The life of a missionary is a life of many comings and goings. People come for a season and then move on, places change, things seem to be always changing.
This past week we came within hours of being pulled out of Doro due to fighting that had broken out in Upper Nile State. This is where we call home these days. The fighting itself did not really endanger us, but it threatened to pull us in the fighting because our airstrip would be the only one left in Upper Nile State if the one in Poloich had fallen to the rebel forces.
We got the message that we were going to pull our team out on two flights, one on Thursday and the other on Friday. I was quite surprised by the emotions that this raised in me.
If our entire team was pulled out it would be weeks before getting back in. Then it would take more time to get reestablished and back up and running. The thought of this made me ill. If you had asked me a week before this happened to tell you what tasks I do that hof any long term importance, I might have had a hard time giving you a list.
But as soon as I was told we would be leaving, it occurred to me. What about the school that is supposed to open June 1. These students cannot afford any more time away before they have to face the national exam. What about Ruth's English class that I teach the Bible section for? What about the young man that I have been developing a disciplining relationship wih in the past few weeks? All this is just going to end? I was mortified that so many people were going to be impacted by this decision.
I struggle with what the correct response is. Do I fly off to safety because I have the ability to do so at the first sign of trouble? Do I hang in there until the bullets are flying around me?
I am thankful that I did not have to make that decision this time. By Thursday evening, after half our team had left, the UN cancelled the relocation and we were able to stay. Lord willing school will start on time. The relationships I had begun will continue. These people get to live in peace for a while longer. How long? Only God knows. We pray it will be a very long time.
So while people come and go. Governments rise and fall. it is the relationships that we develop that endure. So as you look at the things in your life, what is it that you value most? Job, house, car, all these things can be gone in the blink of an eye. What will live on even after you are gone is the relationship you had with others.
How will you live on in the lives you have touched?