Click here to read Part 1.
View of Sao Paulo
Image by Kalexander2010 via Flickr Creative Commons
It was nearly midnight when Brandon and I drove through Farmerville on our way home from the Siegmunds'. I let the words fall softly. As if speaking them too loudly might shatter the small-town quiet and any possibility there was of going. "Just so you know...Erica asked me to go with her to Brazil."
He said nothing. I said nothing else. No decision had to be made until the end of March, so I didn't mention the trip again.
We left a few days later for a week in Branson with the family. While away, I came to two realizations:
First, I wouldn't go if Brandon didn't fully support the trip. Reluctant consent wouldn't satisfy me. I refused to twist his arm or wrestle him down with the force of my will. He'd have to approve my going. Bless it.
And that was almost impossible. He'd always taken my overnight absences as a personal affront. Furthermore, I'd broken trust in the past, so him encouraging me to leave the country for two weeks would require an act of God.
Second, I wasn't sure it was right to go. Let me explain.
- I have this thing about wasting church resources on sending American missionaries to foreign countries to do things locals should be doing. To put it mildly, it annoys me. Don't spend thousands of dollars to fly across the world and steal construction and babysitting jobs from the people you're supposedly helping. Send the money. Equip the missionaries. Put the locals to work. The end. Not all "mission trips" look like this, but too many of them do.
- I'm against evangelizing an area only to abandon it days later. Again, it's a waste of resources because there's no one left behind to sustain a move of God. I can't take part in anything of the sort in good conscience. Been there. Done that. Threw away the t-shirt.
- Confession: In the past, I've judged mothers who leave the mission field at home to go to the mission field abroad. My kids are the most important disciples God will ever assign to me. I'm called to steward my time with them well. Is it right to leave them to serve people I'll never see again?
- Finally, to go would be to leave others with the burden of caring for my kids. Could I ask such a thing after all they'd done for me while I was sick?
I asked God to give me assurance about going in the form of the most impossible thing I could think of--that my husband, Brandon Keaster, would not only allow but encourage me to go to Brazil without me making any attempt to convince him that he should. If God wanted me to go, He'd have to tell B, and He'd have to do it by March 26, which was the day Global Awakening began accepting applications for the trip.
I prayed to this effect day after day. Brazil was never mentioned by either of us.
One night near the middle of the fast, I'd almost convinced myself that God wasn't acting because it was wrong for me to leave the kids. Maybe I was sinning by even entertaining the thought. (Mom guilt is no joke.) And even if I wasn't, did I want to leave my kids for two weeks? (No.) Could I?
My eyes watered at the thought. I remembered how much those 10 days in Minnesota hurt.
I sat down with Micah and Sara at bedtime and opened the Bible to our place in the book of Mark (10:23-31). After a brief note from Jesus about how all things are possible with God, verses 29-30 read--
So Jesus answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time--houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions--and in the age to come, eternal life..."
Tears welled in my eyes. Jesus answered the concerns of my heart right out of his word in the exact moment of my need.
Afterward, I learned more about the kind of work Erica and I would be doing in Brazil. We'd partner with the local church to preach the gospel and pray for the sick. There would be no job stealing from the natives. I discovered Randy Clark isn't a one hit wonder kind of guy. His ministry, Global Awakening, has established roots in Brazil. Finally, I spoke with my parents, in-laws and grandmother. They agreed to help with the kids if God gave me the sign I asked for.
Only one thing remained. If Brandon woke one morning from a dream in which clouds parted, the sun shone, and a booming voice told him to ship me off to Brazil for two weeks, I knew the money would come. Money was a non-thing compared to what I'd asked.
But the days tripped along, one after another and Brandon said nothing.
To be continued...
Erica and I will be in Sao Paulo, Brazil September 22-October 4, 2016 with a team led by Randy Clark through his organization, Global Awakening. We invite you to partner with us financially in the mission to bring the Good News to all the world. Please make all checks payable to ChristSource Ministries, write "Brazil Mission Trip" in the memo, and mail to 301 E. Alabama Ave. Ruston, LA 71270 by July 14. ChristSource is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Your donation is tax-deductible. If you are unable to support us financially, please partner with us through prayer. Thank you!