MY FIRST MISSION FIELD
This week the staff of Deer Flat Church went together to tour MAF Headquarters in Nampa, ID. Our tour guide was a man named Gene, who has been a part of MAF for 45 years! We learned of missions as we toured the facilities, offices, hangars, and saw a variety of interesting items such as flight simulators, and airplanes in pieces or in different stages of being repaired.
One item of interest was the displayed wreckage of Nate Saint’s plane from Ecuador where he and four other missionaries were speared to death in an attempt to reach a jungle people group with the gospel. The movie “End of the Spear” was a telling of this true story. Many books have been written about these men, their faithfulness to reaching the lost, and the families they left behind including the book “Through Gates of Splendor” by Jim Elliot’s wife Elisabeth. Years later people went to recover what was left of the wreckage in hopes of finding and restoring the plane’s engine for missions. Some of what they found is there at MAF.
As our guide spoke, his presentation at each stop was laced with personal stories and information from a lifetime of not just being a missionary, but being a missionary with MAF his whole life. When we think of our lives, maybe we have moved a lot, been to a dozen different schools, or switched jobs so many times we can’t even count. It can feel like we don’t have a mission field or one consistent enough to make any kind of difference.
One truthful concept I’ve learned and been reminded of many times is that my family is my first mission field and priority. In Paul’s letter of 1 Timothy he writes this teaching, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” This pointed verse can appear harsh, but I want us to find it encouraging. Family first. Family first in time, in prayer, in attention, in communication. Family is supposed to be our first school, church, and community. Family is our first ministry, priority, and mission field.
I know many people get frustrated and burnt trying to evangelize their family members, sometimes they are just too close with too many obstacles to be the ones who reap the harvest. But with that same closeness they can plant seeds, they can water, they can pray, and serve, and bless, and lavish upon them generosity, patience, grace in ways no one else can because of that same closeness. Family is a lifelong mission field and sometimes you’re the missionary and sometimes you’re the field.
I encourage all of us to renew our efforts to minister to our spouses, kids, grandkids, cousins, nieces, nephews, our siblings, and our in-laws. Reach out and love your family…even the ones you don’t like that much!
Till God calls us home!
Pastor Martin Flaherty
PS. May 8th is Mother’s Day! Remember to celebrate the moms in your life and that Deer Flat will be raising donations for Lifeline Pregnancy with the Baby Bottle Change Drive.