Trusting God with What I Couldn’t Do

 Engaging on Campus Series
Our experience with campus ministry took place in Bandung, Indonesia. Looking back it was a time of fruitfulness and blessing. Generally speaking, as a couple serving on campus, Tom and I viewed ourselves as partners in ministry.  Certainly this was not reflected in the amount of time we were each engaged in the ministry. But overall, our one-heart was to be vulnerable with the students, open our home when we could, and involve our kids as it worked out. 
But it was not an easy time. I would say that overall looking back the greatest inhibitor of my involvement was my capacity. Often my desire and heart to be involved was limited by my capacity, which had to be spread out over the needs of our three children, daily life demands, and ministry.
I was often frustrated by my lack of capacity to be involved.
A major lesson I had to learn was to accept my capacity.

Because of these limitations Tom and I would discuss how I would be involved each semester.  Would I go to the semester retreat? Would I meet with women one on one? Would I lead a Bible Study?  Which of these activities would best serve the needs of the ministry? Sometimes just meeting with one woman over the semester was all I could handle. I could make excuses why this was so but it doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that I wanted to be involved and ‘with Tom’ determined how I would prioritize family, home and ministry. Family and home trumped ministry due to my capacity. Our kids were ages 5 through 13 during those years of ministry involvement (or lack thereof!).  During those years we did have a single staff woman who worked with us named Butet.  She was Indonesian, a gifted leader and major asset to our adjustment and ability to serve on campus. So, the women in the ministry were given excellent attention!
When I would disciple a woman she would come to our house. There were three reasons for this. First, foreigners were not allowed on campus. Secondly, there really was not a place to meet on campus or in public where we would not be a ‘spectacle.’  Finally, it was good for these young women to come into our home and see how we lived, even though it was very different from what they were used to. We had a simple yet organized life setting. We had children who wanted to know them and enjoy them.  They in turn enjoyed our children. And, in the privacy of our home we could share life, open the Word, and pray together.
 Prepping for our time together was as much about language, “how do I say this in Indonesian?,” as it was about content!  Prep always factored into how many women I would meet with or whether I would lead a Bible study.  Sometimes Tom watched the kids as I met with someone but most of the time I invited the women over when I knew it was a time when the kids would be least distracting: playing in their rooms, outside, or quietly engaged elsewhere. They could interrupt us but it was never a bother because interaction with the kids always brought lessons that were caught, not taught.
One semester “through the grapevine” I heard that my limited involvement was seen by our student leaders as a lack of love for Jesus. Oh, how this stung my heart. I felt so misunderstood.  But how could students truly understand a wife and mom in ministry?  After all, their lives were about school and relationships with each other.  They had NO LIFE EXPERIENCE!  Nonetheless, I had to work through this aspect of being an outsider!  
A verse God gave me during this time of limited interaction was Mark 14:8, where Jesus defends the woman who worshipped him. “She did what she could” as those around her were indignant with her participation.  God brought me to a place of seeing that my involvement with women was an act of worship to Him and that ALL He wanted for me was to “do what I could.”
As the years have passed and I look back I confess that those were the most draining of days. I had to trust Jesus both with what I could do and especially with what I could not do. So as you step into this fall semester make sure that you are vulnerable to Jesus.  Confirm that your priorities are prayed through, discussed with your husband, and ultimately laid at Jesus’ feet.  
Dana with Tom has been on staff with the Navs for over 30 years and married over 40 years. They are blessed with six children and seven grandchildren. Dana has lived in many places throughout her life time: Florida, Maryland, Indonesia, Chicago and Colorado Springs to name a few. Dana’s loves are the Word of God, people and helping people learn.  
To contact Dana please email her at: 
What about you? What did God say to you while reading Dana’s post? Is this an area that you need help in trusting God with? Share a story or verse to encourage a mom who could be going through this process.  

4 thoughts on “Trusting God with What I Couldn’t Do

  1. Thank you, Dana, for your faithfulness… for your love for the Father and others! This summer, I came across this quote from John Piper: \”It doesn't matter so much what we leave unaccomplished — but that our priority was things unseen.\” Thank you for your consistent example of pursuing things unseen! ~jeanne


  2. Hi Jeanne, thanks so much for your encouraging words. And, for the John Piper quote! So much of investing in others thru one on one discipleship to seeking to share Christ with our lost friends really requires us to believe God is at work when we cannot see the results! All unseen for sure! May God bless you with refreshment as you continue through the rest of this beautiful summer!


  3. Dana, this is so encouraging! As I step into a year of full-time homeschool I find myself accepting and at peace with what I can't do in order to give my best to what I can do. This was not the case last year, so I'm thankful for how God has moved in my heart. God has also placed a woman in our home this year who just got engaged, so in the midst of seeing what I can't do outside of the home, I'm overwhelmed how He is bringing ministry TO my home. He is so generous! Hope you and Tom are doing well!


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