The Trauma of Ministry

nathan-and-jade-metz

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.

Living in the “Dirt” of Missions

brady-and-alicia-searl

Brady and Alicia Searl are missionaries serving in discipleship ministries in Uganda. They recently made the move to Uganda with their young son, Gabe. In this #GoGrowChange post focusing on the theme “dirt,” Alicia shares the challenges that come with such a move and how God’s provision was with them every step of the way. (All photos were taken by Brady and Alicia.)

“We have been living in Kampala, Uganda, for the past four months. We had been anticipating our move abroad over the past two-and-a-half years, and it sometimes feels surreal to look around and be in the place where God had been preparing us to serve for so long. Our journey has not been easy, but we serve a God whose plan is bigger than ours, and He has been img_5999faithful during our journey to the mission field. Being in a place of reliance on God for funding and provision did not come naturally to our family’s American mindset of planning, preparing, and reliance on our means of stability. One of those means of stability was our jobs. Brady was working for a company where he was offered over four promotions during our time of committing to the mission field. Each time we felt God was prompting us to continue to trust Him rather than seek earthly wealth and opportunities. It came to a point where we knew we had to move away from our jobs and home and move back to Kentucky, where we had family and roots, to finish up our support raising. It was very humbling to move back in with my parents and fully rely on God and the generosity of family and friends to survive.

img_5954

“Our time in Kentucky allowed us to fully focus on preparing for the mission field and was a rich time of connecting with our close friends and family. It’s funny how when we actually take steps that God has prompted us to take, He provides in even richer ways.

“One of the challenges of this season was preparing to pack and saying our goodbyes. Even though our time in Kentucky was less than a year, we made strong connections with old friends, created new friendships, and spent quality time with family. Preparing to pack a family of three for three years is not an easy task. We had sold many of our belongings and now had the task of deciding what to pack in eight 50-pound trunks. I wasn’t sure our marriage was going to last after many debates about what I found important and what Brady found important. I once again had to rely on God to provide for us and not lean on my own understanding of comforts and necessities.

img_6272

“Our first few months have brought about more changes, and we are learning to lean on God for comfort. We have been adjusting to living in a crowded city and learning to live without some comforts, like air conditioning and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. We have been adjusting to sitting through more than three-hour long church services and driving in standstill traffic. God has provided more important things for us, like a supportive team and friendships. We have been learning Luganda and making many mistakes, like img_6262putting emphasis on the wrong part of the word Amazi and turning ‘I would like some water’ into ‘I would like some poop.’ On days where we become frustrated in our learning, we will have an experience where someone comments on how well we are doing with learning the language and provides us with some encouragement needed to continue to practice and study.

“Through the challenges and ‘dirt’ of living abroad, we have great joy in knowing that we are now truly living in the space that God laid on our hearts for several years. He continues to mold and shape us into the vessels He created us to be. We are thankful that we serve a God who walks with us through the good and bad and calls us to get ‘dirty’ sometimes.”

img_6177

WGM can help you get involved in the Searls’ ministry in Uganda. Visit www.wgm.org/searl to give or stay connected, www.wgm.org/uganda for a list of service opportunities in Uganda, and BradyandAliciaSearl to follow them on Facebook.

Finding Hope in the Dirt of Gang Life

The Center is WGM’s major ministry in Stockton, California, touching the lives of thousands of children and youth each year. It is an after-school drop-in center for many at-risk kids. The majority of these children are from single-parent families, many of which are consumed by drugs and/or alcohol and the gang lifestyle.

The following is not only Carlos’s story but also the story of many generations plagued by local gang activity and the gang lifestyle.

gangsHis father and two brothers are dead, killed amidst the gang violence. His mother learned the gang life at a young age and has opened their home to violence, drugs, and prostitution. His sister has been forced into prostitution for the gang as the cycle continues.

Carlos has a goal in mind—something he wants to achieve that no one in his family has ever done—he wants to be a high school graduate. Dreams feel lofty as the dirt of everyday life in the inner city has challenges at every turn. Carlos has been indoctrinated into this lifestyle from birth. He is in a ninth-generation gang affiliated family. Violence, drugs, and prostitution are just some of the things Carlos has to wade through to concentrate on his homework in his own house.

He doesn’t have the tools to be successful, because generational gang life has prevented it. Achieving his goal of graduation seems distant. There is, however, light in the darkness. Bob Margaron, who serves at The Center with his wife, Lisa, stated, “Carlos was having trouble doing his homework because he was doing it on his phone. Most assignments at school are submitted online, which requires an Internet connection. The Center went out and got him a Chromebook so he can use it for school, and [we] helped get him a job as well.”

One of the mottos of life in gang households is: “Love your mother, love your church, but die for the gang.” The Center provides kids in Stockton a safe place to go where they can get away from that destructive lifestyle for a few hours and concentrate on homework, play on the playground, and, most importantly, hear about Jesus Christ and how they can have a personal relationship with Him.