I’m still in Russia. This morning it started snowing, whereas, since we had come, it had been fairly warm. It cooled off during the night and when I woke up this morning the landscape had been transformed into a beautiful fairytale scene, with snow covering the trees and the ground and millions of snowflakes falling to the ground.
I had been in a discussion yesterday with a woman who is busy with a certain ministry here in Samara in Russia. What really touched me, was to see the passion and enthusiasm she has for this ministry. It is clear that she absolutely loves doing this work. I can honestly say that I have the same feeling towards my work in Swaziland. A few months ago someone was telling me that he needs to take a break from his ministry on regular occasions in order to energise himself to continue with the work. Granted: We are all created differently. Some people need breaks more regularly than others.
What I do realise however is that in the countries where the most missionaries are working and which are usually also the poorest countries, like those in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe, the local people do not have any understanding for our Western need to “take a break” in order to energise ourselves again. I am given six weeks leave every year. Two weeks are used each year when I visit Russia to teach at this Bible centre. The other four weeks I usually take during December when I try and spend some special time with my family. All the other paid workers in our church in Swaziland have the same privilege. Yet I have never found anyone of them ever asking for official leave. It’s not as if they are working day and night. On the contrary, all of them are working at a much slower rate than I am used to (which probably also explains partly why they don’t easily get heart attacks,) but what I do notice – and this is the point I’m trying to make – is that they seem to be energised through the work that they are doing and not through other things which take their mind off the work.
And this made me think how important it is to enjoy the ministry to which God has called us. Obviously there are times when things are not always going well. Obviously there are times when one will get despondent. And surely there is a need to “take a break” from time to time, even if the main reason would be to spend more quality time with our families. But looking yesterday at the way in which this young woman radiates her passion for the ministry she is in, made me realise that, ultimately, we need to get our strength and energy for mission, not through things that take our mind away from our mission, but from the work itself that we are doing.