I recently received this e-mail from a family friend, Anne Marie Musgrove, a young woman who along with her husband, Chris, has chosen a life of service to the Lord. They are only home for a few months - long enough to have a baby. They plan to take his passport photo on the day he’s born, and when they receive it back (maybe four weeks more), they’ll return to China where they’ve been for the past two years working with college age students sharing the gospel of Christ.
Dear friends and family,
I wanted to share a snippet of my heart with you and two reasons why it is heavy this morning. I went walking a while ago, like many other mornings, which serves as a great time for me to think / process life / pray / etc. Towards the end of my walk, for some reason reality began to sink in for the first time of what is going to happen in a few short weeks. We are about to have a baby… and then shortly after take that new born on a 15 hour plane ride across the world. My mind kept playing scenarios of what the day is going to be like when me, Chris and Maddox say goodbye to our support system here and board the plane at the Birmingham airport… I got really sad. Not necessarily because I am afraid to take baby Maddox to China or that I don’t think that with God we can handle living in a 3rd world country as first time parents with a new born. It was more of, hey this is gonna be so much harder than I have let myself admit, and now I’m admitting it. I felt so overwhelmed at that moment. As my train of thought was ending, I rounded the corner and as I looked up I saw an Asian mother with her little girl walking toward me. I began to weep uncontrollably. All at once I felt the weight of a lost nation desperate to hear about the saving power of Christ. It was like God put those two people in front of me to put everything in perspective… to remind me and reassure me of his calling in mine and Chris’s life, regardless of how uncomfortable or difficult it is or will be. This is what I want my life to be about… dying to myself and my ultimate comfort to bring others life.
I totally believe that the Lord is completely sufficient for our journey ahead. (and is even okay with me having occasional breakdowns…as he is faithful to remind me of truth.)
But, as tears kept coming I began to think about the magnitude of what has to happen for us to even be able to return to China – the place we feel that God has called us for the time being. How in the world are we going to raise almost $2000 more monthly in the next 2 months? To be honest, right now it seems impossible. BUT, I know that we serve a faithful King who provides for his children, and has provided for Chris and me for a long time.
I write this to you as my closest friends and family so that you would pray with us that in the next 2 months we would see our support come in and that we would continue to trust in God’s provision for us as we take Maddox to China.
“This is what I want my life to be about… dying to myself…”
Let the words of this sweet 20-something-year-old girl and first time mom sit on your heart for just a minute.
“I totally believe that the Lord is completely sufficient for our journey ahead.”
I’ve been reading Hole in the Gospel by Richard Stearns, President of World Vision, lately, and in it Stearns reminds us over and over again that we are to be the hands and feet and mouth and heart and every other bodily part of Christ in this world.
Some will be called to far away places like Anne Marie and Chris, and some, like Rick and me, will be called to battle here at home, but I’ve seen what it’s like in some of these far away places. In Stearn’s book he tells the story of a woman named Margaret who was maimed during an attack on her village by rebel’s in Uganda. While they hacked Margaret’s friends to death with machetes, they let her live because she was pregnant, yet they cut off her nose, ears, and lips and left her to die. She lived and had her baby, James.
Stearns writes that for most of us, “There is nothing in our frame of reference that allows us to understand such brutality.” While that is true, there is something in my “frame of reference” that sees what Margaret may have looked like after that attack. I saw a woman in India at the Mother Teresa Center for Death and Dying who didn’t have a nose or eyes. When I first saw her, I thought maybe she had leprosy since that is still a common disease in India even though great strides have been made toward wiping it out. But, when we saw a baby on the subway whose face was mutilated, someone in our party explained that the baby had probably had acid thrown in his face by a jealous boyfriend or husband.
That made me think of the woman with no eyes or nose and wonder what had really happened to her. I have to say that I don’t agree with some of what is written in Stearns’ book. I think he writes from his own experience and from what he has seen. I believe he writes from his own heart, but I do agree with him that the church in America has to wake up and see their role in this world. We are blessed beyond measure. “Our cup runneth over.” I believe God has blessed us in this way in order to help others. If we can help someone else, why wouldn’t we? If we can share the gospel of Christ, why wouldn’t we? If we could give, isn’t that what we should do?
There is much suffering in this world. We all suffer, and we can’t compare suffering. My heart breaks everyday not only because of my own loss but also because I have seen real evil in this world. My heart breaks over the sin and suffering and pain not just in India or in China but also for the girl in Helena who has had her only child ripped from her arms. It’s overwhelming when you think about the fallen state of our world and what it could be and will be one day. The contrast is too great to really even comprehend, a world without evil, sin, or death… We’ve never seen that, but we will if we continue in faith, love, and holiness as we eagerly await our Savior. One day our faith will become sight, but it takes endurance and patience in order to wait that out. But, as we wait, let us not be idle, and when our Lord comes for us, let Him find us doing all that He has bid us do.
Let me blow your mind one more time. Think about this… In spite of all the pain and suffering that goes on in this world that none of us is immune to, God’s way is perfect. He does absolutely no wrong. All His ways are good and perfect and just.
So many ask, “How can a good God let this or that go on?” But, I say maybe the answer is… TO GIVE YOU A PURPOSE. If you see devastation and ask, "How can God… ?" maybe you need to ask yourself, "How can I… ?"
“Trust and obey,” the hymn says, “for there is no other way.”
God has made each of us for a purpose. Maybe the dying woman in India was made to receive my compassion, and I was made to give it. The giver nor the receiver is better in God’s eyes, but He has caused it to be so according to His will and His good purpose that we may never see, know, or understand.
I know a woman who adopted a little boy who had been so severely abused by his biological mother that he is paralyzed from the waist down. That happened in Mississippi. But, even in the life of this beautiful woman who took this handicapped boy into her life and heart and made him her own, life wasn’t perfect, and she was not immune to marital problems and even divorce.
Life here on earth stinks sometimes, and all of it weighs heavily on me at times. I don’t like it, but God has shown me that I must endure. I can’t leave my wall halfway built. I’ve got to keep building, climbing, reaching ever higher. It’s hard. The way of the Lord isn’t an easy one. When we choose to follow Christ, we follow Him wherever He takes us. He’s taking Anne Marie and Chris to China, and they are dependent on Him for everything.
But, if Christ lives in us… they are dependent on us.
If they are willing to go, then we should be willing to send them.
I’m asking you to join me in sending Anne Marie and Chris and little Maddox to China. Anne Marie and Chris work for an organization that requires them to be at full support before they leave. They will not allow them to go to China with their newborn unfunded, and they must raise their own support.
If you would like to be a part of spreading the good news of the gospel to the future leaders of China, please help Anne Marie and Chris raise the money they need to go back.
Click on my blog link titled "Send Anne Marie and Chris Musgrove to China." This will take you straight to their giving page. Their names may not be on the page, but 0544888 is their staff account number which is what comes up. Anything given here will go into their staff account. When you click on "give a gift," it will take you to a page where you can type in the amount and whether you want to give one time, monthly, etc.
Thanks for caring, sending, loving, supporting, praying, giving, going…
But, most of all thank you for being in love with God and for answering His call to action. I know this has not been a first for you, and I know it will not be the last my dear friends and brothers and sisters in Christ.
I pray for compassion to continue to dwell in our hearts for all people and for God’s strength for the battle.
With love and hope and faith,