How Mission Changed My Life
by Mary Shields
What is is like to be sent on mission far away from the comfortable surroundings of your home, job, and country? Mary Shields, a medical doctor for the past 20 years, and a member of the Community of the Risen Christ in Glasgow, Scotland, tells her story - her struggles and challenges, her doubts and fears, and how God gave her new hope and fresh faith in him.“I'm not the missionary type”
My foray into the mission field started in 2003 when I was invited by the leaders of my community, the Community of the Risen, to attend a mission weekend sponsored by the European Mission team of the Sword of the Spirit. At that time I thought they had me mixed up with someone else. I never saw myself as the ‘missionary type’. So, I thought I was there to make up numbers. However, to my surprise the Lord had another plan. Previously, whenever I heard talks on evangelisization and mission work, I would feel vaguely guilty, defensive, or hopeless. But on this occasion, it was different. I felt convinced over the weekend that by praying daily I could contribute something very meaningful to the mission work of the Sword of the Spirit. ...I knew I couldn’t stand up on a soap box or stage and preach to big crowds.But I knew that I could pray for mission, and thus started a new chapter in my life with God.
The first thing which happened over the course of some months was that the Lord changed my heart and in some ways this was the pattern of what was to happen over the next few years. As I prayed I changed and in a very real way ‘the tent pegs of my heart were stretched’ (Isaiah 54:2). I started to really care and have a heart for the situations and people I was praying for. I do believe that the Lord was preparing me the opportunities which I was given over the next couple of years.
“I was susceptible
to one of the greatest lies of life”
This complacent and comfortable life was disturbed in 2003 by a phone call from Martin Steinbereithner, Mission Director for the European and Middle-East region of the Sword of the Spirit, asking me to join a mission trip to Uganda. Several aspects of this were a challenge for me, surprisingly not the nasty diseases we might pick up or strange food we might have to eat, but working with a team of people I hardly knew and speaking in front of large groups of people. We were asked to run the annual retreat for the Emmaus community who were full time missionaries and who lived residential community life, they lived what we were talking about. This was seriously scary for me.
“I saw the multiplication of our loaves and
One of the other ways the Lord worked in and still is working in me is to set me free to be myself, to help me believe that being myself is enough. God has been relentlessly breaking down the lies which I can surround myself with – that I need to be something more than I am, that I need to strive harder just to belong. This again has been a theme for me over the visits, the simple fact of the scale of God’s love for me. This has spilled out into my ordinary life by giving me confidence in God’s love no matter if I succeed or fail – and that means I can try new things without fear. I have recently taken on a leadership role in community that I wouldn’t have had the confidence even to attempt before.
“new hope and fresh faith in God”
On return home I felt a bit like St Peter at the transfiguration – I just wanted to build a tent and stay up the mountain, however I felt that God was saying to me that the experience that I had had was to help change my life down at the bottom of the mountain – God had things to say to me about relationships that were difficult for me here and He has work for me to do – there have been a lot of things I feel that have changed since I came back but underpinning them is a new appreciation of God’s love for me and His power to do things in my life despite my limitations.
Behold, I make all things new (Revelations 21:5).
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