While we have been in this village, I have been emailing back and forth with a friend of mine. I will gladly call her a friend, but she began as the world’s greatest boss, when I worked with The Spero Project.
She & her husband are simply incredible. It was such a privilege to work alongside them and learn from them. It’s a privilege to see them raise their child, a five-year-old who knows some Burmese and a significant amount of Arabic that he has learned from spending most of his days in the refugee community of Oklahoma City.
I had written her an email of some of my thoughts while we are here, namely Stephen & I’s discussions of why we are in Mae Sot, and further what possesses us to be in the middle of nowhere, uncomfortable for a month. When you’re in the middle of it, you definitely start to question if it’s worth it and what train of thought got you here.
I suppose my greatest question is this: if Kingdom work is Kingdom work, why do we stay here? Stephen had some wonderful opportunities with his coworkers at Apple, we could have wonderful opportunities working in refugee communities in the States, and really, all of us have wonderful opportunities every where we are and in everything we do.
So why not go back to a soft bed and four seasons in the year? Why not live where our families, and my sweet newborn niece, are?
Our only conclusion was that we feel called here.
I suppose you could see that as a very strong rationale. Honestly, sometimes it feels a little weak against the pull of familiarity.
To all my thoughts and wonderings, she replied with very encouraging, wise words, I thought.
“My natural response is to remind you how influential you are in the developing Karen State. And set up some scenario–‘just imagine what’s going to happen when someone in your class is equipped and brings freedom for a whole group of people.’ But if I’ve learned anything since you’ve been gone it’s that those are well-meaning but blatantly wrong statements. That may or may not happen. It may be that you see far more ‘result’ than you could ever have dreamed. But that’s not up to you or to us. And you can’t judge if it’s right to stay or go based on that. And I can’t hold your encouragement and support hostage to whether there’s a ‘return on investment.’”
It makes me think of Ray Boltz’ song, “Thank you, for giving to the Lord. I am a life that was changed…” This was a favorite when I was a kid.
He sings of a small gift of money he had given to a missionary that saved a man; the Sunday school class he taught to eight-year-olds changed a child’s life. He says, “Each life somehow touched by your generosity…They were unnoticed on the earth; In heaven now proclaimed.”
This is true, that we don’t see the whole the picture, and our small gifts can make big differences for humanity. But I think there is the other side, the not-as-singable truth, that there may not be such results. And that we are still called to obedience for the sake of obedience, rather than for the sake of influence or outcomes.
As 1 Samuel 15:22 declares, “Has the Lord as great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.”
And I appreciate that my friend’s wise words confirmed her encouragement and support of Stephen & I being here out of obedience, even if nothing is changed. If no life is touched, or if there is no “return on the investment.”