When we started our journey to working overseas, I didn’t realize how much responsibility we were adding to our lives.
As we slowly began selling our belongings, renting out our home, and traveling from state to state, the realization began to sink in that the process of simplifying our lives so we could leave for the field was actually giving ourselves more to handle. We were taking on more responsibility than we could have ever imagined.
What had been the normal fishbowl of a life in ministry expanded to include every part of our lives being made an even more open book.
The need to be real, share it all, talk about everything and be overly transparent was a part of every meeting, every post, and every conversation. From our finances to our parenting to our down time, we were even more accountable for it all.
This is not a bad thing. Really. We all need the accountability that these processes provide.
Regardless of our new place in ministry, we all have the deep call to godly stewardship of everything under our care.
Next, we can add the challenges of support raising, the details of moving overseas, the dangers of living in other parts of the world and so many other things that greatly increase the weight of daily responsibilities.
We truly become custodians of so many big things.
As I thought about the theme this week, of being a custodian in our overseas work, I started to look deeper at this idea of accountability, responsibility and stewardship.
I realized that this process brought about a different transparency and broader responsibility not only before man but also before God.
We became greater custodians of our children, our marriage, and our personal relationships with Jesus.
The stewardship required became quite clear.
We no longer had a lead pastor to speak into our lives. We no longer had a youth pastor for our girls or Sunday school teachers who taught them Bible stories. We no longer had an English speaking family of God to pour into our lives on a weekly basis. No regular kids programs or youth groups or marriage retreats or Bible studies at our fingertips.
This journey overseas pulled at the foundation beneath us and brought to light all the areas where we could once rely on others for help.
We stepped into a higher lever of stewardship of the most important parts of our lives.
Our personal relationship with Jesus.
We are the custodians, the guardians and the keepers of these precious things.
We have been tasked with their care even if the resources from our home countries are no longer available to us.
We are stewards in ways we never were before.
Somehow we must help our kids to have growing spiritual lives. We must foster their knowledge of the Bible, their understanding of spiritual concepts, and their love for the laws of God. Quite often overseas, we are the only source of spiritual, emotional and character growth.
Somehow we must continue the development of a strong, healthy marriage. Through the incredible stresses of living overseas, our marriage needs special care. We have to take time to be advocates for each other, strive for togetherness and fight for the promises we made on our wedding day.
Somehow we must put forth an even greater energy into making sure that nothing gets lost in our personal relationships with Jesus. Not only can we not let things slide, we must march full ahead with more endurance and perseverance than ever before. We must dig deeper into the Word, rely more heavily on His promises, trust without borders, walk through unknowns and desperately believe in His great love.
In these three areas, being a custodian becomes a full-time, 24 hour a day job.
Thankfully, the longer we walk this journey of overseas life, the more hidden resources become available to us.
We realize that although the responsibilities have grown, the grace of God is there.
When we feel the most alone, the most lacking in resources, the most overcharged with responsibilities, God provides in amazing ways.
It might be through a small faith-filled expat community. A school dedicated to pouring into TCKs. A national sent to encourage us on a day we need it most. Another worker who plans something for couples or youth. An online group of women who understand the crazy moments of our days.
In fact, the surprises of His care and the incredible resources of His Kingdom bring hope to those of us feeling the intense weight of living overseas.
Slowly, we realize that this high level of stewardship is a blessing in disguise. All other sources have been stripped away and His hand at work is all we see.
God cares about our kids. He knows them.
God cares about our marriage. He fights for us.
God cares about our relationship with Him. He seeks us.
Even when we feel the sole responsibility fall around us for the custodianship of our families, God steps in and holds us up.
His promises are still true for us. His ways are still enough for us. His love is still sufficient to cover us.
The simple yet amazing blessing of His help is available every single day no matter where we find ourselves in this world.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Philippians 4:7,13 “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus … I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
How have your responsibilities grow in your journey overseas? How have your support structure change when you moved overseas? What are some ways God has surprised you with community, resources and help?