Two years ago I was coming back from a six-week outreach in Papua New Guinea, nearing the end of my DTS in Townsville, Australia. I had no idea where I was going from there, in fact, the only thing I was sure of was the list of ten things I wanted to eat once I got back home. The day I flew back was pretty raw. Saying goodbye to all the incredible friends I’d made hit me harder than I expected. By the time I got home, I was ecstatic to see my family and gave my baby sister the biggest hug ever given. Once they picked me up and we were on the road they asked me what I wanted to eat and I found myself perplexed because I honestly couldn’t decide. Not because there were too many options, but because it didn’t matter to me anymore. All I could think of was the big picture – why did I do all of this and where would it lead me to?
Three months, and a whole lot of prayer later, and I was back in Townsville as a full-time staff member. It’s been almost two years since then and I’ve seen and learned a lot in my time, but as my commitment on staff nears its end, once more I find myself thinking about that list again.
It’s like when you crave a piece of chocolate cake all day, so much so that you go out of your way to go to the store and buy one. Yet when you get home and open it up you’re left disappointed. Like the cake looks great and there’s nothing wrong with it, but you know it’s not really what’s going to make you happy. That’s how I feel every time I find myself tempted to move on from ministry. The cake sounds good, and I really crave it sometimes, but I know I’m going to be disappointed if I go out and buy it because my hunger is for something far deeper than that.
I’ve been blessed to see people healed from their insecurities, gain sight to the reality of their own worth, and moving on from the past to make Jesus Christ Lord over their life. All of it seemingly impossible, and yet hundreds of moments come to mind as physical proof and I’ve been a part of that. No matter where I went, how could I give up on all of that when God’s telling me to persevere?
Sure, on a Monday morning it can be hard to see anything beyond what’s right in front of me; whether it’s stuff that doesn’t typically feel like ministry – like fixing equipment around campus, or cleaning up a toilet – but even on those days I know that care is the very heart of ministry. It’s not about the personal glory we receive, it’s not about how important we make ourselves out to be, or building our life to be the biggest adventure we can. It’s about my love for God, and do I truly love my neighbor? As I look at what I’m being led into next, I’m challenged by Christ’s true hunger to see the lost restored.
“Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.” John 4:34-35
Riley did his DTS here in Townsville in April 2018, and has been with us ever since! He is very passionate about discipleship through writing. Whether it’s through blogs, stories or simply an image, Riley loves presenting ideas in a new light through metaphors and poetry.