“Unrepairable”

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I was driving up a steep hill when I felt my engine give a cough and start to splutter. My vehicle bucked and kicked its way up the incline and kept running, but after a few more hills and more internal gyrations the dreaded “Service Engine Soon” light came on right on the outskirts of town, a red beacon of doom.

My Buick Park Avenue — which I affectionately named “Miranda” upon purchase — has the soul of an old Southern belle just ready for the nursing home. While still grand and beautiful on the outside, Miranda’s internal organs are weak and failing. This isn’t the first time in our relationship that she’s needed repairs. Nor is it the second or third. I cannot begin to tell you how often that car has broken down. She’s stranded me at a shopping mall, stranded me in Kansas City, leaked coolant all over the engine, and blown hot air out of one vent while the other blew cold. I’ve replaced her steering column, replaced her coolant elbows, and now, in order for her to properly accelerate up hills, I need to replace something called a “solenoid.” My knowledge of the internal workings of cars is slowly increasing over time.

But even though Miranda’s condition has been diagnosed, and I have a friendly mechanic ready to perform surgery on her, I still have two problems. The first is money. This repair is going to be costly, a labor-intensive operation, and as a missionary who just gave up her reliable job at the coffee shop to prepare to go overseas, this expense couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Which leads to my second problem — God. Ok, scratch that. My problem isn’t really God. Sure, I’d like to think it is, but in reality, my problem is my own response to what God wants me to do. 

The moment my “Service Engine Soon” light blinked on, my immediate reaction was a mixture of fear, anger, and confusion. “That’s it! I’ve had it. I am so done with this car. I’ve poured tons of money into her, I’ve fixed every issue she threw my way. It’s never enough! I don’t know why You gave her to me, God, but You obviously made a mistake. I can’t afford to keep her, so it’s time I got rid of her.”

Yet, when I prayed about it later, I felt the Lord telling me to once again repair my car. 

I’ll admit that I cried. I felt frustrated and afraid. But an unexpected phone call from my missionary boyfriend brought some encouragement. “Maybe God has a story to tell through this,” he said.

So I prayed again, this time asking for understanding.

That’s when the Lord began to work on my heart. He showed me that I like things that are easy to fix. I find pleasure in quickly resolving an issue and moving on to something else.

What I don’t like, however, are things that are beyond my ability to fix. When something is unrepairable, I don’t even try. I reject it. I can’t be bothered. The fact that I’d tried so hard with Miranda only to fail again and again irritated me. If Miranda was just a piece of junk, then she wasn’t worth any more of my time and effort.

But that isn’t the way the Lord views things. He’s used to brokenness. He’s used to seeing “unrepairable” people, “unrepairable” relationships, and “unrepairable” churches. And unlike me, the Lord never gives up. He’s willing to keep working until a situation is fixed. He doesn’t get angry or call something a waste of time and money. Instead, He gave His most important, most valued object, His only Son, Jesus, for the sake of an “unredeemable” world. God didn’t give in part. He gave it all. 

As a missionary in the Czech Republic, I’m going to be faced with a lot of situations that seem “unrepairable.” I’m going to meet a lot of people who’ve been dubbed “unrepairable” by their friends. I’m going to be called to greater lengths of service and sacrifice to help these people than I can now comprehend. I’m going to want to give up. But the Father’s Heart doesn’t give up.

So once again, Miranda is being repaired. I’m stepping out in faith, trusting for provision and for her speedy recovery. Early next week I travel down to a mission conference near Kansas City. If Miranda is able to be fixed in time, then she and I have a lot of hilly territory to climb.

But even if she isn’t ready, I’ve learned an important lesson. God never gives up on the “unrepairable,” and, with His help, I’m not going to either.

The Missing Piece

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Hi, my name is Karna Steel, and my husband and I, along with our five boys, have been overseas on the mission field for twenty years now. We just celebrated our 25th year with Youth for Christ (YFC). Eleven of those years were spent working with a military youth ministry in Italy, and over the past eight years we helped establish YFC in the Czech Republic. We are looking forward to having Caity join our team of missionaries in the Czech Republic.

In the past few years my heart has been drawn more and more to the absolute need women have, especially those on the mission field, for community. Over the years I’ve made a lot of moves for ministry, and every time it’s been hard to start over again and re-establish myself in each new area.

I think “community” can mean different things to different people. For me, it means connection, the things which place us on a common ground together, whether it’s a common vision, being married with children, speaking the same language, or simply just loving chocolate.

There’s a quote by Brene Brown that really speaks to this:

A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.”

That’s some pretty powerful truth! Studies show that women are hardwired for friendship. When life becomes challenging, women seek out friendship with other women as a means of regulating stress levels. Men don’t necessarily need that to the same degree in their lives as women do. When a woman gets stressed, her natural response is to “tend and befriend,” which means that women instinctively tend to nurture others around them and reach out to others.

Women need community. We need to tell our stories, to process our emotional experiences with others, and to receive their aid in moving forward. As one article cited, “We need to build and maintain these important bonds to protect our physical and emotional well-being.” (The Huffington Post, 2013)

After being in the military ministry for ten years, I told my husband I was done. I was done seeking out friendships with other women because people were always transitioning in and out of my life and I felt like my heart was just raw and couldn’t take another good-bye.

He asked me, as he always does, “Have you prayed about it? The Lord isn’t afraid to hear your heart’s cry.”

So I told the Lord that I just couldn’t do it anymore. If He wanted me to have a friend, He was going to have to bring her to me and plop her right in front of me because I wasn’t going looking for her — and He did! I met a family at chapel the next week and found out they’d been relocated to Aviano even though her husband was in the army. I offered to watch her children for her while she received her household shipment, even though we didn’t know each other at all.

The next week, while I was sitting in a parking lot on base, she came up to the side of my van and asked me, “Do you want to be my friend?”

I told her that I just didn’t have it in me at the time, but she responded that it was okay, and that she’d do all of the work. And she did! That was the start of our intense but very short friendship. Nine months later we felt called to move to the Czech Republic, and her husband got orders to move back to Germany to the army base there. I’ll never forget our conversation while we were packing up my house. She said, “I’ll never understand why the Army moved us down here and uprooted our family for only nine months.”

“It was for me!” I told her. “You were the answer to my heart’s cry!”

While there are always positive things wherever you live, there are also hardships as well. Living cross-culturally has its own set of difficulties. When you add separation from family and friends to that mix, I’ve seen a lot of missionaries who’ve left the field early because it was just too hard for them. If they can’t establish community where they live, they cannot sustain life there. It’s just that simple and that difficult. Brene Brown, in her book “Daring Greatly,” said it quite succinctly, “Connection is why we’re here; it is what give purpose and meaning to our lives.” Please pray that Caity will find her place of ministry here in the Czech Republic, and that she will be able to make connections and find her community.

The Harder Option

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(A Guest Post, by Keifer Lucchi.)

Generally, we are taught that we have two choices when it comes to our fears. When our adrenaline kicks in, we have two decisions we can make — fight, or flight.

Our fears either drive us or paralyze us. They either become the force that pushes us on and on, or they are the reason we hide away and do nothing.

For me, fear is usually a driver. I fight with everything. I have to bring resolution to my fears and conquer them. I HATE loose ends. I hate it when there is something outside of my control that I can’t fix. If there is an area that I’m afraid of, I either fight to overcome that fear, or I remove it. I used to convince myself that this was the best choice, the brave choice, maybe. If my only two choices were to hide or fight, then fighting was the better one.

But there are some things that I can’t fight. No matter how hard I try and no matter what I do, there are things in this world that I simply can’t change. I’ve learned this more than ever since I moved to the Czech Republic. Suddenly, things that used to be simple were difficult. When I first got here, I found that activities like shopping for food and cooking were completely different. The “cheap and easy” meals that I knew how to make were suddenly not only expensive — some of them I couldn’t even find the ingredients for. I had to learn new ways to do things that had once been simple. I didn’t know what a good price was for something, or a bad price, or even what I could find. I had to learn to only buy what I could carry because I didn’t own a car. I had to learn how much I could NOT carry — sometimes through the process of dropping things on the ground several times in a row, feeling embarrassed as people walked by wondering why this weird American couldn’t take care of himself.

I learned that I had to ask people for help to do simple tasks, like starting a bank account, getting directions, and teaching a class. And because of the language difference, just talking to someone and trying to be a friend suddenly became extremely hard.

Even staying in the Czech Republic and being allowed to live here was hard. And you know what? I learned that no matter how hard I fought, and worked, and did all of the things I needed to do, there were still things that I didn’t know, didn’t expect, and couldn’t handle. And it KEPT happening. No matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t strong enough to fight all of the battles I needed to fight. Suddenly, more than anything else, I just wanted to hide. I wanted to disappear.

I mean, if fight or flight are the only options, then flight was my only other choice.

The Bible actually doesn’t agree with this.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV).

Wait, so which is better? Fight or flight? If you take verse 28 by itself, it sounds like Jesus is saying to give Him your trouble, and leave all the work to Him. But the very next verse talks about taking on His yoke. It also says that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

That doesn’t sound like fight or flight to me. I think that, in reality, there is a third option, a harder option.

Rest.

Now, I’m sure we’re all thinking a little sleep sounds fantastic, especially after a long week, but that isn’t what Jesus is talking about. He’s talking about a different kind of rest. “Rest for your soul.” This means having confidence in the fact that God will take care of us, even when we don’t know how He will do it. This kind of rest can only be found when we give our burdens to Jesus and trust Him to only give us the new burdens we can handle and carry. Every day we give Him our worries, our fears, and the impossible things in our lives, and every day He gives us what we need to carry for that day. He takes care of the rest.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 ESV).

Wait. Stop. It sounds like Jesus is saying that we are going to have problems if we follow Him. But He wants us to have peace even when we experience those problems. We are supposed to know that He has already overcome the world.

Not exactly easy. I still have so many problems with this sort of attitude. And, it turns out, so did Jesus’ disciples.

“One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side of the lake.’ So they set out, and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. And they went and woke him, saying, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, ‘Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?’” (Luke 8:22-25 ESV)

Let’s look at what happens in this story. Jesus tells the disciples where they are going, and that He is going with them. Often this is how He sets us on the journey as well.

As the journey goes on, Jesus falls asleep. He gets quiet. The disciples aren’t hearing his voice at the moment. Unless, of course, Jesus snored.

Then the storm comes, and the disciples start to think that maybe Jesus won’t save them after all. The waves get bigger, the wind gets louder, and soon they aren’t looking at Jesus at all. They’re looking at the waves. Jesus, on the other hand, is fully at peace in the storm.

When I first came to the Czech Republic, it was sort of like this. I heard Jesus’ voice telling me to “go across to the other side of the lake.” The lake was bigger, but we have airplanes now, so I wasn’t too worried. I came because I believed, and still believe, that there are people in the Czech Republic who need to know love like the love of Jesus. I believe that God loves each of you individually. I came knowing it would be hard, but that there are frightened people in the Czech Republic who God wants to know, and walk with, and bring peace to.

And, in the end, I’m the frightened one most of the time. I see the waves and hear the wind just like the disciples, and say, “Jesus! Save me! I’m going to drown!”

But Jesus has never let me drown once.

And He won’t let you drown either.


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Keifer is starting his second year as a missionary in the Czech Republic, and he couldn’t be more excited. His ministry to youth and his media ministry are expanding, and his grasp of the Czech language has only gotten stronger. Add in time with friends and ministry “family” and you get just a glimpse of how busy his week is. And yet he still finds opportunities to learn and grow and rest in the Lord. This blog post is adapted from a sermon he recently gave.