The Visa Process, the Sling and Mustard Seed.

It was about five years ago we returned from Brazil thinking that our time in missions was done. Our second missionary venture in Brazil was not a positive experience even though looking back now we can see many wonderful things that happened to us. However, it does not change the unpleasantness of the whole experience. The thing that made it unpleasant was the visa process. We were actually afraid to return to mission because of this. We always encounter some problems with our visa. Many times it was something beyond our control. There was always some paperwork that was lacking which no ones really knows about except for the bureaucrats. It was usually something trivial and they would treat it as if our visa application was completely dependent on it. This is the one thing that makes us nervous. We are not afraid about working in the red light district, even though it is reputed to be one of the most dangerous places in São Paulo. This does not bother us in the least bit, but we feel nervous and insecure when it comes to the visa application process. This is our Goliath. We wish we could find a David to do the battle for us. Unfortunately for us, we have to face him ourselves and God is only arming us with just a sling. I would rather go out with the full armor.

parable_of_the_mustard_seedWe are applying for a missionary visa that would be enable to stay and work in Brazil for two years and upon the second year, we can apply for permanent residence. This is our intention. This visa is only given to those who have a religious organization in Brazil to sponsor them. We have been waiting for all the necessary sponsorship documents which had taken longer than expected. Now, these documents are finally due to arrive this week. This means that sometime this week we will be heading out to Miami to apply for our visa. Even though we have all the necessary paperwork, it is still nerve-wracking. The scripture that keeps popping into my mind is Luke17:6

If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea.’ and it would obey you.”

I use mustard seeds a lot in my cooking. They are an essential ingredient in Indian food. I know that they are tiny and small but it still does not help me. It makes me doubt whether I have any faith at all. I usually handle doubts well until I need to step out in faith. I need to remind myself that I am going into a ministry where young people who are living in seemingly hopeless situations have to take the risk and trust God to face their Goliath. Their Goliath appears to be bigger than the bureaucrats that I need to face. David’s victory over Goliath set the pace for his vocation as the king of Israel. We need to face our Goliath, I need to face my Goliath. Our faith can only grow when we face him. I faced him before and even though our past experiences were unpleasant, God still carried us through them. It is not about success or failure but it is about taking the risk and garnering up our mustard seed faith to meet our fears. Please remember us in your prayers this week. God bless.

Please share your thoughts. They do encourage us.

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10 thoughts on “The Visa Process, the Sling and Mustard Seed.

  1. Keep on keeping on Fr. Stephen! We are encouraged by your persistence and your love for this ministry, other-wise you would just quit and take the easy road. It is the easy road most of us are taking, not facing our challenges whether it is on our jobs, athletic endeavors or life in general. I still believe God is with us, and He wants us to bring the shovel to uproot the mulberry tree to plant it in the sea. After all we are His hands and feet! God bless you in your struggle, and give your peace, and know we are lifting you both in prayer.

  2. Stephen and Mary: God has set this mission before you and will equip you – there is something in this tedious process that will prove to be valuable in the future. May God’s peace, courage, and strength be upon you! Part of my mission is praying for you – our prayers are with you wherever you are!

  3. Reading this post made me think of what Paul said about his thorn in the flesh in 2 Cor 12: “8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

    I would love to be able to avoid having to get to a place where I’m weak and not in control of what happens to me. But sometimes that is exactly where I need to be so that I can get to where I’m trying to go–spiritually as well as geographically. Your reflection on the mustard seed reminds me of this truth, and you have my prayers that as you face Goliath this week you will hear God whisper to you, “Great job, Stephen and Mary! My power is made perfect in your weakness.”

    • Thank you for your encouraging words. In the gospel of Luke, Jesus tells a parable immediately after the mustard seed statement. It is the parable of the servant whose duty is to serve regardless of how he feels. Maybe it sounds harsh but I think the lesson is that the servant is not the master. When we try to be the master, we become overburdened and the yoke becomes unbearable. I believe that grace is the wisdom and strength that helps us discern who we are so that we can allow God to be God.

  4. Luke 10:1-23 comes to mind as I read the struggles you and Mary are dealing with at this time. Be consoled in the hope, that you both carry in your hearts and in your witness.
    Sling not Armor is our affirmation of our faith in the midst of much doubt, fear and trepidation. Verses 3 and 4 especially… “Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals” This sounds much more like a sling to me, and a confidence that our Lord understands our walk, our fear and our need to trust in Him, so that we may do all that He has in store for us. In time, we can let go of even the sling as we come to accept that none of our own doing matters as we live into the hope our Lord has for us. (Surrendering our instrument so that our very being becomes the instrument)
    Know that you are not alone in this journey, and that you walk alongside many who are with you every day in our prayers and in our hopes for what you are about to take on for Him.
    May God richly bless and keep you, and guide you through the Visa process, so that your witness and our love may go with you today and every day.
    In Christ above all else.
    Dcn. Din

    • I have been reading the gospel of Luke these past few days for my devotions and the chapter you cited have been a comfort to me in more than one occasion. These are powerful words. I appreciate your prayers. It is good to know that we are not alone.

  5. Your passion for this mission work comes through clearly. Your impatience comes across not as a lack of faith, but as an eagerness to get on with the work you feel so strongly about. No red tape nor trouble with visas will keep God’s work from being accomplished. The “gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Keep the faith–you are in our prayers.

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