result they are sometimes tempted to wonder if what they are doing is really making a difference. If they have been missionaries for any length of time they are probably facing challenges in other areas of their lives as well. Things like the death of an aged parent or having to leave children back in the states to begin college. Others have personal health issues or financial concerns as the weakening of the dollar abroad makes it harder and harder to do what they have come to do.Category: April 2008