Thursday, September 24, 2015

Don't Waste the Pain

Whenever I study the Bible I begin to think of ways I can communicate to others the things I am learning. It wasn't always this way!

When we lived in Peru, I was happy to teach the women at church. Many of them had very low education levels and pretty much anything I taught them was new to them. Besides, they were patient with my Spanish. 

But then we moved to Bogota, Colombia and the women in the Ladies' Bible Study were all professionals. I was asked to teach there and I was terrified! 

There were some Thursdays when my husband had to almost literally push me out the door. He would tell me he was praying for me and promise that our little ones would be fine with him. He couldn't understand, he was unfazed by preaching to any audience. 

But as I taught each week and saw the women begin to grasp what the Bible has to say, I grew to love it. Pretty soon, I was always thinking of ways to explain and illustrate everything I was learning. 

They started asking me to speak at ladies' conferences and retreats as well as the Bible class at our local church. I became a part of a committee of ladies that planned conferences for women in Bogota and was often one of the speakers at these conferences. One conference that we called "Passion, Purity, and Love" had over 600 women attending. 

When we moved back to the states in 2008, my ministry changed radically. My husband basically continued his international ministry with the Emmaus Bible Courses, just from a different location. But I was ministry-less. I soon took on the Meals-on-Wheels program at our local church, served on one of the ladies' service teams, did lots of hospitality, and attended the women's Bible study, but I no longer was a sought after Bible teacher. 

That's pretty much the way it has been these last seven years. I have had some opportunities to teach, but not on a regular basis. I've been on the Ladies' Planning Committee for three years and head of it for two. I also serve on the Missionary Awareness Committee and head up a ladies' service team. So I've been doing things, but not something that became a passion for me.

A few years ago my husband and I went through a very difficult experience. Actually, it's still on-going. As a result of this I started praying, "Lord, this hurts so much. Please don't let us waste the pain. Use it in our lives and through our lives." Then the Lord led me to do a study on the life of John the Baptist, a man who was no stranger to trials and pain.

Recently I believe God began to answer that prayer. I was invited to speak on the topic of Suffering at a small local church in Minnesota. I had a great time with the women. We cried together and we laughed together. Several told me that my ministry was just what they needed to hear. I hate it that they are going through the difficulties they are facing, but I'm thankful that God isn't wasting our pain and is making it useful to others. Someday, they will see the same results.

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For ideas on how to connect with your family at mealtimes see my book Around the Table.

It's full of ideas and suggestions for bringing your family together for meals and how to make those times fun. Click on the book and you can read the introduction and first chapter for free!

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