“Thank-you for coming on the inside, for living among us, travelling as we do, eating as we eat.”
This came from one of the pastors after nearly two weeks of travel and ministry amongst ten churches spread over a wide area during my recent trip to Mozambique.
I am convinced that being on the inside is the only way to be in service to others.
By the time I’d arrived in Mozambique (after over 30 hours of travel) I already had a few clothes that needed washing. And as we were heading out for more travel within another day I took it upon myself to wash my clothes.
I was staying in a guest house that had running water and so it was fairly easy to in fact wash my own clothes. I had even brought some twine from home and so managed to hang them to dry.
The Mamma’s (the wives of all the gathering pastors) giggled and ooh’d and aah’d over this clothes washing. But later in the day Daniel came to me with a sincere apology from them that they’d not washed my clothes.
I was struck. My first misstep of the trip was washing my own clothes. Here I thought I was doing a favour but instead I was heaping shame and embarrassment. I made sure not to make that same mistake again. Rather, from there on I dutifully handed over my dirty laundry to Mamma.
Coming on the inside is an exercise in humility and requires great ease with one’s self. It requires trust in the human spirit and in the Lord’s direction and provision found through others.
In Luke 10 Jesus sends out the seventy-two and instructs them to enter towns, to stay with those who will keep them, to eat what they are fed, and to leave their peace to those who can receive it.
Right from the start of Capturing Courage’s international launch this has been the conviction of how we do what we are called to do. We do not enter a town and set up camp and say, “here we are come and see the great stuff we have for you” rather we come to visit and minister from the inside out.
Before ministering, before blessing, before encouraging, before healing, before wisdom, before prophecy, before praying, before anything, we arrive tired and in need of some basic care.
“Where is the toilet?”
And once some food is prepared we simply receive the hospitality afforded with due thanks. We shake many hands who have arrived to welcome. We sit and receive the stares of many who are intrigued and so delighted we are there. We smile our own greeting time and again.
We might then ask, “May I please lay down and sleep a bit?”
And everywhere we go, each place visited it is the same. Sit where I am sat, eat what I am given, smile and shake hands and affirm that ‘yes indeed!’ my own excitement of being there does match their own. We are on common ground and in good company together.
I am observed tired and hungry. I am walked to the toilets and given showers. I am cared for and fed. All before I ever open my mouth to share anything I might have from the Lord. First things first after all.
And then, by the time I am standing in front as the welcomed minister they’ve already seen that I am simply human like them. They’ve seen that I am as dependant on them as they might be on what I am about to speak.
The preaching and the praying, the wisdom and the prophetic words, are simply one small portion of the work as I travel. Perhaps 20%. The other part is in fact the coming on the inside.
It is the travelling as they travel, bouncing along in the back of trucks over rutted rattle-your-teeth-loose roads. It is sleeping at the train station just as many others are doing. It is being packed onto a motorbike with a couple others to get the last distance to our destination. It is making my butt fit into the eight-inch space left for me in the back of the bus (minivan packed with 20 people).
And what amazes me is how prepared I am for all this and how much I absolutely love it. The fellowship and camaraderie found on the inside is like nothing I can adequately describe. In this the Lord ministers to me profoundly. My own heart that has experienced so much loss and dysfunction relishes in these simple interactions that – thank God – are saved from pretence.
And I think this is what must mark any of our work and callings. Where are we simply glad to be on the inside? Where does our love extend past the inconveniences and difficulties?
You know, the Lord said that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. Where might that be for you?
For myself it has taken many years to get here. Primarily because it took this many years to eliminate the self-doubt, the lies I had believed, and the disqualifications that I held between myself and this work.
I still pinch myself at the amazing privilege and gift of this work.
Where might this be for you? What work are you called to that once you enter into it isn’t even work but rather a saving of self and deep fellowship and ministry to others?
But I suspect these are the wrong questions. For until we get there we cannot recognize this place. Rather, I will ask these questions:
What is the biggest disqualification that you are holding between yourself and what the Lord might call you to?
What are the deepest failures and regrets of your life? Where is your loss the most profound?
To what have you had the most sympathy, to whom are you drawn to help? Where do you keep tripping over yourself in your eagerness to assist? Where have you been most rejected in your attempts to help?
The answer to these questions is the same answer to those other questions.
Begin systematically and boldly removing the lies and the disqualifications that you so gladly hold up for all to see.
Put them down and begin the process of entering into work made just for you.