Tuesday, April 24, 2012

HMA - A Blessing, Not Prison Sentence

Our current missionary status is "Home Ministry Assignment" or HMA. Essentially, that's a missionary furlough. We're here in the United States raising support until we're fully funded and can return to Honduras. To us (and maybe to some of you too) it sometimes feels like we're in waiting to get sprung from the pokey by some rich uncle we didn't know died last month.

But if we take God at His word (and that's always a prudent way to go), then He has some purpose for this time in our ministry (Jer. 29:11). Obviously, missions takes money. But God is not poor and if He wanted to resurrect that rich uncle to bail us out, He could. So money must not be the ultimate goal, right? Then why are we still here? 

Well, here's 10 ways we believe God is using this HMA:
  1. To give us time to prepare. Both Steve and I have had the opportunity to attend Bible classes that have allowed us to grow spiritually and will enable us to better minister to the people of Honduras.
  2. To draw us closer to one another. I've learned that staying engaged with Nick has been much easier now that I'm not away at work all the time. Even though he's growing up fast, I can't think of a better time in his life than his teenage years to be available to him. How great it is to be able to pick him up from school and ask how his day was!
  3. To allow us to build relationships with others. We learned quite unexpectedly how important it is for a missionary to have strong partner relationships while away in the field. We really missed out on the encouragement, support and comfort that these friendships provide--and we're not about to make that mistake again!
  4. To build our prayer support. Almost every day we meet people that want to pray for us and the ministry of El Sembrador. Not only is that encouraging, it's vital!
  5. To teach us to depend on Him. Nothing teaches faith like having no income, no work and no place to live. We have been so blessed and we have no reason to fear that He'll back down now.
  6. To let us serve the church. We understand that the true purpose of the church is not to feed the flock but to bring in more sheep. A missionary relationship can help hold the church accountable to the Great Commission. More than that, we give each and every person we talk to real opportunities to become personally involved in missions.
  7. To be blessed by the church. We've really come to appreciate our home church and the churches we visit. Trust me, there's nothing like hearing the Word taught in your native language. And we've been overwhelmed by the support and service these churches have shown our family
  8. To minister to others. We've been giving so many opportunities to minister in so many ways. From teaching ESL to participating in the annual bike ride for camp and everything in between, we've been privileged to serve in our own country alongside our own people--and who can complain about that!
  9. To give Nick a real high school experience. Since we homeschool Nick when we're in Honduras, this time has given him a chance to enjoy the life other teens might take for granted. And he's not letting the opportunity go to waste! High school plays, marching band, driver's ed and his active youth group keep him pretty busy.
  10. So we can be with our family. We've really felt God's hand in the timing of this HMA when it comes to being with our family. We've finally spent a little time with a niece we barely knew and gotten to spend quality time with our parents. We've been able to grieve losses and celebrate marriages together. Knowing that we won't always have these opportunities while in the field, we have been truly blessed by this precious time with our family.
So when we stop imagining of this time as the prison sentence we have to serve before we're the bars clank open and we're finally free to return to ministry, we can appreciate it as the true blessing that it really is and praise God for His divine plans.

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