Everyday, I am learning that ministry is all around. It is there for those who are looking. I have been wanting to do more for the Lord, but wasn't sure where to start. I do not enjoy just sitting around while we learn the language and culture, but I also understand those things must be the priority right now. We do not want anything to distract us from learning the language, but sometimes I feel so... useless. I have been praying He would lay something on my heart that I could do for Him to reach out that would not take me away from language learning. At first I wanted something big. Something exciting. But I am learning that ministry isn't necessarily Bible studies, VBS, bus ministry... sometimes ministry is as simple as going for a walk.
My First Ministry
I leaned over and asked him if he wanted to go for a walk with me today. Michaela went with me a couple of days ago. It was wonderful one-on-one time with my daughter that day. We talked and laughed and grabbed a snack and drink at a pasal. Now it was Gabe's turn. My little six year old needed some "mommy time." I grabbed the keys and headed out the door and out the gate. He chattered away the whole time. It was clear that being alone with mommy was a good thing for him. And it was even more special to him that I CHOSE to have him come with me.
It is always good to be reminded that God has called me to minister to my children. It is a ministry that should never be neglected, especially as we live on the other side of the world now. Sometimes just getting alone with them and listening to them can do so much good. When I went walking with Michaela a few days ago, she really opened up and enjoyed our "exploration" of new roads.
Next will be Ben's turn. I think I will enjoy walking with him very much. It will only be a few more years, and then I will not be able to take walks with him. He will be in the States for college, and we will be here. I want to treasure my time with him while I can.
Looking for Ministry
As we have been taking these walks, I have been praying, "Lord, send me someone. I just want to share Christ with someone!" I am still so limited by not knowing the language, but I do not want that to stop me from trying to do something for the Lord. And thus far, God has answered my prayer. We have to be cautious about certain things here. It isn't like in the States where we could just go around handing out tracts everywhere... boldly and in the open. But God is still opening doors. I wait for the Holy Spirit to give me a nudge, and then follow His leading.
Today, Gabe and I stopped at a vegetable pasal. While we were there, a beggar lady with an injured foot stopped. She asked for help. I didn't respond at first. I waited. Gabe and I continued to pick out potatoes, squash, carrots, onions, and green beans. When our bag was full, I paid the pasal owner and turned to the lady. As I was paying for the vegetables, I knew this was my appointment for the day. I pulled out a tract and a little bit of money.
"This money is for you." I struggled to make sure I used the right verb tense. Then I handed her the tract. "And this is for you, also. In here are very good words." It was the best I could do, but she took both items graciously.
When I went walking with Michaela, we stopped at what we call the "gated pasal." The girl at the counter is always smiling and talking so kindly to me, though we do not say many things. She doesn't know English. But she is so friendly. As we approached the counter to pay, the Spirit nudged. She was my appointment for that day. I handed her the tract and she truly seemed thankful that I would give anything to her.
The Language Ministry
As I go walking around the area with the children, we stop at several different pasals. I know I could get everything we need from one or two, but I choose to get a little something from several... just so I can meet them and talk. It is a great way to practice what I am learning in the language. And it is a great way to get to know people. Who knows when I may get the "green light" to share the Gospel or invite them to church! They may be my very next appointment.
By simply talking to them and being kind, I can see them softening. They are less suspicious of the "foreigner." Our family has become familiar faces. So I get my bread and eggs from the "cake" pasal, our snacks from the "gated" pasal, our veggies from the veggie pasal, our noodles from the corner pasal, our flour and sugar from the Lotus pasal, our fruits from the fruit stand... Yeah, I know that's a lot of stops, but I pass every one of them on a half mile round trip walk. And every one of them know my face. They know my smile. They know my voice. They are impressed that I am learning their language and they enjoy talking to me.
I know this "going for a walk" ministry doesn't seem like much. It isn't teaching a ladies fellowship. It isn't a children's Bible club. It isn't nursing home ministry. (Oh, how I want to do those things! But only in God's timing and if He wills.) It is literally just taking a walk and reaching out to those who God puts in my path... my children, my neighbors, those I pass on the street, and those I see in the shops.
It's more than just a walk. It is making myself available for whatever the Lord wants. And I must say, ministry was quite enjoyable today.