We just got back from the annual OMF Taiwan field conference. It is when all the OMF missionaries serving in Taiwan gather to be trained & challenged, to share what’s going on in our ministries, to encourage one another, and most importantly to worship & pray together.
I remember our first field conference, just a couple months after arriving in Taiwan, was a bit stressful because we were still very new. We were still in culture shock. There were so many aspects with which we were unfamiliar. Last week, as my family and I were travelling to the camp site we talked about the past field conferences and couldn’t believe this was the 4th one for us. There are still many things we don’t know and are trying to discover, but this conference was definitely not as stressful as our first. It was enjoyable, encouraging & empowering to say the least. We had met only about 15 of the 60 or so OMF missionaries before we arrived at our first conference, but we quickly got to meet many more missionaries who had been here for decades and hear their inspiring stories. Along the way through our time in Taiwan we had more opportunities to meet them and hear more of their stories. We are grateful for our colleagues, our fellow missionaries who are running this race with us. Most importantly we praise & worship the Holy One who has graciously led us to this point in time. God’s power is truly made more visible in our weaknesses.
People have so many different ideas of what a missionary is. I was thinking about how I would like to define it based on what I’ve seen & experienced with these missionaries who have served so long. A missionary is one who willingly puts oneself and his/her family where the spiritual battle is fiercest, trusting in the prayer support of saints back home, believing in the power & sovereignty of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ to overcome all things, so that some lost can be found & saved.
Every year at field conference, we had to say goodbye to people retiring after many years of serving on the mission field. This year we said goodbye to a Swiss missionary who will be retiring after 39 years. As we said goodbye in the parking lot of the camp site, she told us an old proverb. She said,
“You can count the seeds in an apple, but you can’t count how many apples will come out of those seeds.”
I hope these words encourage you as it did us to give all in sharing Christ, knowing that He will bring fruition. Although our works for the Lord can sometimes appear to be quite humble in nature and progress can be quite slow, it is exciting to know that our labor on the harvest field will never be in vain. The time will come when all of us, missionaries & partners, will be standing together at the orchard full of “apples” praising God who is gracious & glorious!