27 August, 2015

So much asking

Missionaries seem to always ask.
Asking, asking, asking. Always asking.

We ask for prayer and for help. Many ask for money too.

It's an aspect of our lives that probably annoys some people. To be honest, it annoys me too sometimes. I'm happy to be through this latest transition, because now I can stop asking for help so much.

But even on the field we ask. It's not uncommon to see posts on Facebook from missionary friends like:
"Anyone know of a good dentist/orthopaedic surgeon/orthodontist/masseur? One who speaks English would be great."
"Where do you get Cranberry Sauce/Desiccated Coconut from?"
"Can you tell me where I can buy big cuts of meat besides Costco? Local would be good."
"Local friends. Is someone available to look after my kids this Thursday?"

We ask native speakers for language and culture help, for medical help, legal help, all sorts of help. 

And of course we continue to write prayer letters and prayer points, asking for prayer support.

It hurts to be dependent From time to time it hurts to feel so dependent. I'm grateful for the time I spent as an independent, single, professional woman before we began this journey. It comforts me to know that though I'm very dependent now for many things, that's not because I'm a slacker. It's not because I prefer not to stand on my own two feet.

I read a couple of posts around this topic recently. This one is asking why missionaries ask for so much.
Others must get tired of our petitions, because we get tired of asking. It’s embarrassing. It’s humbling. It makes us feel like a needy child instead of a responsible adult.
She goes on to give three excellent reasons why missionaries ask. And encourages people around missionaries to encourage them to keep asking.

Is dependency despicable?
Dependency, it's something that's deplored by our western societies. It's something I grew up learning how to avoid. I'm trying to educate my kids so they won't have to be dependent, I'm trying to teach them self-care and household care tasks so they will be independent. As an Occupational Therapist, that's where we were hoping to get clients/patients: to the point of being independent. 

Yet I'm not independent, our family isn't independent. This article about dependency was written by a missionary in Haiti, obviously dealing with a lot of dependent people and wondering about her own status.

She asks three good questions:
Am I going to become too accustomed to living off of financial gifts?
How different am I than my Haitian neighbor who depends on foreign aid?
Will I ever be able to not have to ask for help?
Dangerous independence
Yet there's a danger in independence. 

God highlights it to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 8, when he talks about how dependent they were as a nation in the years of wandering in the desert. He humbled them and taught them in the desert. Then he warns them as they head into the Promised Land, that as they gain in independence they should be careful not to forget God.
17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today. Deuteronomy 8, NIV. 
Check out the whole chapter, it is full of this theme. 

I wrote about this theme of hankering after independence three years ago here and a friend reminded me of this verse:
Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God.
(2 Corinthians 3:5 ESV)

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