The Cartledges: Pick Your Passion Well
Don and Jacquie Cartledge have been Assemblies of God missionaries since 1984. They served in Chile until 2007, teaching and directing at two Bible schools as well as pastoring two church plants. They also served in Costa Rica as Directors of CINCEL, LAC's center for language training and missionary formation. They now serve as part of the LAC leadership team to develop a missionary mentoring strategy and are raising up the church in Cuba.
The late Dawson Trotman (founder of the Navigators) once said that you only have time in life for one passion, so you must "pick your passion well." For the new missionaries that are being trained in today's Cuba, including a couple of additional passions would better describe their reality.
A passion for the lost is imperative for those who currently minister in Cuba as well as those who sense a call to take the Gospel to the nations. As long as there is one person in this world who has yet to come into relationship with Jesus Christ, God will continue to call someone to reach them. The passion that sent Jesus from heaven to earth is the motivation and driving force for all that is done in the Cuban church. It's also what will be sending every Cuban missionary to the nations where they will eventually serve.
A passion for the Lord is also essential to carrying out this task in a way that honors God and advances His cause with maximum effectiveness. Working in places that are overwhelming or lacking basic resources can be exhausting and compassion fatigue can take its toll. A heart for God and a passion to worship and honor Him will ignite and maintain the fire in any missionary's heart and the Cuban brothers in Christ have absolutely been branded by this passion.
Finally, a passion for learning positions any missionary to be like a "tree planted by the rivers of water" (Psalm 1). Abiding in a posture of learning creates an ethos of blessing and success (bearing fruit in due season, leaves that do not wither, and prospering in all one does). The Cuban church along with its future missionaries has a passion for learning that is second to none.
One key distinction is worth noting here: there is a difference between knowing and learning. A person can know without growing, but can never learn without growing! Just as a healthy tree grows until it dies, a healthy, blessed missionary learns for an entire lifetime.
Trotman might not agree with this, but choosing three passions (instead of just one) will result in a missionary thrust that is always looking for new opportunties and new ways to share the Gospel with those who have yet to hear it, is always exploring new avenues for developing his or her relationship with God, and is always finding new ways to learn and to grow into a resource that will be a great blessing to many. Pray that God will continue to raise up such a missions force in Cuba and that those on the outside who watch them develop will learn from their example and will also "pick their passion well."