My Struggle is a Blessing by Tiffany Carey

I have been an introvert all my life, but I have only been a missionary for about 3 years.  God has called my family to serve at Rift Valley Academy, in Kijabe, Kenya.  We are dorm parents to 24 high school boys.  We have two children of our own, so that makes me a mother of 26.  I am also a wife, a friend, a mentor and a member of a community.  That is a lot of people.  My role as a dorm mom is to help foster spiritual growth, as well as provide love, security and guidance to the boys in our home.  For that to happen I have to be with them, a lot, talk to them, a lot, and often initiate those conversations.  This goes against every introverted bone in my body.  My tendency is to shrink back, stay quiet, and hide from the party  happening in my living room.  So why would God choose to send me to minister to all these people – it would make more sense to send an extrovert, who feeds off of the energy in all these relationships, right?  I fully identify with Moses, who was certain God could find someone more eloquent to deliver His message to Pharaoh.   I have asked God, “why me?” many times and feel that His answer has been two-fold.

1. He does not want what I can do as much as He just wants me.  It is true, God could have sent anyone else to do this job.  So there must be some reason outside of my qualifications that He chose me.  So here is the question, what if He sent me all the way to Africa just to be close to me? What if He loved me enough to put me in an uncomfortable situation knowing that I would seek solace in Him? Would He really do that?  In fact, He has.  I often nag myself, I am a missionary, I am supposed to be changing the world, impacting the masses with the gospel, and winning souls.  I am supposed to be DOING all these things for Christ, right?  In actuality, Scripture is pretty clear, my purpose is to love God.  Isn't that what humans were initially created for, to worship Him and be in relationship with Him?  The work was secondary.  God is less interested in the work we do for Him than the time we spend with Him. I imagine you can relate - when I am at the end of my rope I spend a lot of time in prayer, I pour over Scriptures looking for answers, and keep my eyes peeled for divine assistance.  When I turn through scripture, I would like to find instructions on how to structure my day to get a full 8 hours of sleep each night, or direct commands to avoid hard, stressful, or taxing situations.  It's not there.  Instead I find verse after verse inviting me into His presence when I am weary.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened Matthew 11:28

My soul finds rest in God alone Psalm 62:1

He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak. Isaiah 40:29

For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish. Jeremiah 31:25

2. My biggest weakness is necessary for Him to shine through me.  In my humanity, I want to be fully equipped for the tasks He has for me.  I want to feel confident as I go about His business.  I want these things because then I would get the glory, and you had better believe I would take full credit.  But when God asks me to do something that I have not been trained for, something that is not at the top of my spiritual gifts inventory, or something that is just plain scary, He gets an opportunity to show off.  2nd Corinthians 12:9 tells us that His power is perfected in our weakness.  In fact, several times in the book of 2nd Corinthians Paul brags about his weakness.  Paul already knew what we need to learn – our weaknesses are not a curse, they are a blessing.  Those things about ourselves that we despise, are the very things that God will work through to bring Himself glory.  We see this exact scenario play out in the Old Testament when God whittles Gideon's army down from  22,000 soldiers to just 300.  The Lord said to Gideon, 'You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength.'” (Judges 7:2)  So instead of ignoring God when He calls you to a task that may expose your weakness, allow him to prove His power in your life.  He can do it, if we just get out of the way.

In the last 3 years on the mission field I have learned that being an introvert or an extrovert is not the key to my ministry.  My effectiveness in this role does not hinge on my skills.  One of my greatest sources of joy is my relationships with my dorm boys.  The very thing that I have struggled to do has become the greatest blessing.  The boys who have lived in our home will move on to become doctors, evangelists, engineers, husbands and fathers - world changers.  Maybe God will have used one of our conversations to guide their steps.  Perhaps, in a moment of my weakness, God shined so brightly through me that one of their lives was impacted.  This is where I stand amazed, that God would allow me to be a part of this.  I believe that God calls all of us to do something uncomfortable, outside of our wheelhouse, where we have no choice but to depend on Him.  He does this so that we can be blessed - blessed through deeper relationship with Him and witnessing His awesome power on display in our life.

Tiffany Carey and her family serve at Rift Valley Academy in Kijabe, Kenya, East Africa.  They lived in Des Moines for 8 years working with youth.  Her husband Corey worked in children's ministry at Valley Church for several years before moving over seas.  They have two children Dane and Finley.  At Rift Valley Academy, Tiffany serves as a dorm mom to high school boys and an elementary school teacher.  They are currently back in Des Moines, on home assignment. If you would like to learn more about their ministry at RVA you can read their blog thecareyfamily.aimsites.org. 

Tiffany Carey and her family serve at Rift Valley Academy in Kijabe, Kenya, East Africa.  They lived in Des Moines for 8 years working with youth.  Her husband Corey worked in children's ministry at Valley Church for several years before moving over seas.  They have two children Dane and Finley.  At Rift Valley Academy, Tiffany serves as a dorm mom to high school boys and an elementary school teacher.  They are currently back in Des Moines, on home assignment. If you would like to learn more about their ministry at RVA you can read their blog thecareyfamily.aimsites.org.