In January of 2009 we left our home in Mongolia for a BMA team meeting in the Philippines and some vacation. Describing Mongolian winters as harsh equates to saying the holocaust was bad. Suffice it to say we were anticipating warm sand and fresh fruit. Prior to departure we had decided Laura would seek some medical advice regarding health problems she had been having that winter. We weren't sure what direction to turn but prayed and trusted God to provide.
As it turned out, God had providentially answered our prayers weeks before we had prayed them. Due to a schedule conflict the speaker for our meeting had to cancel his trip. In his place our speaker was a doctor and wife team who formed the core of our new missionary care team. In addition to conducting a conference, they scheduled two counseling sessions with each missionary unit.
In our first meeting they asked something like, "what would you like to accomplish in this meeting?" We responded with the primary concern of Laura's health. After some initial probing, they confided they had discussed Laura's visible symptoms before our meeting. A woman with the same symptoms had just been under their care in the US, and they were reasonably sure Laura had an illness caused by pituitary tumor called Cushing's Disease. They recommended she be sent to the US for tests, and if those were positive, probably neurosurgery.
Later that day, we were called to a private meeting with our regional director, the doctor and his wife. They looked me in the eye and said, "What would you say if we told you you weren't going back to Mongolia?" I replied (and yes, it was this immediate), "I've been reading 2 Corinthians this week. This morning, the verse that stuck was 2 Corinthians 13:8 'We cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth.'"
2 Corinthians is a written defense of Paul's ministry to a church under the influence of false teachers who criticized the apostle's every step. Paul was insanely busy preaching the Gospel throughout the world. He had established the church at Corinth during an 18 month stay in his second missionary journey (see Acts 18:1-18). In between his visits to Corinth (see Acts 20:2-3) others had infiltrated the ministry, presented themselves as ministers of light and criticized every aspect of Paul's ministry. 2 Corinthians 13:8 concludes Paul's defense, and is a deliberate statement of personal assurance in God's sovereignty over the ministry of the Gospel. No trial, hardship, attack, criticism, accident, NOTHING happens outside of God's providence and thus cannot inhibit His purpose to glorify Himself above all else through the proclamation of the Gospel.
My testimony in 2009 was as true then as the day Paul wrote it in the first century. Along with Paul, I'll not say I haven't battled depression, anger, resignation, bitterness, etc. Our agency extended tremendous grace, but some also unfairly criticized me and my ministry. Others questioned whether or not our trials were evidence of God's displeasure with us. Another missionary left the field due to sinus problems caused by allergies . . . at the same time Laura was having part of her brain literally pulled out of her nose!! Trust me, in that climate surrender was hard, but living sacrifices must die to selfish ambitions in order know God's perfect will (Romans 12:1-3).
The conclusion? The Gospel is still being proclaimed, even in Mongolia. Laura is alive and improving every year. Our family is in a great place of ministry. I am still preaching. In essence, NOTHING was done against the truth . . . only for it. What an awesome verse.
Thank you God for 2 Corinthians 13:8!!