Today is my last full day in Davao. I am just itching to get home to my babies and yet I am sad to leave, knowing I have only seen a small portion of the work that is going on here.
When you visit or move to a new culture, lots of information is thrown at you. Many missionaries refer to this as “trying to drink from a fire hydrant.” The metaphor works.
I have spent nine days trying to see both the big picture of the work here in the Philippines as well as hear the specific details in the myriad of stories I have heard from individuals who serve here. It is humbling, encouraging, overwhelming, and inspiring all at the same time.
There are people who have served here only a few months and those who have served for decades. I have read and listened to the stories of Bible translators, media specialists, teachers, medical workers, tent-makers, administrative staff, pastors, mobilizers, orphanage staff, anti-sex trafficking workers, evangelists, social workers, and more. I have talked to people working with kids, mentally dialed adults, orphans, sexual abuse victims, missionary kids, Filipino Christian youth, Christians, Muslims, the poor, the wealthy, the forgotten.
And the fire hydrant just keeps spewing water.
Sometimes it is hard to know where you fit into the big picture of what God is doing. We struggle all the time. We wonder, “What can a PE teacher and a stay-at-home-mom who likes to write and take pictures possibly do to make an impact on the needs of the world? How we make a difference here in the Philippines? How can we help those in the States make a difference right where they are?”
Our human tendency is to want to see impact in a straight line. If I do this, follow the line, the impact will be on the other side. We want to know that doing A will cause B. From here to there. If this, then that.
But missions (and life in general) doesn’t work that way. We may never see a direct line from action to impact. And it’s only our pride that cries out for it.
Just this morning (well, my morning, it’s still evening in America) Bob Creson, CEO for Wycliffe Bible Translators, posted some images from a conference he is attending for Every Tribe Every Nation (an organization whose sole purpose to eradicate Biblical poverty.) On one of the slides he shared was a term I had never heard, a term most appropriate: knitworking. Not networking, knitworking. Just as a blanket or sweater is not made from a piece of yarn merely stretched from end to end but rather through the careful handiwork of knitting needles weaving strands and colors into something of value, making disciples of all nations is done by the careful handiwork of God who weaves people and places and passions and purpose into a beautiful piece of artwork that will only be revealed when we get to the awe and wonder of Revelation 7:9.
And so, as much I long sometimes to see how exactly we fit in and the difference we can make, we’ll be content to be a single strand of yarn, given up for the cause of this great knitting project. We’ll trust in the handiwork of God. God, who through the beauty displayed through the mountains and the seas and the birds and the trees, leaves no doubt of His capabilities. We’ll offer our loaves and fish to a God who is able to take them and feed the masses.
God has knit each of us in our mother’s womb and he will knit each of us together in such a way that every nation, people, tribe, and language will know that salvation belongs to our God.