by Phil Martin
The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. Psalm 16:5-6
We would not know the depths of this wonderful promise from Psalm 16 if every plan we make in life is fulfilled exactly according to our expectations. Recently we got a taste of this joy as our plans to spend a year in Harbin China were abruptly thrown out the window. The veteran missionaries that invited us to train with them were deported from China for being missionaries. Rather than rehash the entire story, I invite you to read their accounts of events here, here, and here.
For Sara and I this change of plans was a learning experience. We were reminded that missions is 1 not about us and our plans, 2 full of the unexpected, and 3 not primarily about the place or people group, but rather about God’s glory through His purposes. We were forced to ask ourselves questions about what we would do if we were kicked out of a country. Would we start again in a new place? Would we become bitter and angry? Would we respond with confidence in God’s providence and His timing? I know that my response would not have been as exemplary as the Chinese Christians in Harbin that have remained steadfast, joyful, and full of faith throughout this trial. We have been strengthened by their testimony!
As we look to the future, this door still remains open, but in a slightly different way. There is still a chance that we will get to go to mainland China, but it would be in a different place. If not mainland China, we will be in Taiwan planting a church with the same team that was deported last month. We know that the boundary lines of God’s providence will keep us in His will and we trust that His plans, not ours, will be perfectly fulfilled.
The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9