This week’s ROOM contributor is Bekah Holten. Bekah serves as a ROOM volunteer in many different facets. She has served as a caregiver in our transition home, as a respite care provider for many of our foster families, a fundraiser, a teacher, and as support staff in orphanages. Bekah pushes herself to excellence in every area of her life; she has traveled fearlessly, studied diligently, and ran endlessly. We are thankful to have her as part of our ROOM family. This blog touches an issue that many missionaries have struggled with at some point: re-entry.
As my time in Honduras neared an end, I began praying for direction. I wanted a job where I could feel fulfilled; one that would allow me to stay in the U.S. and fulfill my dream of a cute little apartment with view of nearby mountains. However, God made an investment in me when I went to Honduras. He sent me to the mission field with a strong faith which was nurtured by many spiritual mothers and mentors, bible studies, and sermons. While on the mission field, He provided for me and blessed me. Then I returned home. I felt strongly that God was looking for the return investment for all He had poured into me. I questioned myself daily: How would I go about returning what was invested? How would I transition back into life in America fully, while also continuing to share what I learned from the mission field? I felt strongly that He wanted something else of me.
I believe this way of looking at re-entry from mission work isn’t wrong, but it was skewed in my brain. I felt like a tool used by the Lord, rather than a daughter of a father who deeply loved me. Once again I was placed in a position where I felt I needed to rise to the occasion and prove myself to others.
Genesis 22:17-18 says “I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” Because Abraham obeyed the Lord to the point of offering his only son from his most loved wife as a sacrifice, he was promised abundant blessings and in return he was able to bless. I was blessed with the opportunity to go to college and learn Spanish so I could serve in the hospital by Anthony’s side (a toddler in the care of ROOM’s transition home who battled childhood leukemia), be more effective in the orphanages and create stronger relationships with the people I served. I believed my returning was another call to action. I had seen the injustices and I had experienced loss first-hand, now what was I going to do to make a difference?
This call to action was suppose to make me feel closer to God. More connected to the servant heart of God, but all it did was left me feeling empty and abandoned by the very One with whom I wanted to feel closest. I related closely to the words of Mother Teresa, “In my soul I feel just that terrible pain of loss, of God not wanting me, of God not being God, or God not really existing.” An article I read in The Washington Post said “In time, Mother Teresa began to understand these feelings of God’s absence as a way of identifying with Jesus’s feelings of abandonment on the cross and also as a way of entering more deeply into union with the poor, who also often feel abandoned.”
Could God really use this feeling of being unwanted to further my relationship with Him? Was he less interested in using me as a tool to help others, but rather drawing me closer to His heart? I would love to tell you I have the answer to this, but I don’t think an answer is what I will receive; rather, I believe it will be daily devotion and obedience like that of Abraham’s that will bring me closer to the heart of God. We are the closest to God when we obey him and obedience isn’t a life of service but rather a life of devotion. John 14:21 says, “Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.” After leaving the mission field I felt distant from God, I desired Him to reveal himself to me and his plan for my life, but I didn’t know how to communicate with Him. I clung to this verse that if I obey His commandments He will reveal himself to me, but I missed a major part. I missed the part that involved my loving Jesus. I knew Jesus was sovereign and real, but I doubted his goodness and therefore his love for me.
Today, I am back on the mission field in a different capacity. I am teaching English at the bilingual school Abundant Life Christian Academy in Yamaranguila, Honduras. This opportunity to serve, once again, is a blessing and a challenge. Each day I am forced to look to the Lord for guidance as to how to teach these young minds while pouring the love of Christ into them. I am challenging myself to make drawing near to the heart of the Lord my first priority and then out of the abundance of the love the Lord has for me, let that overflow to my students.
If you know of a missionary transitioning from the mission field, please consider reaching out to them during this tough time of reflection. More than likely they will need compassion and patience as they process all that they have seen and experienced.
If you would like to contribute to ROOM’s orphanage care programs please visit our Razoo Page.
Or by mailing a check to Reach Out Orphanage Ministries to PO Box 5882, Concord NC 28027. All donations are tax deductible