by David Richards
After 6 years serving in Africa, our family decided it was time to return to the US. We had worked with SIM and then IDEAS in some difficult countries. We had seen the Lord at work in amazing ways and felt excited to be a part of his Kingdom work. Our own faith had grown as well as our appreciation of our own gifts, strengths and weaknesses. In spite of many positives, things did not end as we planned. My wife and I had planned to serve many years overseas, and yet now we find ourselves back in the US due to a variety of circumstances. On the one hand, we knew that coming “home” was the best decision for our family and yet, on the other hand, we still felt discouraged and burned out. Our hearts still longed to be involved in reaching the nations but how could we do that In Oregon? I want to serve and continue to use my abilities and my gifts but, not being from Oregon, I just wasn’t sure what were the possibilities here.
Enter Mission Connexion! As a new Oregonian, I had never had the opportunity to attend Mission Connexion before. My wife and I decided to attend and so, last weekend we found ourselves with many others from Oregon and Washington hearing how God is at work “Without Borders”. What a blessing and encouragement to us in several ways!
I was excited to hear about the myriad ways to serve right here in Oregon. Mission Connexion is, of course, helpful for those preparing to go overseas, but I was surprised and thankful that it was so helpful for someone who has returned from overseas. I was very interested in hearing about the ministry to refugees here in Oregon. Having worked in some countries struggling with migration, instability and terrorism, I have some understanding of what these refugees are fleeing from and my heart breaks for them. I am excited about the opportunity to love and serve refugees right in my own backyard. I am thankful for Mission Connexion for making me aware of this opportunity to minister to refugees, giving practical ways to begin serving in this area as well as contacts with those already at work.
Mission Connexion was also encouraging in a spiritual way. I have felt discouraged about how our time overseas ended and struggled with some “whys” and “what ifs”. Several of the speakers I heard at Mission Connexion reminded me of God’s sovereignty, his power and goodness. I don’t fully understand the impact of my time overseas or fully understand why things worked out as they did. But God does! I was a part of his work in Africa and I can be a part of his work in Oregon. I can trust his goodness and his sovereignty, being thankful for the past and stepping out in faith again in the present.
I am very thankful I came to Mission Connexion. This event is not just for future missionaries. It is for anyone who wants to learn about what God is doing all over the world and for anyone who wants to find their own place in God’s mission, wherever they are. Maybe there are others like me, who have returned from the field and are wondering, “What now?” Mission Connexion is for you too! God is never finished growing us and helping us become more like Jesus and there are always opportunities everywhere for those who want to glorify God with their lives and be a part of his Kingdom work.
Thank you Mission Connexion!
Bio: Richards has worked in West and North Africa in teaching, project management and international development with SIM and IDEAS. He helps administer the Mission Connexion website and social media sites.