The Trauma of Ministry

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God calls all of us to the mission field, whether it is in our hometown or across the ocean. For Nathan and Jade Metz, the call led them to Uganda, Africa, where they focus on pastoral training and compassionate ministries. In a post from their ministry blog, they speak about the difficulties of a life lived on the field. Read on to learn how God allows us to feel great sympathy and deep pain for those we build meaningful relationships with daily.

“I’m traumatized.  God directed me into the dark.  I trusted Him and I took His hand.  He led me to a place I didn’t know, to people with their problems and their pain.  His love stretches to the ends of the earth and in that end His servants toil, sharing the Gospel for His glory.  So I’m a soldier.  I’m a fighter.  I’m traumatized.

“There is a trauma in ministry that is rarely spoken of.  Perhaps it is an embarrassment to some.  Perhaps it is misunderstood.  For many, it marks failure and signifies the beginning of the end.  Ministry to the Lord has stripped me of comforts and turned my life upside down.  In the evening hours I reach for a pillow but I am hemmed in by sadness, sickness and loss.  Not mine.  Theirs.  The ones I came to love. Their pain hangs across my shoulders like dead weight, like a waterlogged carpet.  In our meal time I stretch my hand across our shiny table to a pan full of food but I find hunger and my hand is begging.  Not mine, though.  Theirs.  The ones I came to love.

“In this ministry of love I am caught up in the whirlwind of wanting but not having, hurting but not healing.  Their pain is my pain.  Their trouble is my trouble.  When I look at my ankle I see the foot of James.  His was crushed by a father with a hammer in a drunken rage.  When I look at my children I see them wandering the streets, sifting through piles of fly covered refuse in search of anything with value.  When I bathe in the comfort of my home I’m covered in street runoff that provides the only water source for whole communities in our city.  Their pain is my pain.  It’s the trauma of ministry.

“In the 3 years of Jesus’ ministry he saw and heard much.  In his humanity, surely he felt the trauma.  Countless numbers of sick and diseased people flocked to the face of Jesus for help.  Imagine what he thought as he laid down each night; their desperate faces flashing in his eyes.  He felt the pain of being hated.  He felt the deep distress of confrontation and public hostility.  He carried the enormous burden of love and compassion toward a people wallowing in a broken world that groans for deliverance.  Jesus endured the trauma of ministry.

“I saw a truck on the side of the road.  The cab was collapsed from a head on collision.  A short distance further was a second truck with a similar appearance.  These two giant forces hit each other so hard that they were both crushed.  Trauma goes both ways.  Yes, there is a trauma in ministry.  The weight of the broken world hits the minister so hard that pieces shift and change and break.  However, the trauma goes both ways.  The weight of the Gospel hits the broken world so hard that pieces shift and change and break.  This collision sparks with light and draws the eyes and turns the necks of everyone who is near.

“So, I’m traumatized.  This ministry has hit so hard that my pieces are broken.  My fabric is torn.  In my prayer I ask God to pick my head up out of the pain around me.  He says, ‘No.  Keep your head down.  Stay in it.  I’ll hold you up.  Let’s love them together.’  To God be the glory.  Great things He has done.”

Do you want God to do great things through you? WGM can help you on that journey. We can help you find God’s call at http://www.wgm.org/serve. Check out the site, look at the options, and pray hard about what God is calling you to. There is someone out there waiting to hear the gospel from you and to see Jesus in you.

Born into a Dark and Broken World

Jeff and Christine Stanfield serve in mentoring/discipleship and training/empowerment ministries in Uganda, Africa. In their recent Christmas letter, they retell the story of Jesus being born into this broken world. This is quite fitting for WGM to highlight, considering our theme for December is “Christmas around the World.” Read on to learn how Jesus’ story relates to Karen’s story in Africa and how we can bring Jesus’ light into the darkness of our world.

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“Jesus was born into a broken, dark and messy world. He brought Light into the darkness. He came as Truth but he experienced deceit and betrayal. Jesus understands our world. He knows the biases, brokenness, darkness and mess of this world. He understands, and yet, He stays with us. He remains Emmanuel, God with us. It is our privilege to share this Good News!

“Karen (not her real name) lives in a broken, dark and messy world. One Tuesday afternoon shechristmas-in-africa
heard God’s Word as Christine shared in a women’s group. Karen asked for prayer, then prayed to repent and accept Jesus as her Savior. A couple of weeks later, Karen asked Christine to pray with her that she might not backslide into ‘dark living.’ Christine and Karen prayed for God’s Spirit to give Karen strength to live God’s way in His kingdom. They asked God to help Karen find a job that would keep her busy doing right things and not wrong things. The next week Karen could hardly wait until the close of the women’s meeting to tell Christine she had just completed her first day at work, in a job Karen called ‘good.’ Christine and Karen praised the Lord together, thanking Him for giving her life and a job to help her. Karen is still in a broken, dark and messy world, but she is living in Light.

“Mary (not her real name) came to Kampala as a university student. Her parents are divorced, at least two of her siblings are addicted to more than one substance and Mary carries the weight of it all within her heart. In a small group offered by University Discipleship Movement (UDM), Mary shared her story. The others in the group offered her compassion and understanding, then joined Mary in lifting her family in prayer. Mary continues to find courage and hope as she learns more of Jesus and His redeeming love. Now she is able to share the Light of Christ with her family and others. Mary still interacts in a broken, dark and messy world, but she is living with Hope.

“Several Africa Gospel Church leaders participated in a training conference in August. The material shared correlates with the Community Health Empowerment (CHE) training WGM provides. Following the training in August, several leaders have shared with us the impact of living out God’s Word in their communities. AGC Pastor Gideon and church members went to visit a widow in their community. They shared with her and then gave her a kilo of sugar and a loaf of bread, saying they were sharing to show God’s love. The widow was so thrilled at this unexpected generosity that she ran out of her house, shouting. She told everyone who could hear what the Christians had done for her. This woman still lives in broken, messy circumstances but she has experienced Love.

“Pastor Hillary shared that members of his congregation worked together to clean up the local christmas-in-africa-2health center. The staff were very encouraged through the community participation and thanked the people. In addition, the staff promised additional clean-up to benefit the community. The people of this community still live where there is brokenness and darkness but they have renewed hope.

“Christine meets with the women’s group most Tuesday afternoons, partnering with others in sharing Jesus in a local community. We both participate in university ministries, sharing with students and leaders. CHE trainings and follow-up are scheduled throughout the coming year.

Bringing Light into a Broken World
“We are grateful for the opportunities we have to bring the Light of Jesus to the people in Uganda. Will you partner with us in prayer as we serve? Each of the ministries we serve in have needs for additional regular financial support as well as cash gifts. As you feel led, you can either send your contribution to WGM [P.O. Box 948, Marion, IN 46952-0948] or you can give online by going to the internet link associated with each account:

“We have the responsibility, the tremendous privilege of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ in a broken, dark and messy world. Jesus, God with us, continues to bring transformation in hearts and lives. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Those who experience Him find new life, light and hope for all of eternity. Thank you for participating with us in bringing Jesus into the brokenness all around us.”

Last Turn

Justin and Debby Williams are missionaries serving in pastoral training and education in Uganda, Africa. Justin recently posted an update on their Williams’ ministry blog that examined how God is helping them run the race of ministry during their final turn before the end of their first term on the field. Read on to learn how God is making a difference through the Williams family, giving them the energy and stamina to finish the race strong.

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“I remember (WAY BACK IN THE DAY) when I was in high school and I used to run a lot. I actually ran the 800 meter race. It was perhaps the most grueling race that I can remember because you couldn’t exactly jog and you certainly couldn’t sprint full out for half a mile. Lately I have been reminded of the feeling that encompassed me as I came around that last turn or also affectionately known as dead man’s turn because that is how you felt when you got there. At that turn I remember feeling the full body drain both physically and mentally. It was absolute exhaustion…and yet my legs continued to carry me. I still saw forward progress even though that last 100 meters seemed like a mile. Against every fiber of my being, I would sprint the last 100 meters and finish strong. For me it came down to excellent resistance training, perseverance through pain and an eye fixed on finishing well.

“In the past few months, we have been rounding the final corner and we are just beginning to see the end of our first term. Right now, the wind is blowing hard into our faces and the track seems longer and longer. We are certain of this; the enemy hates us and what God has, is and will continue to accomplish through us here. We have been through things over the past few months that have stretched our faith and caused both great joy and great pain. There are days when we laugh together out of sheer excitement and elation at what God is doing. There are days that we sit, shell shocked wondering where the next flaming arrow will come from. Yet in all of this, we see God’s hand around us and we watch His victories continue to mount even in areas where that would seem to be almost completely defeated. On days where we are predicting an outcome, He chuckles to Himself and thinks, ‘you dream too small.’

“As we begin to round this last corner, it is gratitude towards Him that allows my lungs to fill and my body to press forward. Below is just a sampling of how God is moving in such an amazing way.”

WGM can help you connect with the Williams family. Visit their bio page to learn more about them and their ministries. You can also see photos and get updates, prayer requests, and more by going to their blog.

The Cost

God calls all of us to the mission field, whether it is in our hometown or across the ocean. For Nathan and Jade Metz, the call led them to Uganda, Africa, where they focus on pastoral training and compassionate ministries. In their latest post from their ministry blog, Nathan speaks about the difficulties of a life lived in transition and constant fluctuation. Read on to learn how missionaries deal with transition and how no matter the calling, God is always there to support us.

“With a tiny face buried in my chest and tears dripping onto my shirt I hear a quivering voice repeat the common words: ‘I don’t want to be a missionary anymore.’ If that were all I ever heard then there would be a sense of confidence in the problem. At least then, in that case, I would know what the struggle was. However, there are other times when I hear statements like, ‘Dad, I’m so proud of you and mom for what you do.’ These words came after a day when I was helping clean up the damage caused by a tornado in a nearby city. Coincidentally, all of these comments reflect a tornado, of sorts, that spins chaotically through the homes of missionary families tossing things around and stirring everyone into confusion.

“The strong winds in missionary homes are caused by uncertainty, change, loss, inconsistency, etc. Our kids ask real questions about things that most kids never even wonder about. The lack of certainty and predictability in our future has a dramatic effect on the way we think and feel about the world. I remember a few months ago, in Uganda, we were leaving a community event with several families with whom we had become close. As we walked to the car one of our kids asked, ‘Will that be the last time I see my friend?’ I was blown away. What a strange question for a child to have to wonder about! Already our kids have started to hold life loosely. Jade and I do the same thing. In one hand we see the value of a full and deep life with strong attachments and lasting relationships. In the other hand we see how frequently those lasting moments become passing moments and those deep friendships are pressed by the burden of miles and years.”

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Photo Credit: Tiffany Janofski

What can you do for missionaries dealing with transition? Find little ways to help out: make them a meal, write a letter of encouragement, or pray for them.

To read the rest of the post, visit Nathan and Jade’s ministry blog.