One year ago today I resigned as a missionary from the IMB to pastor a church.
I'm not sad I resigned; a little melancholy, perhaps.
I first started with the Board in 1989 when I was appointed under Keith Parks as a Journeyman to Hong Kong. During that time, I helped to plant a church in Kowloon, New Hope Baptist Church. I was honored when the church planting team agreed on my suggestion for the name of the church, for at that time, (pre-1997) no one knew what the future of HK held with China looming overhead. Everyone was afraid and had lost hope.
It is fitting that I ended my missionary "career" in Hong Kong. After a tour in West Africa, then in East Asia, we transferred to Hong Kong. I honestly thought that we would retire with the Board and become "Emeritus", but God had other plans.
Most of our missionary service was "support". Not a very glamorous position, but necessary nonetheless. We considered ourselves to be like Aaron and Hur, providing support to Moses has he did what God called him to do.
We loved serving in West Africa. Africa is like a huge goldfish bowl where missionaries are the fish. It is like that to some degree in Asia, but it is much more severe in Africa. We experienced so much in our first term there. God transformed us and He used us. He allowed us to serve in both little and big ways. I pray that He found us faithful.
Then civil war.
We left the land and people we loved and followed God to Thailand. Again, we had a service of service. No glamor, unless you like being in AGM videos (which I secretly did). [OK, perhaps not SECRETLY!] The work there was email intensive. I joked that "I used to be a missionary, but now I answer email for a living". That wasn't far off. But what we did, and what they still do, is extremely important to keep the mission machine working.
If you have a missionary to speak in your church and they say something like "well, I"m only in support missions" or some other nonsense like that, please do your best to affirm them and encourage them in their work. I would rather be found faithful doing what I was called to do, than the alternative. Wouldn't you?