This month I am celebrating my fourth anniversary in India and my 11th anniversary serving with Christian Veterinary Mission. Where has the time gone? Recently I was in a gathering with other westerners and someone asked me what I do in India. I told her that I do veterinary training and started a tourism business. She immediately responded, “Oh, so you’re not a missionary then?” At first, I was upset by this comment. The person who asked me this question is considered a seasoned missionary in my region; she has been translating the Bible for a small people group for the last 14 years. Her comment made me question myself for a second: am I really a missionary? Am I doing enough? Should I be doing something more “spiritual” than teaching people how to take care of their animals? But the longer I talked with her the more I realized that my calling and hers are quite different. My gifts and hers are also quite different. The people that God has put on our hearts to reach are also different. Just because I run a goat farm and she translates the Bible does not mean I am any less of a missionary than she is.
There is always the constant temptation to compare ourselves with others, especially here on the mission field. How many people have you led to the Lord? How many churches have you planted? How many projects have you started? How many people are you discipling? The list goes on. But I’m pretty sure God doesn’t look at numbers. He looks at the heart and at our faithfulness to His call. In my whole five years in Mongolia, I only led three people to the Lord. While in India I have trained 90 local evangelists, but only 15 of them are actively using the skills I taught them to witness and reach out to their communities. For three years I have been discipling the same group of five village women. All of these seem like insignificant numbers at times. But I am learning to be faithful in the tasks that God has for me. It is never of any use to compare our callings with others around us or to try to measure our own success quantitatively. God gifts and equips us specifically for the tasks he has for us.
Another lesson that God has been teaching me is that if He gives us a task or assignment, he will also give us the grace we need to accomplish it. I recently started a new goat project down in the city. It has taken up a lot of my time and energy and we have encountered so many challenges since starting it. Where we are doing the project happens to be a very spiritually dark community. There are shrines to spirits on every corner and at every house. The people group in the area practice black magic and every night the surrounding area is filled with wailing noises they make to appease the evil spirits. It is eerie to listen to.
It has been incredibly hard starting this project. It is in an area where I do not know the local language so I cant communicate with most of the people. It is in the city which means it is hot all the time, even in winter and there is pollution and traffic to deal with. I don’t have my own vehicle or way of getting around so I have to walk everywhere in the heat and take small public taxis. It is basically like starting over in a new country, even though it is only 3 hrs down the mountain from where I have been living the last three years. I currently split my time between the city and my house in the hills, which has also been challenging. I have been stretched way out of my comfort zone and have had to depend on Gods strength and an extra measure of grace. A few times I have felt like quitting, especially after experiencing some pretty intense spiritual warfare attacks. But every time I have prayed about it, I have felt clearly from God that this is the place I should be investing my time and energy right now. We just brought the first few goats to our newly constructed shed and since bringing them we have had SO many local visitors coming to see what we are doing. We are raising a type of goat that is different from the local breed. People are coming and asking for training and help with their animals. Slowly I am seeing God open up opportunities for witnessing in this spiritually dark area. Very few Christians work with this particular people group because they are so closed to the Gospel and can be very antagonistic. I don’t know what specific tasks God has for me but I am trying to be faithful to what I feel he is calling me to. It is hard sometimes. But His grace is truly sufficient.
Thank you for praying for me. There are many challenges ahead as I launch my new tourism business, continue to set up this new goat project in the city, try to re-register my visa another year and split my time between the city and my house in the hills. I am so thankful to have people backing me in prayer and support.