Not a roadblock!

When our plans, those plans God clearly opened up before us, get interrupted, we tend to react to it as to a roadblock.

Then we might reflect spiritually, and say, “Ah, God must want to teach me something here.” He always wants to do that, right?

But what if he has something else that is for us alone to do, wherever it is we have been roadblocked? Even though it might be half a world away from the ministry / country / job / you-name-it that we think of as ours?

Our ‘roadblocks’ might be a short-lived nuisance. One mission partner regularly had to go in and out of his difficult access country where visas were only given (or not) when people arrived at the border. The first time, it was a struggle to remain calm and polite when he was subjected to hours of politically -motivated hold-up and interrogation; his only prayer: “Lord, give me the visa”.

The next time going through it dawned on him to look around and see who else was being detained. Who needs an encouraging word or intercessory prayer in this holding area? Maybe even the soldiers and officials. His thought became, ‘Can I see what Jesus is up to in this inhospitable place and can I join in?’ So, a learning experience and a chance to serve — that place any of us is in right now.

Or perhaps the obstruction is something really big. A global pandemic? A good number of our mission partners have been held up or restricted in movement often under trying conditions, either in New Zealand or in their country of service.

Here’s a good example of how radically changed circumstances can be a catalyst rather than a roadblock: A couple returned to New Zealand from their overseas posting sooner than they originally planned.

They moved to a typical, small,  Kiwi community and settled in. But to imagine that they had left their mission work behind on the far side of the world would be mistaken. Here they are, doing the same work in Aotearoa.

“Overseas, the first step in evangelism was always relationship-building, which required time; here that is the same!” they explain.

“The main thing is leading off with prayer, identifying those God has called you to and placed around you, and then being intentional about forming relationships with those we feel called to. Visiting, hospitality in our home, gifts and time listening to their stories all have helped us do this.

“We have been taking a child to church with us and slowly her mum is opening up as well now. We have been very intentional about what we are using our time for- more time spent with non-Christians than with Christians. We have been praying and thinking on strategy: how can we best love and reach these people for Jesus? How can we identify and relate to them as opposed to being stand-offish, weird and religious? How can we be real, building trust and deep conversation around the things that really matter in life?”

And this is the same for any of us, any season: autumn/spring, youth/age, drought/flood, visa red-tape/green-light, or pandemic.

— Zoë Cromwell