Making Tea and Holding Hands for the Sake of the Gospel


“Men wanted: for hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, safe return doubtful, honor and recognition in case of success.”

Perhaps you’re familiar with Ernest Shackleton’s legendary (and probably fictional) ad taken out in The London Times as he sought to assemble a team of men to journey with him on a precarious trek across the unknown continent of Antarctica. Whether or not the wanted ad existed, Shackleton’s expectations did. He knew that this journey didn’t promise ease, leisure, or a safe return.

Shackleton called his companions into a dangerous expedition, and he expected he would find some men with just the right mix of grit, determination, and the soul-deep desire to do something difficult. He was right. He assembled a 28-man team and, amazingly, he brought each of them back home.

I wonder whether anyone signed up to be the tea-man.

I wonder if in any of those adventure-seeking, macho men was willing to do the work of brewing tea and setting tables so that the men would stay warm and alive. I wonder who had the boldness to commit to a job that required so little bravado and brawn.

Perhaps a similar question could be asked about modern missions. I praise God that there are people answering the call to go to the difficult parts of the world to share the gospel with a lost and dying world. What a joy to hear of men and women who are moving to countries where there’s little-to-no gospel presence. They’re stepping out in faith, not knowing what will happen when they introduce their new friends and neighbors to Jesus. Some will face ridicule, exile, or even persecution and death. So many count the cost worth it to join the sufferings of Christ, “that the lamb of God may receive the reward of His suffering.”

And yet, a question remains: who will make the tea? Who will leave the comfort of home without the promise of engaging in “frontline” work? Are there those like Hur (Exodus 17) who are eager to serve even though it may cost much, look small, and reap little glory?

In Exodus 17, the Israelites are being attacked by the Amalekites. So Moses calls on Joshua to assemble mighty men for battle. They must prepare to face the enemy on the frontline while Moses prepares to support Joshua from the hill-top. Moses would supernaturally intercede for Joshua by holding his staff high into the air. God promised that when Moses held his staff in the air, Israel would lead the battle. But if Moses’ arms tired and his staff dipped, the Amalekites would gain the upper hand. Joshua’s skill, boldness, and leadership were imperative, but so was Moses’ strength! Aaron and Hur knew that Moses needed additional support. They neither fought on the frontline nor held the staff. Instead, they held up his arms, which was just as consequential in the Israelites’ victory.

If I may say this bluntly: too often, those willing to venture to far-off, difficult lands do not want to “settle” for supporting roles. Their decision to go to a “dangerous” location hasn’t been made lightly, so they want their work to count. After all, they’re willing to suffer for the name of Christ! This is commendable. But it’s also commendable to go to such a place and hold up the hands of those serving on the front-lines, even when their hands are shaking and knees are knocking.

For example, think of the children of missionaries around the world. Or, in some case, think of the wives who mostly stay at home while they’re husbands engage the front-lines. These people are a ministry field ripe unto harvest, and they matter to the heart of God. They’re weary from the fight against darkness and sin. They’re ready to be discipled.

It saddens my heart that so few people want to commit their lives to educating Christian children on the field or discipling Christian workers overseas because it seems like a “smaller” or “easier” ministry. May we never subscribe to the idea that a “small” or “easy” ministry isn’t worthy of considerable, even life-altering effort.

And who knows? Perhaps the “small” ministry of caring for Christian children in in a difficult place will have a ripple effect that one man or woman alone on the front-lines could never have.

Before he died, rose again, and ascended into heaven, Jesus declared He would build His church (Matthew 16:18). In the book of Acts, wherever the gospel was preached, a church would spring up. These churches cared for the needs of evangelists (2 Corinthians 8:1–6), prayed earnestly for brothers in prison (Acts 12:5–12), and used their gifts for the general blessing of all (1 Corinthians 12:27–31). These first-century churches were made up of families, and the health of those families was important for the health of the church as a whole (Titus 1:11). Indeed, it’s the church that embodies the truths of the gospel to the watching world. Where else can we see the beauty of adoption, reconciliation, and acceptance more clearly than in the gathered body of rescued sinners?

Our care for those in the body of Christ is never less meaningful than someone’s commitment to learn a foreign language so they introduce the name of Jesus to the nations. How sad it is when families commit to living overseas, learning a language, and sharing the gospel—only to cut their overseas ministry short because their family is struggling. Longevity can very well depend on how much support front-line workers have.

Just like Hur and Aaron’s role in winning the battle against the Amalekites, we on the field need you to come and help us stay. We need you to come and love our kids and help them see that a life of devotion for the sake of the gospel is good and beautiful. We need you to make tea and hold up our hands.


Kylie lives in Northern Iraq with her husband and four kids. She serves as the Head of School at Hive Christian Academy, and is passionate about incorporating the Gospel, joy, and creativity into learning and education. Kylie and her family are ever grateful for their local church community and the family and friends they have found on the ground in Iraq.

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