The Joy Within

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By: Dr. Glenn Gaines, CVM South Central Region Representative

When I was serving long-term in Mongolia with Christian Veterinary Mission, I had the opportunity to go and watch some cardiologists from the U.S. do heart surgery on Mongolian children. They would come to Ulaanbaatar once a year and change the health of young lives that would have been cut short without their intervention. The day that I went, the staff was still talking about the previous day. As with any critical surgeries, there is always risk. What I missed the previous day was that a young child didn’t make it. When they told the parents, they were devastated, but then the mother started praising Jesus. You see, they were part of the first generation of Believers in Mongolia and her faith that day was tested and proven to be genuine.

How could someone that just lost a child so precious to them praise a God who could have healed her son? It is easy to praise our Lord when things are going well, but to praise him in the tough times requires something extra. This lady understood what it meant to have Christ in her life. She knew that it wasn’t of herself that she lived, but that Christ lives through her. Her faith was strong and it was evident in her actions. There were still tears and heartache, but she believed the promises of the One that made her and saved her for eternity.

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Your Call is Your Own

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By: Dr. Ruth Lacey

Everyone’s calling is different, and every missionary’s calling varies from the other. My calling to missions involves a bit of a process. I’d like to share some of that story, since few of you have heard it:

I think the first time I considered being a missionary was when I was in elementary school, about the same time that I began to want to become a veterinarian. Both of these ideas periodically waxed and waned throughout my adolescence. It wasn’t until college that I first heard of a veterinary missionary. This turned out to be my first exposure to Christian Veterinary Mission. The father of a fellow classmate was a veterinarian serving with CVM in Haiti. It was then that I started putting together the ideas of being a veterinarian and being a missionary.

Long term missions however seemed intimidating to me; so, my idea was to become a veterinarian and participate in short term veterinary mission trips throughout my career. Upon graduating from college I wanted to test this idea. I signed up for a short term trip with CVM to the Navajo and Apache reservations in New Mexico and Arizona. My plan was to “get my feet wet” and try to discern the type of involvement in missions I was called into as a veterinarian. An unexpected occurrence happened on this trip. I experienced an undeniable calling. This calling was unexpected in that instead of being specifically to missions it was to a man who would become my future husband.  Yes, I had met Coalson. He was just beginning his support raising to serve in Bolivia.

During the following years of friendship with Coalson and attending veterinary school while he was in Bolivia, I continued to seek whether I was called more to short term missions or long term missions. Once we started officially dating I took a 3-week trip to visit Bolivia and to see if this was something I could commit to long term. This was my first trip oversees and I did not know the language – enough to make one nervous. However, it never felt foreign to me and I felt comfortable. While there Coalson sat down with me and asked if I could “see myself here” in Bolivia. I took a long moment to answer. I didn’t want my decision to be made out of sole emotion; hopefully he wasn’t too nervous waiting. My answer was “I think so”, and I meant it – I believed I could serve there with Coalson but still had some apprehension of the unknown. After this experience and continuing to be called to my future husband, Coalson and I became engaged and married with the plan to serve in long term missions together. And here we are, planning to leave together in approximately a year for Bolivia.

So where does that leave me, you may ask. Am I following my husband into his calling, or do I have a specific calling of my own? The answer is yes to both. Although I don’t know all that I will be doing in Bolivia; I am trusting that I will walk into God’s purposes and plans as I delight in and commit myself to Him. Coalson and I both believe that I will minister to the girls and women in Bolivia. During Coalson’s first term in Bolivia his ministry with the female veterinary students was limited as a single male missionary. The male students bonded with him and many consider him a spiritual father.

We’re looking forward to ministering more fully with both men and women as a married couple. Many of the girls have emotional and spiritual baggage as Bolivia is a very sexualized culture. There is much opportunity to share the love of Christ and disciple girls and women into their full identity in Christ. The harvest there is plentiful as Luke 10:2 states, “…‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’ ”  Every believer has a harvest to reap. Each one’s harvest looks different than the other, but everyone has a role to play for the kingdom.

I’m learning that we don’t always have to know exactly what our harvest looks like before following the Lord’s leading. We simply walk each day in obedience and He leads us into our harvest, sometimes without us realizing that we’re fulfilling our purpose until we’re already there. A passage that helps illustrate this is in Exodus 23:29-30. The Israelites were in the midst of taking possession of their promised land and God states, “I will not drive them out before you in a single year, that the land may not become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. I will drive them out before you little by little, until you become fruitful and take possession of the land.” The Israelites were not given their entire promise in full immediately. God’s design was to wait until they were fully prepared to receive their promise. Finding our calling and purpose can be like that.

God reveals each step of the way, and little by little we walk into our purpose as we mature and grow (become fruitful) along the way. The challenge is staying in tune with the Lord through this process, that we do not wander along the way. Psalm 37:4-5 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it.” It is when we delight in the Lord and commit to Him that He places His desires into our hearts and they truly become our own desires. Our desire for our purpose or our harvest matches with His desire and plan for our lives. We desire to follow Him, and we follow Him into our harvest for His kingdom.

As our journey unfolds, you’ll be hearing about our story as God leads us into our harvest in Bolivia one step at a time, and I look forward to sharing with you what my specific roles are as God reveals them. We invite you to partner with us for the harvest in Bolivia through your faithful prayers and financial giving. And we challenge and encourage each of you to delight in and commit to the Lord as He leads you into your own joyful harvest.

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In Times of Unbridled Joy

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By: Dr. Kit Flowers, CVM Executive Director

“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

When I read this and other verses in the Bible connected with the word joy, I almost always contextualize this command as a charge for when we walk through difficult or challenging circumstances. Yet when we are told to rejoice always, the command would therefore include the times when we are filled with unbridled joy. When things are going well, or even great!

How about you? Does your heart naturally default to draw near to God when you are blessed with unbridled joy?

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Like No Other god

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By: Dr. Suzanne Laidlaw

If someone were to ask me what the clinical veterinarian really does; I would answer that we build relationships. The love of animals is not enough to be a clinical veterinarian, it has to involve the love of people as well. When I wake each day, I know I am going to help sick animals, give a clean bill of health to others, bring animals into the world and help other animals end their lives peacefully. What I do not know is the people that I am going to walk through all these procedures with. While on the farm or in the 20 minute appointment, I am going to do my best to build a relationship with these people so they will trust me and know that my advice is in the best interest of their animal and them.

This sounds more like Vet Tips 101, but let’s consider this in relation to drawing near to Christ. He asks us to build a relationship with Him. And this is unique, He is like no other god.

Before I make this claim though, it is important for me to have some facts behind my words. So here are what a few other religions build their foundation on, in regards to their relationship with their god.

  • Buddhists believe there is no deity. That keeps it simple because if there is no deity then there is no one to draw near to.
  • New Age believers would say they are god. So they have no god to have a relationship with or their relationship is with themselves. There is no external god to relate to.
  • Hindu believers acknowledge that there are a multitude of gods and goddesses, no single deity to call on. Through meditation, yoga and other rituals, they attempt to please their god sand goddesses as to accomplish a higher re-incarnation. So their gods again do not interact with them.
  • Muslims are similar to Christians and believe there is one god but the difference is that he is placed higher. Their god is unknowable and very powerful. It is not a god that asks for its followers to come close but rather a god that asks for its followers to accomplish the 5 pillars in order to earn their place in paradise.
  • Judaism, also like Christianity believes in one god. Religious duties, tradition, prayers and other rituals are how they dialogue with god, not with a god calling them to a personal relationship.

Our God, the Christian God, is in passionate pursuit of a relationship with us. It is at the core of who we are. It’s hwy we were created. Our God is unique because he individually calls each of us to follow him. There are no rituals, traditions or duties that we have to do. We simply have to accept His gift of mercy and live in grace. Our God has given us this gift. We can know Him and we have to give Him nothing in return.

Why is this important? Why do we even need to be close to God?

So let me go back to my initial example of our clinical relationship with clients. By knowing, understanding, and building relationships with clients, two outcomes are made possible:

First, we build trust and reliability. The client will further seek and rely on our advice to know what is best for their pet or farm. This is the same for us and God. The more we build a relationship with Him, the more we rely on and trust that He is faithful. Some may think we should just trust God with our minds. But as we walk through life and see how faithful and unchanging He is, we cannot deny that our faith and trust only grows more. The same is true for the doctor-patient relationship.

Secondly, we are able to serve better when we understand the needs of the client. This means understanding their finances, their health, their relationship with the animal, their ability to understand what we are explaining and what they hope/expect the outcomes to be. With this knowledge we can serve the animal and the client.

We build our relationship with God in the same way. Sharing details of our daily walk, studying His word, praying and crying out to Him. Through these things we will better know Him and be better equipped to serve Him, which is of eternal purpose. We were made to serve.

Our God is like no other god. He truly wants to know you. He will always be calling you closer to Him. He loves you. He wants you to trust Him, to rely on Him, to serve Him. Draw near to God, build a relationship with Him.

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What’s Stealing Your Joy?

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By: Dr. Lauren Charles, CVM Southeastern Region Representative

What’s Stealing Your Joy?  For almost a year, I’ve been talking to students, techs, and vets about what’s stealing their joy. It’s probably not a question you ask yourself regularly, but maybe we should. There are so many things, often little frustrations that add up, and other times real life events and crises, that steal our joy.

Busyness and exhaustion are my most common thieves. I haven’t had many serious trials in my life, but the everyday mundane tasks can bog me down like a wet blanket. I’m rarely trying to keep up with Joneses, but trying to keep up with the children, the laundry, the schedules, the emails, the meals (these people in my house want to eat three times every day!), the dishes, and all the tasks, robs my focus from Christ and the joy He brings. I need to practice the presence of God, as Brother Lawrence recommends, making every activity, no matter how mundane, an act of worship.

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The Difference between Mercy and Grace

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By: Dr. Gina Wintermantel, Affiliate Ministry Director

How wonderful it is that we have an approachable God! We can go directly to Him with confidence – because of our relationship with Christ. Not because we are worthy. Not because of our good works. Not because we know the Bible. Not because we are great teachers or servants. Only because of our relationship with the great high priest, the son of God, Jesus Christ. That relationship exists because He showed us mercy and grace.

I sometimes confuse those two actions – mercy and grace. An easy way to remember how to differentiate is that mercy is God not giving us what we deserve (death, or punishment for sin), and grace is God giving us what we do not deserve (forgiveness and eternal life in Christ). Oddly enough, because of mercy and grace we are able to approach the Lord, so that we can ask for mercy and grace in our time of need!

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