|1.||to inspire (someone) with the courage or confidence (to do something)|
|2.||to stimulate (something or someone to do something) by approval or help; support|
"YOU! You are Marina! I JUST got an email from E telling me to keep an eye out for you! I can't believe it was THIS EASY to find you!"
And a little bit... comforted.
Our little meeting turned into a lunch at Chic-fil-a with her homeschooling kids in tow, as we spilled encouragement and tears over tasty chicken and sweet tea. I was newly relocated and thrilled to be here, and she was "back home," but grieving over leaving the mission field she was so in love with. Both of us were being obedient to our husband's calling. Both of us unsure what the future held.
So started this beautiful, authentic, REAL friendship with a woman who was 10 years younger than me. It wasn't intended to be a mentoring thing, as we encouraged and inspired each other - despite the age difference. It was friendship, wrapped in a dose of peer-mentoring and encouragement!
So when they were sent off, they came to Antioch; and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the letter. When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement. Now Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words. - Acts 15:30-32
God brought us together at a perfect time. My passion was/is encouraging those on the mission field, and I'd just walked through a season where my missionary daugher and SIL had to return unexpectedly from their place of service. I was fresh with a tender heart, remembering how upsetting it was for them... but that gave me a fresh sense of what was "normal" in this circumstance. I saw that it was just as important to encourage the missionary back in their original country, as it was while they were on "the field."
I admired my new friend for being so brave; for not letting her vision or prayers die for this people group, for not letting her desire for the field ruin her passion for her marriage. I loved how she was continuing to believe that God had a purpose for the timing in them going, and returning. How she prayed for her husband to have new eyes, and a renewed passion for the field; and that God would change her heart to be content "back home." Prayers that if that was what God wanted, that He would re-direct her compass of where "home" was. That God would do something to allow a return to the field, accepting His will and His timing above all.
Several months later, we traveled to that place together with a small team, to encourage workers in that field. It was inspiring, encouraging, and amazing. She was shocked at how quickly the language came back to her, evident by our 2 hour taxi ride leaving the airport, and her talking to the taxi-driver the entire time... the only word she didn't know was "seatbelt!"
Although we went to encourage others, often they encouraged us. (I love it when that happens!)
If you'd asked me before leaving, what I thought would happen, I would have told you that I expected to fall in love with this place she loved, everything about it, including the food and people there. But I didn't. I tolerated the food... most of it didn't even taste tasty to me. I love the people, more as a recognition that HE loves them, not as a "I HAVE to be the one to go tell them about Jesus!" kind of way (though I would in a heartbeat, should He open the door and tell my husband that we are supposed to be there!).
He hasn't told my husband that, and we are both OK with me/us not being there. For now my hubby is a "missionary in a chicken plant" and I'm by his side, encouraging missionaries, former missionaries, or family of missionaries wherever they are... on their field whether it's "here, near, or far away." God's opened my eyes, and a door, for me to help encourage and equip women to be encouragers for the workers they know that are working globally to reach the lost for Jesus. This movement of *encouraging global care* will one day become *wHim* - Women Helping in Missions; because we can be an encouragement to missionaries all over the world - and in our backyard. While we are changing our babies, we can change the world. When the kids are learning letters, we can be writing letters to our friends, family members, and ministers as they reach out to those that have not heard.When our nests are empty and the house quiet, we can offer hospitality to those coming off the field, and pray for them when they return. While they are being His hands and feet in the fields ripe for harvest, we can be His hands and feet as we lift them in prayer, and purpose, and do spiritual warfare on their behalf. We can each do our part to equip, inspire, encourage them, so we can complete the task of the Great Commission... every tongue, tribe and nation...
And the encouragement keeps spreading... along with the Gospel.
The encouragement between my friend and I is still powerful today, though she's back on field and our communication is more via social media than face to face meals. We've seen the blessing that friendship, and encouragement, is. We know that God has equipped each of us to encourage one another... and to share that gift with others that need to be lifted up ... to share with them, the power of encouragement.