“What is the hardest part of your ministry?” No one has ever asked me this question, but that hasn’t stopped me from thinking of an answer.
I just wrote about one of the most potentially dangerous incidents in the school (click the previous blog). This left me in a mild state of catatonia for a couple of days. Anything that threatens the safety, whether physically, emotionally or spiritually, of my kids is certainly difficult.
I haven’t written much about the stress of dealing with the bureaucracy, or drunken or corrupt government officials. I guess it’s obvious why. For sure, that is a major stressor in my life.
So far, however, there is one part of my ministry that gives me the most anxiety: Marital/parental issues. I’m neither married nor a parent, and that is the entire point. My teachers are. I deal with parents every day.
The first time I had to deal with serious marital issues, I had to call my Mom and ask her for prayers nd counsel. I had to counsel someone whose husband had left her with his relatives (the bride price means she belongs there). He hardly gave her enough for her and their son, yet whatever little he gave had to be shared among the entire household.
Today I had to speak with someone whose husband was fighting with her because she was caring for and providing for her ailing father. He refused to give her money for their household saying, “You have a job, don’t you?”
When I was in seminary, they warned me about this. My professor warned me, “In ministry, you are dealing with people. People poop. When you are in ministry, you deal with a lot of poop.”
Physical, stinky poop is probably easier to deal with than life poop—the poop that comes because we live in a sinful world with sinful people. As Pastor Peter shared with us the other Sunday, “Kwo pe yot (life is not easy).”
You can’t live in a bubble. Well, ok, you can. But if you really want to DO ministry, you can’t. You will see the poop. You can’t escape from it. Single? You will deal with some of the ugliest marital problems. Not a parent? Your heart will be broken with the most unthinkable acts a parent can do to a child, or vice versa.
Kwo pe yot.
For in this tent, we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling. 2 Cor. 5:2
We groan in this sinful world, and we need to be here, to fulfill the ministry of reconciliation entrusted to us. We are ambassadors. And we are not ambassadors in a lovely, neutral country like Switzerland. We are ambassadors in war-torn Somalia, where hostiles are everywhere. We are ambassadors in a country that is cut off by an evil, heartless ruler, who would withhold every true happiness from all its inhabitants.
The only hope in this is that the One who has given us this ambassadorship has promised to never abandon or forsake us. And he always keeps his promises. He is not distant or unreachable, either. He has given us His Spirit, as a seal, He had equipped us, He has given us an open line of communication in prayer. He lives to intercede for us, and for those we love.
Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 2 Cor. 5:20
That is all I can do, and all I really must do. I must point them, and myself to Christ. I am following the One who washed the feet of those he loved. In those days of dusty, muddy, donkey-trodden roads, that’s basically handling poop.
Breathe in. Handle the poop. Breathe out. Know that you are not alone. There is grace. This, too, shall pass.