"Helen," he said quietly, looking straight ahead between the walls of elephant grass and over the central grass-tufted mound of the dirt-track road, "if you think you have come to the mission field because you are a little better than others, because you have more to offer through your medical training, or--" There was nothing censorious in his tone, yet his words cut deep into my heart. Was that the appearance that I had given to others, of a spiritual superiority, that I knew all the answers and would show them how the job should be done? Had I been so busy tackling the needs of the bodies of those who came for help, that I had little or no time, and no inclination to make time, for fellowship with other members of the team? Did I subconsciously feel that my service to the community through medicine would bring more people to the Savior than these others had done by years of patient trekking and preaching?
A wave of shame and a sense of failure came over me. I tried not to reply, as a sense of self-pity made itself felt. Why did they misunderstand me? Why did no one appreciate how much I needed fellowship and support? No one offered to help me, or relieve me on night duty. The "pity-poor-little-me" syndrome started early in my missionary career.
"Remember," Jack concluded, "the Lord has only one main purpose ultimately in each of our lives, that is to make us more like our Lord Jesus."
As we talked over the implications of what he was saying, he suggested to me that the next thing God wanted to do in my life to make more like Jesus, He could not do for me back in Britain, as I was too stubborn and wilful: so He had brought me to Africa, to work in me through Africans.
Another voice spoke quite clearly: "to make you realize and face up to this 'pity-poor-little-me' attitude and become real," and I turned my head away.
It all seemed such revolutionary teaching. So simple and childlike, it was nevertheless so profound and deeply disturbing. It put all "missionary" work into a new perspective and made me feel very small.
August 22, 2009
I am currently reading "Living Sacrifice" by Helen Roseveare and the passage I read last night reflects my personal journey this year, specifically in the area of sacrifice, surrender, and pride: