When your students teach you


The last year and a half, I have been teaching one of the Moral and Religion class in two local schools.  This last Monday, my students taught me. Not in the sense of teaching something new, but more in the sense of reinforcing something I knew and about which I needed to deepen my understanding.

Photo Credit: Alyssa L. Miller via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Alyssa L. Miller via Compfight cc

This year in the local school, we have been studying about the Bible and about the Trinity. This has allowed for other subjects to be addressed while we studied these major doctrines. The last few classes have been about Jesus Christ. Who is HE? What did He do? What should be our response to Him?

Last Monday, we talked about being a fan of Christ or being a Disciple of Christ. A fan is out for what they can get from the object of their adoration. A disciple, however, makes a decision to follow the teachings of a particular person and dedicates their whole life to following that person. In a Christian’s case, this would be Jesus Christ.

Monday’s topic was on the cost of following Jesus Christ. With our text in Luke 14, we talked and discussed what following Christ actually means. Because I know myself the best, I sometimes use myself as an example. (NOT that I am perfect by any stretch of the imagination.) I told them of the cost for my personal following of Christ.

  • Three grandparents have passed away while I have been on the field.
  • My parents in Mozambique need a lot of help that I could supply.
  • My sister was a single parent with two babies while my brother-in-law was deployed with the US Army.
  • My best friend has dealt with a lot over the past eight years and I could only communicate by Facebook.
  • Sometimes I wish I could be split into multiple people to supply the need for each one!

I am sure if you ask any missionary or pastor who has been in ministry for any length of time, they would have similar stories.

The point of this post is not to have a pity party. The point is, at the end of listing what my personal cost has been, I said, ‘I am here because I love you and I count the cost as worth it to be here.’

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Photo Credit: Max Garçia via Compfight cc

Through the class this week, I learned about myself. Yes, it is painful to be far away from family when painful things happen. Yes, the cost hurts to do what we do. BUT, the reward of seeing just one soul learn about Christ and what He did for them, is worth all of it.

My question to you is ‘Have you counted the cost and is it worth it to be where you are?’

After all I have done for You, I am ALONE!

Today I am taking a bit of a break from Proverbs 31.

While preparing for a single’s retreat at the end of the year, I came across a passage. I have heard teaching on this passage before, but had never looked at it as is applies to a single missionary. The passage in question is 1Kings 19.

God has just proven that He is God in Israel with the showdown on Mt Carmel with the prophets of Baal. In a great flash of fire, God proved that He is the living God and He is worthy of worship. After this great victory, Jezebel hears what Elijah has done and swears revenge. He runs for his life. This seems weird after just seeing the mighty hand of God at work that he would run away. Then he goes even further and says to God:

And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. 1 Kings 19:10

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Photo Credit: Mycul999 via Compfight cc

God tells him to stand on the Mount before the Lord. God sends a great wind, a mighty earthquake and a raging fire, but does not speak to him. Then comes the still small voice asking him:

And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? 1Kings 19:13

I am reminded of God talking to Adam asking him where he was. God know where he was but wanted Adam to recognize where he was. With Elijah I see the same thing. He presents his complaint once again:

And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. 1 Kings 19:14

Did you see what I did? Here is what I hear Elijah saying, I have done so much for you and now I am all alone. Not only that but they want to kill me.

The charge of being all alone is one I hear a lot from single missionaries. We do so much and have no one to share the burden. But I like what God said next:

Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him. 1 Kings 19:18

God is saying, you think you are the only one who is faithful to me but I have so many others who have not sold out or compromised. He then sends Elijah to find a partner in ministry, Elisha.

This last summer, I was feeling the same way. All of my coworkers are families. I felt alone because I was not a part of a couple or family. Then I attended a retreat for single missionaries. I saw first-hand that I was not the only one. Many of the ladies present worked with couples or worked entirely alone. It was good to see that others had the same problems I did and the same feelings of aloneness. Now when I think of being alone among many couples, I remember, other are doing the same and the Lord is with us all.

God has picked out our places of service. He knows that we are lonely and discouraged at times. We need to remember what He said to Elijah, You are not the only one. There are others who are doing My work. Get back in the fight and I will send the help you need at the right time.

And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room. And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him. 1 Kings 19:15-18

The Virtuous Woman – The Trustworthy Woman

The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. Proverbs 31:11

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Photo Credit: charamelody via Compfight cc

This is the next verse in the Proverbs 31 Chapter we are studying. This verse is obviously written about a married woman, so what can I as a single woman glean from it? Well first I see a word or two that need defining. The first word is trust:

TRUST, v.t. To place confidence in; to rely on. We cannot trust those who have deceived us.

He that trusts every one without reserve, will at last be deceived.

1. To believe; to credit.

Trust me, you look well.

2. To commit to the care of, in confidence. Trust your Maker with yourself and all your concerns.

3. To venture confidently.

Fool”d by thee, to trust thee from my side.

4. To give credit to; to sell to upon credit, or in confidence of future payment. The merchants and manufacturers trust their customers annually with goods to the value of millions.

It is happier to be sometimes cheated, than not to trust.

If we look at this definition, we find that a woman of virtue is trustworthy. For a married woman, it means that what her husband had entrusted to her (namely his heart, reputation, life and future) are safe in her care. Since trust is a two way street this also means she trusts him to care for what she had entrusted to him. Next we look at the word spoil.

SPOIL, n. [L.]

1. That which is taken from others by violence; particularly in war, the plunder taken from an enemy; pillage; booty.

2. That which is gained by strength or effort.

Each science and each art his spoil.

3. That which is taken from another without license.

Gentle gales fanning their odoriferous wings, dispense native perfumes, and whisper whence they stole their balmy spoils.

4. The act or practice of plundering; robbery; waste.

The man that hath not music in himself, nor is not movd with concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treason, stratagems and spoils.

5. Corruption; cause of corruption.

Villainous company hath been the spoil of me.

6. The slough or cast skin of a serpent or other animal.

From the definitions of these two words, the verse becomes clearer. Because he can trust his wife in all things, he does not need the riches that spoil brings. A virtuous wife will protect her husband’s interests, whether that be business or personal. She will be always on the lookout for his best.

OK, but what about me? What can I get from this verse?

A married, virtuous woman did not become trustworthy overnight. Trust is an earned commodity. It is given when trust given has been returned with fidelity.

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Photo Credit: birgerking via Compfight cc

As a single woman, I need to cultivate the characteristic of trustworthiness or faithfulness. It is one of many virtues that a Christian should exhibit. We are to be trustworthy in the trust that Christ had given us to reach others with His Word. If we look at the verse in the light of Christ the husband of the church, He has given into our keeping His Name, His Reputation, His Life and His Future. His Name is our name now, His Reputation rests on our trustworthiness, His Life is an eternal gift, and His Future is the King of Kings. We have been given the task of spreading His Name and Reputation. What a sacred trust! Are we practicing trustworthiness? Are we as women of virtue developing the faithfulness that will result in Our Savior´s trust?


Lemonade from Lemons

First, let me apologize for not writing last week. Life interfered and I was away from my computer.

Now on to today’s topic. Many of you have probably heard the phrase, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” This summer life is giving me a lemon and I am trying to make lemonade from it.

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Photo Credit: Creature Comforts via Compfight cc

The lemon isn’t particularly sour but it is sour enough to be a hassle. You see the country I live in changed the law on visa application for visas over two years. Before the change, I could go to a testing place, take a test that proves that I can speak, read and write in Portuguese, and qualify for a five year visa. After the change, I now have to take a 150 hour course in basic Portuguese. So basic in fact that we started with the alphabet.

This course is conducted in a city half an hour away from where I live. It is 4 hours long and is almost every day of the week. This means I lose time I could have spent on my master’s degree, translation, or any other project I have going for the church. That is the lemon.

Now to make lemonade. The class is full of people from all over the world that I would not have met any other way. (We have at least two or three other languages going besides Portuguese in every class.) Because I speak Portuguese already, I am able to help the other students. If nothing else, I will get a couple pairs of hand knitted socks out of the process. (I am so glad the teacher allowed me to knit in class. It makes the time go by so much faster.) By taking this course I will be able to get a five year visa. This will save me money, time and hassle in the long run. A lot more lemonade comes from that one lemon.

When I was growing up my mother always said, ‘Life is not fair.’ As an adult, I completely agree with her. Life is not fair. However, I know also that the Heavenly Father is in control of everything. He knew that law would change and I would have to take this class. He knew that it would be a hassle for me to attend. He also knew who would be in the class with me. God sometimes puts us in situations ‘For such a time as this.’ Like Esther being chosen queen so she could save her people. Like Rome conquering Israel so prophecy could be fulfilled and Jesus Christ could die on a cross. Like putting me in a class to be a light.

Though my lemon is not particularly sour, maybe your lemon is. It may need a lot of sugar to make a palatable lemonade. Or maybe God is teaching you to like sour things and preparing you for something in your future. Whatever your situation, please remember God is in control and He placed you where you are on purpose. He not only placed you there on purpose, but He walks beside you all the way.

If this has helped you, let me know how God is using your lemons to make lemonade.

Strength in Numbers

This last weekend was our church’s second youth conference. Since I am one of the leaders for our youth group, some of the organizational details fell to me. Why am I talking about the youth conference here on the blog? Because of the theme, Christian Courtship.

Even though I have heard most of what was taught before and have even taught on some of it myself, it was good to hear it again. Repetition helps learning. It was good to be reminded again of what is necessary for a good relationship with someone of the opposite sex. It was also good to be reminded that even though I am single and am not in a relationship, there are still pitfalls of which I need to be aware.

The topics consisted of ‘God or the world: On which side are you?’ ‘Purity: a dream or reality?’ ‘Is it a sin to date someone who is not a Christian?’ and ‘The traps of the internet: Pornography.’ All of these topics face our young people of today, and even the not so young people. The speakers hit the nail on the head and preached straight from the Bible. They reminded us that God has set a standard for our behavior and expects us to keep to it. They also talked about how to avoid temptation and situations that can cause us to fail to keep the standard.

This last is what I want to talk about. Because we are single missionaries or workers in a church, we are held up as examples. It is our responsibility as older brothers and sisters in Christ to hold to the standard. The older we get, the more experience we are supposed to have in evading temptation. However, sometimes instead of holding the standard, we become lax in our vigilance.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 1 Peter 5:8

When we let our vigilance become lax, the devil is right there to take advantage. I know that I seem to be ‘preaching to the choir’ but sometimes the ‘choir’ needs the reminder as well. This weekend was that for me. God seemed to be saying ‘Remember the standard and keep to it.’

There is another reason we need to be reminded of the standard every once in a while:

But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. 1 Corinthians 9:27

Even Paul was concerned with letting the standard fall. If he was concerned, then we definitely should be concerned. As the speaker who spoke on Pornography said, it is so easy now days to be on the internet innocently and get it shoved into your face.

As my blog title says, there is strength in numbers. If you need to be around members of the opposite sex, make sure there are more than two. This is a precept I have been taught since I was a teen. Always make sure you are in groups of three when there are males and females. It has served as a reminder and a good rule to live by. It can also help keep you to the standard. It may complicate your life a bit, but it prevents problems down the road.

One last verse before I go.

Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 1 Corinthians 10:12

This verse was running through my mind a lot this weekend. We may be full-time or part-time Christian workers, but we are still human. We still sin and can still fall down. So if you think you’re standing, take heed.


In the beginning of May, our church will be hosting a youth conference. Our theme is on Christian Dating. (I understand the debate between dating and courtship. However, in Portuguese there is really only one word and it translates into dating but can mean courting as well.) We asked the special speakers to speak about the problems facing Christian teens today in this important area. Why am I talking about dating on a singles blog? Because this is also part of the challenge that faces us as Christian singles in ministry.

Photo Credit: jamescharlick via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: jamescharlick via Compfight cc

I cannot count the number of times that I have been asked why I am not married. Or the number of times I have been told, ‘I know a nice man you need to meet.’ Only to hear the answer, ‘No’ when I ask if this man is involved in world missions. Should I stop following God’s will for my life just to get married? NO! Being single in a couples oriented society is not easy. (I am not talking about society at large but the society of the church.)

For most Christians, God has been preparing for the other. However, it is not always in the will of God for some Christians to marry. Some He has given a different task. ‘Go through life single and serving Me with all that you have. I am enough for you.’

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

I know Paul is specifically talking about his thorn in the flesh, but being single is not the easiest task in the world. (Just like being married requires work.) If God has asked you to be single for Him, He will equip you with the grace to get through it. Just like He did with Paul. All we need to do is ask.

The temptations to stray abound for singles as well as for married couples. Just like a husband and wife need to keep themselves for each other, a single person must keep themselves as well. Why? Because our relationship with Christ demands that we keep ourselves unspotted from the world. We have the same restrictions placed on us that are placed on married couples. Paul said it best when he said:

“For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;” 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4

Many people in this world may mock you for your choice to remain single and serve God. I am sorry to say, even some Christians will mock you. However, I do know that God will bless you if you choose to follow Him and do His will. He asks us for everything of ourselves, but when we give everything, He gives back everything of Himself. That is a lot of blessing for one lifetime.

Will staying single and serving God be easy? Of course not. Being married isn’t a bed of roses either. If you were to ask couples who have been together for several years, I bet the one thing they will say kept them together was hard work. But being married and out of the will of God is a worse road to follow. On the flip side, if God does have that special one for you and you walk away from that to be single, you are just as much out of the will of God as a single who should stay single and doesn’t.

What is your take on singleness? Please leave a comment and let me know.

Serving Single: Amrei

Today’s post is written by a friend who shares the same mission field of Portugal. Her name is Amrei. She is from Germany and is involved in may aspects of ministry but principally with Member Care. I asked her to answer one simple question. As you can see, she gave a simple and a not-so-simple answer. I pray that this post will bless you as much as it did me. 

Photo Credit: Julicious via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Julicious via Compfight cc

Why do you serve God as a single person?

 What a question! My simplest answer would be: “I serve God as a single person because I am single!”, but that does not really help, right? Well, I guess I need to divide the question into three:

Why do you serve God?

To answer this question, I need to go back to my childhood. My mother says that, as a teenager I used to say I wanted to be a missionary. That is true, because when I was 11 or 12 years old, I discovered that Jesus was interested in me personally. I knew I was a sinner and there was nothing I could do to pay for my sins. Then I understood that He had given his life to save me.  So I gladly invited him to come into my life, to forgive me and be the Savior and Lord of my life. Even though I do not remember the day I made that decision, I realized back then the importance of the gospel message and I wanted others to discover this truth as well. So, around that time I found the purpose for my life, which I later stated as the following:

 “I want to go to heaven and take as many with me as I can!”

This is why I serve God. I count it a privilege to be able to do that as a full time worker. For many years I have seen myself as God’s servant, so there was kind of an obligation to go out, evangelize and disciple others. I became burnt out and completely unable to do any of these things. That was when I discovered God’s unconditional love for me. Today I say that I serve God because He loves me so much that He saved me. Serving God today might not look much different than before, but my motivation has changed completely. Now it is my response to Christ’s love for me.

 John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

The second reason I serve Him is that I love people. I hate to see others run away from Jesus, who loves them so much that He gave everything to save them. I want them to experience His love, God’s justice and forgiveness, as I have experienced it and continue to experience it day after day. I know God loves people much more than I do, but my love for God urges me to love others.

Why are you single?

I am very thankful that I can honestly say that I am a happy single. Not that I never struggle with singleness, but altogether I am happy as a single and I consider this another privilege. I meet many singles who constantly struggle with this issue. Recently a married Christian counselor told me: “You are happy because you chose to be single.” I do not agree with her because I never made that choice. Actually, I always imagined myself getting married and serving God as a mother in an intercultural context. But I love God more than anything else and I know that He loves me enough to give me what is the best.

Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.”

My way was going to Bible school, meeting my husband there, going to candidate school together and then leaving for the mission field on our honeymoon. What a dream!!!

Today I smile as I think about that, but it is true, I really thought that way. It almost became true when I was nearly engaged not long after finishing Bible school. When the relationship ended, this dream was shattered. However, I was not ready to wait to serve God until He sent somebody else along.

I have always been convinced of the fact that I am single today because singleness is the best for me. I would not be happier if I was married now. God could still change this, but it is not the purpose of my life to get married. My purpose is to love and serve God. This leads me to ask back:

Why not, serve God as a single person?

I see many “benefits” in serving God as a single. In Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians we read:

 Ephesians 3:17-19 “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”

In my life,I have seen this prayer answered because I serve God as a single person. There is no husband, child or other relative around to which I can turn to fulfill my need for love. This makes me turn to Christ, poor out my heart before Him and experience His fullness. The more I turn to Him, the more I get to know Him and His love. As a single, I can focus on my relationship with God. As I said above: this love is my motivation for serving Him. Some of my emotional needs are not met in my life, but they remind me thatI am not made for this life, but for eternity.

In serving God I have also found a new family, my brothers and sisters in Christ. I don´t need to constantly make a choice between spending time with them or with my family.

 Cultural adaptation and language learning was also much easier for me as a single. I could live with nationals and did not go home from language school to a place where I could speak my language and live according to my habits.

I can spontaneously adjust my life to whatever opportunities I have to be with and serve nationals, without having to consider the implications for the rest of my family.

I can dedicate my spare time to my friends, hobbies and to communicating with family in my homeland.

There are lots of ministry opportunities I can attend to because I am free to be away from home for longer periods of time.

So, can you tell me any reason, why I should not serve God as a single person?



Serving Single

As a single missionary, I am asked a lot about my single status. Emphasis on a lot! I hear things like, ‘Why have you never married?’ ‘What are some of the challenges you face as a single missionary?’ or my favorite, ‘I have the perfect person for you to meet!’ These comments and questions mostly come from married people. What do I hear from single people? ‘Is it worth it?’

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Is it worth giving up marriage? Is it worth living in a foreign country on your own? Is it worth not having children? Is serving God really worth the price He is asking me to pay? To be honest, some days my answer would be NO! But those are the days I let my flesh win, the days I focus on myself and have a pity party.

When I was in college, one of the classes I took was called Christian Ethics. The teacher’s watchword for the year was Focus. She was so right. When our focus is on ourselves, it usually leads to a pity party. You know what I am talking about. The question ‘Why me?’ comes up frequently. When our focus is where it should be, on Jesus Christ, then the ‘Why me’s?’ tend to go away and the ‘Wow, look what God is doing all around me.’ can shine. If I focus on what I don’t have or what I can’t do, I will make myself miserable. God does not want us to be miserable. He created us to be fulfilled by accomplishing His will. Do I still have dreams of being a wife and mother someday? You bet ya, because God also created women to be helpmeets and caretakers. Do I make myself miserable by thinking about what I don’t have? Sometimes. But in order for me to be fulfilled completely, I need to follow God’s will for my life. He created me with a specific purpose in mind. He did not make me single to make me miserable, but to fulfill the design He has for my life. There is a song I love that talks about God as the Master Designer. He is the only one that can see the blueprints. Only God knows what the finished item will look like. This reminds me that He is in control and His way is perfect.

Not too long ago, I saw the film ‘Facing the Giants.’ The scene that touched me most was when the coach’s wife walked out of the doctor’s office. She had heard one more time that she was not pregnant. What really drew my attention was when she looked up at the sky and said, ‘I will still love you, Lord.’ I thought about how that applied in my life. True I am not a wife, nor am I trying to get pregnant. However, she was acknowledging that God was in control and whatever He gave her was the best for her. As a single person, many times we are tempted to look around us at the couples and envy them. But, God is in control and we need to recognize that He is giving us what is best for us. Not a punishment, but an opportunity to show His grace.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Living by yourself can lead to living in your head a lot. This is why focus is so important. This blog started because I wanted to give people space to talk about how to shift our focus off of ourselves and onto God. What are you getting out of serving God? Where is your focus?

If this blog post has been helpful to you, please let me know.