Going into deputation, I was really, really nervous. I’m sure you’ve heard the deputation horror stories like I have, and some of those scared me to death. You know, the nasty places you’ll have to stay, the weird food people will feed you, how rude pastors can be, how you’ll just barely scrape by with just enough gas to get to your next meeting. When we began deputation, I fully expected to have all kinds of terrible experiences, and I was going to just have to get through it and try to laugh about it.
I am happy to say however, that God has truly blessed us thus far with a wonderful deputation experience. It hasn’t all been a bed of roses, but in the times when it has been hard, God has given us grace to be able to handle it, and we’ve actually enjoyed deputation very much. In fact, Nick and I were discussing deputation recently, and we’ve both come to the conclusion that these past months since starting deputation have been the best of our married life.
Here are some unexpected blessings and challenges of deputation and how God has worked through them:
Sharing our burden for Boston:
Sharing our burden for Boston with others, and really see people ‘get it’. Deputation to church plant in the United States can be challenging when sometimes people don’t see the United States as a legitimate mission field, but when it clicks that our inner cities are so needy and there is so little of a Gospel presence, it is so rewarding. One of our major goals on deputation is to help others get a burden for Boston, and that God would call others to go as well. Since we’ve started deputation, we’ve met 2 college age young men that feel that God is calling them to Boston.
Traveling with a baby/toddler:
We started traveling when Gabe was 8 months old. He was still nursing on a 3 hr schedule at the time, so it could make traveling interesting, because we could not just drive 8 hours straight. What we would do was stop every 3 hours, and I would run to the bathroom while Nick changed Gabe’s diaper. Then Nick would go to the bathroom while Gabe nursed and usually get some sort of caffeinated drink to help stay awake. Then when Gabe was done we’d start driving again.
Another challenging aspect of traveling with a baby is the lack of routine. I am the biggest routine person and have been since I was very young, and Gabe seems to thrive on routine as well. As you can imagine, routines do not really happen on deputation. This is a way that God has really been gracious in helping us manage despite a lack of routine, and another way he has stretched me for the good. If you know anything about inner city ministry, you know that time is not a huge factor in these people’s lives, and God knows I need to relax a little or I will drive myself and everyone else crazy if I insist on a rigid schedule.
One last challenge with a baby on deputation is the late nights. We are always the last ones to leave church, and when we are in our home church, if Gabe is getting cranky and we feel like we are ‘provoking him to wrath’ by keeping him up late, we will leave and go home. At a church we present at however, we stay until the end to get to know the people, answer questions, and help in any way we can. There have been many times that I have been stressed out because Gabe is getting cranky and ready for bed, and I have prayed for patience and help, and God has sent someone to offer to hold Gabe, or Gabe has uncharacteristically fallen asleep in my arms, or God has just helped me to handle Gabe and stop stressing out.
New and Meaningful Friendships:
Deputation can be kind of lonely because it can be hard to build relationships when you are only in a church for a day (or a week if it’s a mission conference) but social media has made it a lot easier to build relationships. We’ve kept up with with members of our home church and of supporting churches, other missionaries we’ve met at mission conferences, and family that we don’t see as often. It is a huge blessing to get to be around other missionaries who have been on deputation before and pick their brains to see how they handled the challenges, and also to be encouraged by the way the Lord has worked in their lives.
I am a homebody; I love being at home and in my own space, so this big adventure of deputation has definitely been out of my comfort zone! Romans 8:28 says “All things work together for good, to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose.” I hadn’t realized until we started traveling how set in my ways I can be, and God has totally shaken up my way of life to make me more like Him. I can also be very introverted, and while I know God gave me the personality he gave me for a reason, I also know that sometimes my shyness isn’t just personality, but self-absorption. God has really used deputation to help me to get out of my shell and look for ways to be a blessing to others instead of being stuck in my own head all the time. I’ve also learned to be better at small talk!
A LOT of Family Time:
Nick and I get to talk as much as we want while we drive, we get to pray together, sing together, listen to audio books together… it is such a blessing to get to spend so much time with my husband. I actually look forward to car rides because I know we get to spend uninterrupted time as a family. Nick also gets to spend a lot more time with Gabe than he was able to when he worked a secular job. Gabe is turning into a little daddy’s boy, and I love to see him spending time with Nick.
World’s Happiest Baby:
Gabe is just about 1 1/2, and you wouldn’t think deputation would make THAT much of an impact on him, but it really has. He has gotten very friendly with just about anybody after being in close to 100 nurseries! This will be a huge blessing in ministry, as we would love for our children to be able to reach out to others. It doesn’t matter where we are, Gabe is smiling, waving, and blowing kisses to everyone he sees. Gabe has also learned some decent table manners and is used to eating out at restaurants. It used to really stress me out when we went out to eat because I was scared to be ‘that mom’ with the screaming kid, but Gabe has learned what is acceptable behavior from doing this so often.
We’ve also had the opportunity to teach Gabe quite a lot while in the car. While we’re driving, I’ll read books to Gabe, go over colors and shapes flashcards, practice saying and pointing out parts of the body, practice animal noises, sing songs… There are a lot of things to do with him in the car (and yes, he does watch cartoons in the car sometimes). In fact, Gabe LOVES riding in the car. Yesterday, Gabe pointed to his shoes and then the door and said “Shoes. Car. Go. Bye.” He’s turning into quite the little traveler. You’d also think that being in a different place every week would mess him up, but in reality he loves it. Actually, the first thing he does when we get to a new place is run everywhere, squealing and exploring.
Watching God Provide (daily):
The last blessing (for today) is God’s provision. When we started on full time deputation, we had 2 supporting churches. God provided mightily through meetings scheduled and new supporting churches and even individuals, and we’ve never gone hungry, never slept in our car, never been destitute. God provided for us to trade in our Subaru Impreza for a minivan, and that was probably the most exciting provision as far as I’m concerned. I’d been praying for a minivan for a while, and God provided in the perfect time.
All that to say this; if God has called you to a mission field and you’re going to go on deputation, don’t be scared. God knows what you will go through, and he already has it planned out, and his plans are always good.
When you pray for your missionaries, hopefully this will help you to pray more specifically.
When you think of us, don’t think that we’re miserable on this adventure of deputation. We are loving it and praising the Lord that he has allowed us to do this!
Andee Lewis says
I really enjoyed reading your perspective on deputation Lindsey and I’m thankful that our church was one of your stops along the way. We continue to pray for you that the Lord will lead and guide.
Betty Jo says
We loved having y’all at our Missions Conference in June,New Testament Baptist church. Praying for your work in Boston.
Jackie Malandrino says
Wow, God is such an amazing provider.