Being a missionary did not stave off the wolves of addiction, divorce, and crime against our family.
They came for us despite our years of serving the poor, counseling trafficked children, taking the Gospel to places in the world it had not reached. Some days, I wonder if our family suffered more because of it.
There is not enough space here in this column to dive into the darkness we found waiting for us when we returned from our eight years of humanitarian and mission work. But I wanted to preface this piece with the truth because, all too often, we create stories of others by the small bits of information gleaned as outsiders. The truth helps us sit in perspective together, where we belong.
In 2017, we returned from our work overseas blown away by all that God had accomplished. Our family had been a part of something far bigger than we had set out to do, and we were just as amazed as everyone else. I will admit, I imagined the next couple of years to be a time of decompression, a return to “normal” life. However, we had, what felt like breaths, to rejoice before we were introduced to the next two years of what seemed like a sort of hell on Earth. Walking through these unexpected sorrows with our children turned out to be far more difficult than living without running water, learning languages and finding my way to a squatty potty in the frigid Mongolia temperatures.
Although being a missionary didn’t stave off the wolves, it did prepare me for them.
I turned to the Bible and God’s people. In the worst of times, I ran to worship songs, hymns that pointed me to the God who stays. I pulled out everything I had used over the last eight years to gain strength and not lose my way.
My faith in God was proven stronger than I realized, something I wouldn’t have known had I not suffered a brokenness that only he could put back together again. And we endured.
Please read those words slowly, we endured.
Perhaps you’re in need of endurance today. I’m certain we are not the only family the wolves came for.
May I encourage you? We’re on the other side of it. This weekend, we celebrated the marriage of our youngest son. All of us traveled across the country to gathered in one beautiful home. The weather could not have been more perfect, the home more luxurious, and the food more delightful. But this was not what caused my heart to swell bursting. It was the joy that filled the home.
Addiction had been destroyed, broken hearts had healed, suffering from the painful crime against our loved one had subsided. In the middle of all that joy, if you could read my heart, it was shouting out to God with so much gratitude. So many people do not endure, and perhaps they just don’t know how. I’m so glad he showed me the way.
• Shari Tvrdik works as director of communication for Cup of Cold Water Ministries. She is author of the book, “One Baby For The World.” From the four corners of your living room to the other side of the globe, the mission to live God’s love is always and everywhere.