For the first year of our service overseas, I was afraid to visit the local shops. It was all so overwhelming to me. I look back now and laugh because I probably could have gotten most of what I needed by pointing and speaking English. Back then I thought I had to speak Nepali 100% of the time. The problem at that time was I barely knew any!
I was afraid to seem ignorant or to overpay due to my ignorance. But mainly I was afraid to have to talk to anyone. God had given us a heart for the souls of these people but not a manual on how to connect with them. While I longed to establish friendships and the sense of belonging they provide, I could not get over my fears. We did most of our shopping at the supermarket, and if we needed anything locally I would send my son’s nanny.
My language has improved over the years, but my confidence to connect with local people ebbs and flows. I’ve carved out a shopping route in several different directions from my son’s school. I walk and talk my whole way home most days. I have a few friends I visit and drink way too many cups of chai with. The fears of feeling awkward, ignorant, or misunderstood are ever-present but thankfully, so is the Lord and His ability to transcend all barriers and bridge all gaps. When my fears are realized and my feelings are hurt, the comfort floods in faster than the fears ever could. He reminds me that the work of crossing cultures and connecting with people is worthy work because He is worthy, and I am never a step away from the love that casts out fear (1 Jn. 4:18).
One day, a shopkeeper called me over to ask me some questions about our beliefs. I was so thankful that God provided strength to overcome my fears and insecurities to stop and chat with her on several other occasions. Each moment I had handed my fears over to the Lord lead to a wide open door to share the Gospel. While I did not see tremendous growth in her understanding of the Gospel that day, I trust that the Lord will work in her heart and give her more opportunities to learn of Him. I pray that the door will remain open to continue to share with her and with others as I fling my fears into His care (1 Pet. 5:7).
And when I stop to buy yogurt a few shops over, I will forever feel giddy when I ask the sweet lady there how she is doing and she replies, “I’m blessed now by seeing you!” And to think I would have missed all these wonderful blessings if I had continued to allow my fears to trump my faith. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can do is surrender.
I “make” God big when I surrender my fears to Him, allowing Him to provide the strength and courage I need to love and minister to others.
What fears has God allowed you to overcome in service to Him?
Talk to me in the comment section below!