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Reflections on Furlough

Typically a missionary will serve a 4-year term overseas, then return for one year to
visit his churches to share what God has done through their joint service and create
a continual enthusiasm for world missions. Mark and Rachel Steffen, New Tribes
Missionary from Philippines describe their experience on one of their furloughs.

Sing a song of the furloughing missionary
Home from jungles far;
They’ve dressed him and they’ve dined him, and
Supplied him with a car.

They invite him to their potlucks,
They feed him in their homes;
You’d hardly recognize that man
Who came home skin and bones.

He’s shown his slides a hundred times,
He’s spoken and he’s sung;
He’s quoted John 3 verse 16
In that funny, native tongue.

He came home so excited,
With a burden on his heart
To share with friends and churches;
He could hardly wait to start.

He was sure the things he had to say
Of needs in tribes abroad
Would bring scores of Christians to their feet,
Eager to serve their God.

As he told of darkened hearts grown light,
Of new, changed lives and minds,
He knew they’d cry, “I want to go,
So ALL this peace can find!”

“How can I help?” he’d hear them say;
“I want to get involved!”
He knew they’d want to pray by name
For the brown friends he now loved.

Instead they asked, “How about the bugs?”
“How hot does it get there?”
“Oh, you’re so brave, I could never go,
Snakes give e such a scare!”

“I flunked by high school Spanish course,”
“I simply can’t stand rice!”
“Thank you for coming, Mr. Uhh…
Your talk was very nice.”

His shoulders sag as he leaves the church,
His disappointment hard to bear;
Why haven’t Christians sensed the need
He’s tried so hard to share?

He glances up and sees the Moon,
Then tears well in his eyes
At the thought that only hours before
That Moon shone in tribal skies.

His friends in the village had seen that Moon,
Brown brothers in Christ so dear,
But the Moon shone as well on hundreds of tribes
Who yet live and die in fear.

He can never reach them all alone,
And they need help – right now.
In pain, he cries out to his Lord
“Dear God, why won’t they go?”

“I’ve tried my best, Lord, but you know
There’s much more to be done;
It’s up to You, to complete as promised
The work You have begun.

“I guess I need to remember here
What you showed me over there;
The battle’s Your, the victory, too,
Thank, Lord, I know You care.”

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