"I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement because you brother/sister, have refreshed the hearts of the saints."
Wow! How could we have expressed what is in our hearts any better than this? This is truly our prayer for all of the individuals who have partnered with Adoption Ministry in Ethiopia during this past mission season.
We have witnessed your service and love to the poor, marginalized and afflicted. You have fed the hungry, poured out your lives, extended your hands, hugged and kissed the lonely and sick a million times. You have carried your tired and exhausted bodies into vans for long rides down donkey and goat laden rodes. You have sacrificed creature comforts and familiar foods and when your physical bodies were affected, you have pressed through.
You have respected and honored the customs and culture of a precious people. You have obeyed the call to "Go." You have been a vessel of the Holy Spirit and of God's love lived out to orphans, widows, men, women and children in Ethiopia. You have refreshed the hearts of the saints!
How is it that so many of you tell us, "I would go back tomorrow!" as you're leaving Ethiopia? Why do we spend inordinate amounts of money, have garage sales, car washes and bake sales to fly to the other side of the planet to live for a while in these conditions and then ask for more? It must be the deep sense of contentment, happiness and fulfillment we come home with. It is losing our lives and finding our lives. "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it." Matthew 16:25
Is that the "full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ?" Is it the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit which encourages and helps us to become servants and not think so highly of ourselves? (Philippians 2) Is it standing in proxy of Christ Himself to feed, comfort and love His children as He would do? Is it seeing the grace, acceptance, faithfulness and kindness of God so visibly in our serving that we understand our own lowly position and desperate need of that same grace?
Paul's exhortation to "BE ACTIVE in sharing your faith" appears to be the key to our "understanding of every good thing we have in Christ." Our hope and prayer is that the Holy Spirit will continue to increase your understanding, even now that you've returned home.
We love you all and cherish the time that we were privileged to spend together.
Mark and Liane Wolbert