“And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.'” Mark 8:34-35 [NASB]
Sarah prayed at length over her role on the mission trip to Botswana. While deciding whether or not to go, she thought and prayed about the possibility of death. She thoughtfully and prayerfully counted the cost and deemed it worthy. She told us before she left that no matter the outcome she knew God had called her to it. My child counted the cost and was willing to lay her life down to share the gospel with the Tswana people because she was confident God was calling her to go. Our hearts and lives are forever intertwined with the Tswana people through Sarah’s life. Recognizing this compelled us to direct a portion of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering collected in Sarah’s name toward Botswana specifically.
Scott, Katelyn, Kristen, Sophie and I are excitedly and fervently praying about the opportunity to go on a short mission trip to Botswana. At first the idea of going to Botswana as a family was just a thought I mentioned almost in passing to Scott. After talking and praying about it, though, it progressed from just a thought to a strong interest. We asked one of our MZBC ministers to pray about the possibility of leading us on a trip there, which he graciously agreed to do. We committed to continue to pray about it as well, asking God to continue to open doors if this is the direction He is leading or to close them if we are misunderstanding His leading.
While at the IMB we learned some of the greatest opportunities for ministry in Botswana are among children and college aged people. My passion is college ministry, Scott and I have been serving with our college students for several years now and love them deeply. Katelyn, Kristen and Sophie have been active serving in children’s and student ministry as well. Katelyn feels called to minister to children through teaching, and will complete her degree in elementary education in December. Realizing the greatest ministry opportunities directly align with the passions God had already set in our hearts as a family quickly fanned the flicker of interest into a flame of longing.
We don’t desire to go to simply observe or experience what Sarah would have. Rather, we long to be the hands and feet of Christ to the people God called our child to be willing to lay her life down for. We want to hug the Tswana children and tell them how our child loved them enough to be willing to die to share with them the love of the Savior who died and rose again for them. Scott, as a loving father, wants to share with the fatherless of Botswana the heart of a father who deeply loves his children, and in so doing relate the love of The Father to them. We want to stand among the Christians of Botswana and encourage them He is worthy of passionate and diligent pursuit. We want to implore them to be people of the Word, to dig deep in study, to know truth and flush out untruths. We long to come alongside the Turner family to love and encourage them as they pour out their lives in ministry there. Greater than all of these longings, though, is our longing to be obedient to God’s leading. If He is calling us to go, we are so very excited to go. But if not, we want to be obedient to Him still, and will set aside our longing to go if He so leads.
We are continuing to pray for God to clearly guide us. We are moving forward in planning and preparation and will trust Him to show us if we are moving in the wrong direction. We have begun saving for the trip, and the profits from the current t-shirt sale will be held in an account for this purpose. If God closes the door to our going to Botswana we will donate the funds through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Either way we are thankful and confident that God will be honored and Christ will be shared.
“He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” John 12:25-26 [NASB]