Some people think mission work makes you a better person, that somehow it puts you just that much closer to God and makes you immune to failure. Trust us – this is not the case. Cross-cultural workers struggle to live a God-honoring life as much as any Christ-follower, and they fall along the way just as many times.
Take a step back into the past with us a little and listen to Bob Carlisle.
Since we all walk the same path and deal with similar issues, we would do better if we depend on each other and, when we fall, to fall forward. Falling forward allows us to get up further down the road than when we fell.
There once was a couple of novice skiers who decided to take the lift up to a black diamond run. After falling on their faces getting off the ski lift, they stared down the steep slope wondering how they were ever going to get back to the lodge. Eventually they decided they must at least try, so they began using the best snowplow technique they could muster, only to fall within five yards of getting started. They got up, brushed each other off, and tried again with the same result. This quickly became discouraging, but they continued, cheering each other along the way, and even laughing from time to time. As they continued the seemingly never-ending trek, they noticed something: if they fell forward and allowed themselves to slide as far as possible, they made faster progress. Eventually, they arrived back at the lodge to warmth by a fire and something hot to drink.
No one likes to fail or to fall along the race. But if we are to finish, we must try to fall forward, get up, and continue, encouraging each other along the way.
Saul, later known as Paul, fell hard along his way. He thought he was serving God by persecuting the young church, until Jesus stopped him in his tracks on the road to Damascus. Blinded by the encounter, he was left at the house of Judas. Then God sent one of his people, Ananias, to visit Saul, heal his blindness, and encourage him. Saul got up and went from there on to become one of the greatest missionaries ever. That is falling forward. He had a lot to regret from his past, but was determined to press on to the goal which God had set before him.
No matter what part of the kingdom you find yourself working in, know that you are not alone. Encourage someone else and be willing to receive encouragement and help along your way. When you fall, and you will, fall forward, then get up and keep striving for the finish line. We will make it there … together!