As you're reading this, I'm flying somewhere over the Atlantic ocean between Washington DC and Johannesburg, South Africa. I'm leading a group into Swaziland, a nation that has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world. I'm privileged to serve orphans and widows in that country. I love the people there and am committed to partnering and believing in the hope for a better future for them and their children. This is my life, and I'm thankful God has given me the opportunity to serve the poor.
But there's another side I wanted you to know about. It's the side that reveals my personal pain every time I leave my home for the airport. When I close the door to my home, I know I've just left six people inside. My wonderful wife and five children, twelve and under, who need my time and attention. For the next ten days, they won't get it, for twenty days in the month of January. Emily and I have talked many times about the sacrifice that takes place when I go overseas, or leave for the weekend to speak at a church or conference. Normally those days are filled with basketball and soccer games for my kids, concerts at school, and a host of other events where I want to be present.
I do my best, taking one of my kids when I can. Last year our whole family went to Africa together for a month. But that's expensive to do on a regular basis. Then there's the complications of school schedules, and events that constitute a life at home that need consistency.
Sometimes I feel this pain acutely, like now. Not wanting to go on any more trips until my children are grown and my wife can travel with me. I'm particularly sensitive at this point, because my oldest son is now twelve and needs every moment I can give him. Of course, I try to balance this as much as possible. If I'm out for a period any period of time, I don't go into the office trying to 'make up' lost time. But you don't ever completely make it up. I have to trust God to 'redeem' the time I am at home and make sure I'm fully engaged in the lives of my family when I am home.
Please pray for me this week. I will be throughout Swaziland with a team and come home on the 28th. I'll be home for a day and then I'll be off to Canada where I'm speaking ten times (ugh!) at the largest conference in that country called BreakForth.
I'd love any advice, thoughts or words of encouragement on this issue. I'm also grateful for those of you who support me and Children's HopeChest through all the little things you do. Your Facebook messages, Twitter direct messages, emails, phone calls, hand-written letters and the silent words you lift to God on my behalf. It's the realization of all of this that reveals to me that this ministry is a partnership, I do what I do well, and you do what you do best by loving the people we serve, writing letters to orphans, giving of your time, talent and treasure, being ambassadors for CHC, and encouraging me and the staff. Thanks for your partnership and friendship. You are loved and appreciated more than you know.