Have you ever bought a book that was so outstanding you wanted to buy your friends a copy? This last month I order the book “The Broken Way” by Ann Voskamp and found it to be packed full of so many wonderful messages. It has been so good that I located my yellow highlighter and began to mark some awesome passages that really hit home for me. I am almost finished and want to recommend it to everyone who loves to read. I cannot wait to order her other books next and devour them like I did this one.
Some of her stories caused me to think of my own brokenness over this past year. A little over a year ago we left behind people we had spent years ministering while missionaries in Belize. It was so hard selling all our possessions and saying good-bye to very special friendships, but God had impressed on our hearts to close this chapter of our lives and move back to Canada. It seems like transitions are always hard to make, and for almost three months we had no home of our own, only living with friends and traveling to the supporting churches closing our ministry with them. There are times when I cried over and over, “why can’t we have a place of our own NOW”!!! It is always so hard living with families who have their own routines and habits and then trying to fit in helping with dishes, cleaning, cooking meals to not be a burden to them. I am a person who likes my own space and quiet but there was none for a very long time.
It was hard breaking into the circles of church people and find our own place, and in some ways, it never really happened. It always felt like they were making room for us, but we were not in the inner circle to participate in extra things. After having very meaningful relationships in Belize, there was this huge hole in our hearts wanting to minister and yet not finding our opportunity. We always felt this twinge of jealousy that they could belong, but we could not.
After about 6 months, we realized why connections did not become deep. God was calling us to continue in ministry and we would again be moving. Where?????? Around Christmas we began to hear from camps that wanted help and we finally made the decision to come to Salem Acres. Again, it was another huge move for us leaving Ontario and coming to Alberta in the dead of winter. What were we thinking??!!!!!!! Once again, we felt the huge loneliness of leaving our family behind. Shortly after arriving Jim became very sick with that cold/flu that was going around. We never slept well for several weeks because he sounded like Croup and was so tired all the time. Just when he was starting to feel better, he fell on the ice and cracked his ribs so when he coughed, he would cry. So many times, I would fall to my knees crying to the Lord to give me strength to deal with all the changes plus a sick husband. I would go out on the deck shoveling snow trying to work out some of my utter frustrations and emotions. Our transition in coming to Alberta was much harder than we anticipated. There have been so many times that I asked God, “What do you want from me?” OR, “I am not enough to do this job!”
One quote by Paul Miller that Ann Voskamp used in her book was: The very thing we are afraid of, our brokenness, is the door to our Father’s heart. The reality is that I do not like being broken, but God always has a better agenda. He knows when we need brokenness to bring us into intimacy of His heart. Truly, isn’t that what we want most as believers? We want that powerful connection. The truth is that we don’t like the route suffering takes because it means giving up control to the uncontrollable.
Ann wrote profound words when she says, “Suffering quietly begs us to surrender so we’ll win a greater freedom, a deeper strength, a closer intimacy. Suffering says we cannot bear under this cross alone---we can only bear it if we can bear depending on others, bear the vulnerability and intimacy of koinonia. We can bear depending on Him.”
Those words are so true. Now that we have been here in Alberta for several months, the adjustments have become new adventures, experiences, and new relationships. We look forward to this year’s summer camps and seeing how God uses us. We are so grateful for all the prayers, encouragement, and hospitality that helped us in this new beginning. What a joy it is to continue our service to the Lord even in our Senior Days.
Photo by Gozha Net on Unsplash
Lois and her husband Jim returned to Canada a year ago after spending 18 . years in ministry in Belize. While in Belize Lois loved to teach skills to youth and local women. She taught sewing classes, cooking and baking classes, and cake decorating to a few women who could afford to buy their own supplies. These skills along with solid Bible teaching and ladies Bible studies were her greatest joy. Jim and Lois were able to establish a church which is still running on its own. Camp work has had a huge impact on their lives and is one of the passions that they have always cherished and now they are wanting to give back here at Salem Acres Bible Camp.