The first reply

Dear Rachael,

It’s so nice of you to write, especially from Vanuatu … Not only was your letter encouraging but it also made me realise that there are real people out there in real places and in challenging seasons, reading my books. So, thank you. And I’m not sure that ‘baring my soul’ was as brave as it was somehow ‘necessary’. I once heard a writer say that, ‘some people become writers because the circumstances of their lives make writing possible or necessary for them’. And I thought to myself, I must be in the second category. During our seventh monsoon, writing became necessary for me – it became the way that I could reflect and pray and begin to look back on my life and see God’s sovereignty in clearer ways. At the time, I was dealing with issues of war and poverty in Nepal, I was home schooling our three sons and I was struggling with the rain and isolation. So, to help me with all of that, I wrote my way through the monsoon – often from 9pm till midnight while the rain poured down and with two candles on either side of the laptop, but mostly because it was a helpful thing for me to do – rather than thinking so much about ‘the readers’.

And maybe that’s why it comes across as being so ordinary – quite apart from the fact that that’s exactly what I am! I was just having a nice long chat with my friend inside the laptop! And the friend stayed quiet and listened to me for ages … But the most helpful thing for me was seeing God’s faithfulness and sovereignty through all the seasons of my life. I think there’s something about trying to put your life onto the page that removes it a step – it takes it from inside your head (or memory) – and puts it out there on the page, and that somehow shows us more of God’s perspective. And maybe we don’t take enough time to look back on our lives and do that ordinarily.

And you’re absolutely right. I avoided the term missionary – mainly because I thought there was too much confusion associated with it. I didn’t want it to be a stumbling block, especially for non-Christian readers. So I referred to us as cross-cultural workers and I think that’s okay. Wherever we are, we’re missionaries because of our attitudes. The reason we wake up and get out of bed in the morning is because we want to share the love of God with those we meet. We want to use our opportunities to point to what he has one for us through his Son. And for some of us, I believe that God challenges us and equips us to do that cross-culturally – in places of great physical and spiritual need. But even more important than the places we do that, are the reasons we do that. We want to serve him. And that’s just as much a challenge for me here, now living in the Blue Mountains, as it ever was in Nepal. Perhaps it’s more so!

But thank you for your letter. It was so encouraging.

With love in him,

Naomi