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“Thus says the LORD: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.’” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)
It takes an enormous amount of effort to pull off two WorldLead training events in Sochi, Russia and Beirut, Lebanon. No part is easy, really. It all comes with a cost. The arrangements of the behind-the-scenes logistics are complex: booking flights, allocating funds, inviting participants, and coordinating the schedules of thirty different partners from all across the world. It consumes an enormous amount of time to plan the workshops, format the lessons, tweak the concepts, and bathe the whole adventure in endless prayer.
We pack our bags, say farewell, give one last hug, and trek across the world on nine different flights with four long layovers, jet lag tripping us at every step of the 17,000 mile journey. Foreign foods, unfamiliar beds, cramped rooms, language barriers. All these should be bothersome and cause us to pause before we undertake such events again.
And yet, the people we work with, the men and women we meet for the very first time or the ones we return to invest in again, every single one makes the trip worthwhile. We learn their stories, hear the dramatic ways the God of the universe moved heaven and earth to bring them to himself, and shake our heads in wonder at the faithfulness of a Father who will go to incredible lengths to draw people to himself. He rescues and he redeems and he transforms lives in every corner of the globe. And we are allowed the unbelievable privilege of linking arms with brothers and sisters who speak in a tongue we do not comprehend but who speak the language of his love that transcends it all.
It is worth it. Worth the cost, worth the sacrifice, worth the effort. The Lord makes a way for us to go and experience what he is doing in places whose names we can’t even pronounce, where the cultures are different but where our partners’ goals are similar – to listen to his voice, do his bidding, share his love, walk in obedience, take a risk, watch him work, and stand back in amazement at his favor and his faithfulness through it all.
We return different, and grateful. We come home, but we have left a part of our hearts back there where our brothers and sisters live, serve, and bring glory to the name of our Father, for the cause of the gospel, by the power of the living Lord Jesus who makes it all worthwhile.
Elizabeth Karram Mitchell