Truth Be Told

Some of my favorite chapters in books are the ones where the author is telling the nitty-gritty, the really hard parts of life. Even in fiction books, I enjoy the storylines where obstacles are present and must be overcome. It’s not that I want others to be miserable. It’s because those are life-chapters I can relate to. They’re speaking my language, if you know what I mean.

I used to think that when I went on the mission field and had a chance to share stories about life and ministry, I wouldn’t just share carnival-like stories, painting a peppy picture of only the lively, convivial aspects to missionary service. No, I would want to share the hurdles, the feelings of timidity, the doubts that come along with it all. Yes that is what I will do, I thought to myself all those months ago!

But, truth be told, it’s just plain hard to do. Not just the living, but the telling too.

Being misunderstood.

Creating fears, rumors, & questions among people I love.

Inadequate verbs and adjectives to describe heart-things, soul-things.

Worst of all, giving those naysayers – the ones who told us not to come (in one way or another) – fodder for self-righteous conversations…”I told you so!” echoes in my mind.

Or even creating the impression that things are really awful, that God is not “in this”.

How did those other authors do it? This telling-the-truth, with honesty and courage? 

Peeling back to the weakness of ministering here is not as simple as I thought it would be. (It’s much more fun to share stories of hippos and chameleons and new cultural excitements!)

Yet this conviction clings to me still – about the truth being told. I want my family and friends to journey with me for REAL, not just for FUN.


There was a little baby lizard in my toilet the other day. It was a speedy little guy – desperately splashing and thrashing to grip the sides of the porcelain bowl! It simply couldn’t climb out of the slippery-sided basin. Finally, I scooped it out with a soup ladle, and ushered it back into the cozy 105-degree heat outside.


I’ve found I need a good “scooping” every now and then, too.

I’m often drowning. Not every day, but lately…often.

Depending on the day, it might be a slippery bowl of lies, doubts, blame, or fears.

What are we doing here?

Whose idea was this?

How is this strategic for our future?

I’m 40 years old! Shouldn’t I know the big picture by now?

My peers seem so settled in, safe. What are we thinking?

I just want to teach the Bible! Not cook for 18 teenagers! Arg!

Someone! Please scoop me up and help me out of here!

In our family, when we need a good “scooping” (so to speak), we pick the nearest person, grab their hands, look them in the eye and tell them we need some truth. “I’m overwhelmed, I need some truth!” And we all know what to do…start talking Truth and then start talking to God. We each just do the best we can in the moment, telling the Truth of God’s Healing Word. It’s never perfect and might be paraphrased to the best of our memory. But the Truth gets out there and, well, starts the scooping…

For me, lately, these are among the Truths lifting, saving, re-directing my heart.

Matthew 10:39 “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

James 4:13 “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.”

Matthew 6:25-29 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

The truth of Scripture, along with some words of encouragement and some specified prayer, scoop me out to dry land.

So that is how it is! I discipline my mind around the Truth again today. 

Put on those irritating-but-necessary blinders so I won’t look left or right at another person’s journey. And now I’ll take in a deep breath of this hot, dry, land we now call home. And start a new day!

I hope you are having victory in your own drowning moments of life! If you need some scooping, let me know and I’ll send some Truth your way, and I’ll talk to God for you too!


“If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable; think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad.” -CS Lewis, God in the Dock

20 thoughts on “Truth Be Told

  1. LOVE your beautiful heart – and love
    That examPle of saying “I need to hear some truth”. Thank you thank you for sharing your journey with us. In the midst of everything else you are doing , you are also powerfully shaping your children to expect that faith is lived out in risk-taking reliance on God. That is something that those of us living a more ‘settled’ life are trying to figure out how to teach our kids in the midst of regular life – you don’t need to teach it, you are Doing It! The impact of your obedience is spread wide – not just where you are , but it reverberates back here too, with us, wih me. When I have more
    Time, I will tell you about the Binle study I am doing with 6 unbelieving neighbor women – but for now, I want you to know how often as I faced
    Fear and discouragement, I thought of you and other missionaries I know, and have been so spurred on to move forward in my own small mission. You are precious precious my dear friend, and YOU BRING GOD SO MUCH HONOR. Love you – Nic

    1. Hi Nicole! Oh my – your whole life is a fragrance of inspiration to me, my friend! Thank you for your encouraging feedback and comments and I can’t wait to sit and talk about all that God is teaching YOU through your neighborhood outreach — YOU GO GIRL! One thing that stands out to me since being here is that it is so much easier to feel like an “alien and stranger” on this earth, and therefore live a little more courageously every day. In America, it is harder to do that since it is so much more comfortable…UNLESS you are Nicole Zinn, and you purposely put yourself in situations that allow for impact. that is YOUR life, and I really do want to hear all about how this neighborhood group got started and how God showed you what to do…the whole story, really I want to hear about it someday! I love you and am thankful for you! Hugs (sweaty ones) from Africa, Nik

  2. Thank you, Nikki for the heartfilled truth!!! Love you all!!! HUGS all around…. I’m so proud of and pleased for all you are doing. And not just for the people in Africa, but for all of us!!!

  3. Thank you for sharing your heart and your stories. I love reading your blog and look forward to meeting you and your family when we arrive this summer. Today’s blog brought a tear to my eye… it resonated within my heart. Thank you for your encouragement. You have blessed me today.
    Joy Falk

    1. Hi Joy! Wow — what a surprise to get a note from you! Thank you for writing and it gave me a chance to look at your blog and learn a bit about you & your family. We are thrilled to have you join the team here in Niger. When are you arriving? Thank you for your heartfelt comments about my blog, and I can imagine that you truly CAN relate to much of my experience since it is YOUR experience too! Packing up and leaving everything familiar, believing God is leading your family to a new experience of faith & adventure! You are doing it, too. I look forward to meeting you, your husband, and your beautiful girls, and giving you a “tour” of Niger. Do you have any questions? Concerns? Let me know how we can be praying for you specifically, okay? With love, Nikki

  4. Was so encouraged by your thoughts..I need fishing out of that toilet of doubt and discouragment- quite often lately! Needed the reminder to run to the truth when the weird thoughts come. Miss you friend and just am loving how God is using your words! Keep it up!! 🙂 Hugs to all your fam.

    1. Melissa! Oh man I wish we could go for that long walk and talk for awhile about all that has/is going on in our hearts and lives!!! It was so great to see and hear Al recently over skype, but it only made we want to hang out with your family even more! How are those gorgeous kids of yours? It sounds like the transition is moving along for you, and your have been learning language a bit. Isn’t language study exhausting? We still need to practice our French, but it really takes a toll on me. Thank you for your words of encouragement (regarding this blog post) as I am learning this mode of communication -blogging – as a way to share our journey, as well as minister to whoever might be listening. I can’t remember if you are going back to USA this summer? We are staying here and getting things settled in the dorm so it will be a low-key Niger summer for the Gray family. We love you and deeply cherish the time we had with you last summer,and the friendship God began through SIM and PFO! Big hugs and love to you, Nikki

    1. Abby! You are right — we SHOULD be inspired by each other’s lives of faith! Thank you for your truthful words! Your family is an inspiration to ME in so many ways so I’ll keep looking your way for encouragement too. Love you so, Nik

  5. WOW!! Everytime I read your posts, I just wish you were closer and we could sit down and chat!! You are having such deep(and HOT) really inspires me. May God continue to encourage your heart and scoop you out on the days that are “scoop worthy.” We love you !!

    1. Rachelle — I will take you up on that get together…in about a year! Thank you for your encouragement, and your family is such a blessing to us! I would love to process with you more of what God is teaching me, in a more intimate way than a blog…but I am thankful for the chance to share things as we go along, so that later on it won’t be so overwhelming to communicate all that has happened in us. I loved the cool picture of Jordan with his trophy (fb)! Your boys are so handsome! Have a wonderful summer! Love you, Nik

  6. Cried reading this…thank you for putting your heart into words here, Nikki!! So helpful for me…thoughts that have been simmering deep in my heart that I haven’t even recognized yet. What a journey it is to be a missionary…what a journey. Oh, how honored the Lord is and will be through your family!! Talking to God for you and your family right now… Much love.

    1. Oh Susanne — thank you for your precious words. From one communicator to another I think it feels good to “connect” this way! Thanks for living courageously for Jesus and sharing your journey with me (and others) too. (I really enjoy your blog!) I pray that your pregnancy is going well and that you are keeping up with your little man! (And your big man, for that matter! ha!) We love your family so much — hugs to you from all of us! Love you so, Nik

  7. You are an amazing writer! Mission accomplished, sharing truth and showing God in the midst of hard times. Thanks for sharing that bit of authenticity. God be with you and the family. – Curt

  8. Nik,
    I read this last week and the pace of life prevented me from writing sooner….I was teary reading your “raw” feelings and so deeply touched that you shared them. So often we think missionaries are always sure of “the big picture” and it was refreshing to read your questioning it. Be encouraged my sister, the Lord prepared this path for your family. I’ve told you before that looking back I see His hand leading you this way, slowly, for a number of years. I can’t imagine the changes you and your family have undergone through this past nearly 6 months, but there is no doubt God is right with you guys, smiling a huge smile, pleased a punch, that His children are following His lead and reaching out to others to share His story. What a previlige to be a tiny little part of this with you guys. Thank you for your obedience, for you hearts, for your love for the lost…I pray that God shares glimpses of Himself with you in intimate ways on regular occassions. Know that we are praying for you regularly….we miss you, love you and am so proud to be on “your team.” – Corey

    1. Thank you Corey! I am finally getting around to some computer stuff, and saw your precious response and words of life to me. You have always been “convinced” for us…it has ministered to me often! THANK YOU! And your generous financial support blows my mind — thank you for sacrificing for us to be here. Please tell your kiddos that they are greatly missed by three kids here — my mom sent a pix of Luke playing baseball and Kate in the stands…Ruth said, “Kate is sure growing up!” I love it. We really look forward to some time in Richland next summer and spending time with your family! Love you so! – Nik

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