“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. Mark 10:29-30
Right now, I feel like I am living these verses. Allow me to elaborate…
Yesterday we celebrated American Thanksgiving at the Base with all of the SI-DR staff, missionaries, and their families. It was a good old fashioned turkey dinner, complete with green bean casserole and sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top.
It was hilarious to hear Raul translating the various dishes into Spanish! Especially when he said we had ‘turkey pie’ for dessert. I guess pumpkin sounded a bit like ‘pavo’ (the Spanish word for turkey).
As I looked around the room, I thought about the missionaries with whom I serve. Some gathered had left lucrative careers, homes they had lived in for years, pensions, access to excellent schools for their children. All had left the comfort and convenience of living in a First World country. All had left their church families, and most, part of their biological families, too. Parents, siblings, children, and, hardest of all, grandchildren.But, filling the room there was laughter bursting out. There was conversation – in English, Spanish and Spanglish! There was fun and fellowship and cameras taking pictures. There was… Family. Yes, we had left behind quite a lot, but, oh, how God has provided! I went home feeling full. Full of amazing food, but even more, full of thanks to God for His blessings.
We had today as a day off, and I spent it in Mata de Platano, the community where Carlos, his parents and other family, live. It’s also where we teach English two nights a week. Carlos’ sister, Yineth (I’m 100% sure I misspelled that!), and another friend, Margot, invited me to come and learn how to bake bread and ginger galletas (kind of a cross between bread and a cookie).Communities like theirs have ‘open door’ policies - if the front door is open, come on in! So, there was a steady stream in and out all afternoon. Margot was getting ready for an aunt and uncle visiting from New York, so along with teaching me, she and another woman were preparing a feast. She didn’t make me feel like I was in the way, she just let me be there, hanging out.
As I leaned up against the kitchen counter trying to follow the various conversations, I once again felt full. Full of delicious sweet, strong coffee and samples of the galletas, but also full of thanksgiving. Even though this small, poor home was filled with people who are very different from me, who I still have a hard time understanding, they have accepted me and made me part of their family.And, because God is amazing, Margot invited us to join them for dinner. Full on top of full!!
I love those verses in Mark because they help me remember that as long as I am serving Jesus, there will be plenty of blessing. And, plenty of persecution. Oh, shoot.The promises Jesus has given are true, even the parts we’d rather not be! While I don’t feel I have undergone true persecution yet, I have experienced discouragement and frustration, mocking and hard hearts, as well as spiritual warfare. As long as I am serving Jesus, I can expect Satan to oppose me. If he doesn’t, well, that’s more concerning than if he does!
The hundred times as much cannot compare to what is awaiting us next. Eternal life, when there will be no more partings or deaths or persecution or sadness. We will be one big family, adopted children of the King, bought by the blood of Christ.It would be enough to have the promise of that eternal life. But, our amazing God has promised blessings here on earth as well. This Thanksgiving weekend has reminded me of just how blessed I am.
Yes, I left a lot of those I love to come and follow His call. It hasn’t always been easy, and at times I still get lonely and homesick. But, oh, how He loves us! Although I miss my family and friends, God is faithful, and has provided so much more than I could have ever asked or even imagined. A hundred times as much. What a God we serve!