Sunday, January 11, 2009
On Another Missions Trip
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
What is a missions trip? To us, it's a trip to a place away from home, outside your comfort zone, where the focus is on leading people to Jesus Christ. We have had the opportunity to go together on two missions trips to Poland. By the previous definition, this is our third missions trip.
While we are home in Kansas City, we certainly are headed down an unfamiliar and uncomfortable path toward leukemia. Tammy's diagnosis--myelodysplasia--means that without treatment she is not likely to survive more than a year. It's not leukemia yet, but without a bone-marrow transplant, it will be. The chances of survival once that happens are lessened considerably.
We're outside our comfort zone. Though our faith in Jesus Christ is strong, we wish we didn't have to go through this. Tammy is not looking forward to the treatment, the time away from work, the likely sickness that will come with the chemotherapy and/or radiation, or the possibility of not surviving this disease. David is not looking forward to watching Tammy suffer. He's not looking forward to the 100 days after the transplant, when every germ is potentially very harmful. But we know that God will not put us through anything we can't handle--with His help.
Which leads us to the third point. We can--and will--use this journey to lead people toward Christ. He certainly is the One who brings people to a saving knowledge of Him, but He uses Christians to point people in that direction. Our family is looking at this as an opportunity to show people how faith in Jesus Christ can calm any storm.
When we went on our missions trips, our purpose was to witness about Christ and His love. We wanted to make an impact for Him. We found out that the people we met on our trips, especially the young people, made a bigger impact on us than we did on them. (Many of them are in the picture of our blog team from last summer's trip.) We wanted to be transparent, so they could see Jesus in us.
As we have traveled this path--a short one so far--people have told us that we have made an impact in their lives as they see our reaction to difficult news. Many people, especially some young people, have made a bigger impact on us. But through this, people are seeing Jesus.
We know of several bone-marrow drives that are being started because of Tammy's illness. It thrills us that many more people will have a bone-marrow match through this process. Our church has been a huge help to us already, and we know that our church family will only become more vital to our success.
Our friend Keith, who has led both of our trips to Poland, preached at our church this morning. He talked about his passion--which we share--for foreign missions. It brought tears to our eyes as he passionately asked the congregation to "go." We won't be able to go to Poland physically this summer, because of Tammy's illness and (hopefully) her recovery. But our goal is to see our entire church family get involved. In the meantime, we'll support the teams behind the scenes. And we'll continue on our "trip," to help lead more people to Christ.
Remember what we wrote a couple of weeks ago: Philippians 1:21-23. "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far." Tammy does not want to die, but she knows that Heaven awaits.
Please pray for us. Some people have doubted the seriousness of Tammy's condition, because we haven't panicked. That's only because of the grace of God. This will be a long, arduous trek. The risks are great, and physical survival is far from guaranteed. But as Tammy has told many people, she'll be fine either way.
If you have any questions about our situation, or what you can do to help, do not hesitate to contact us. Send an email to DavidDSmale@gmail.com. We love you and thank you for your prayers.