• Leah Van Someren

What is Ministry Anyway?

Month ten has been demanding, provoking and servant shaping.


I am currently writing from the one of two rooms my team is allowed to spend time in, in a walled compound no bigger than a football field that we’re not permitted to leave, sandwiched between the Russian army and police academy, in a country that isn’t actually recognized as a country by the rest of the world, in the poorest region of eastern Europe, where evangelism is newly illegal. It’s here, serving Transnistria’s persecuted church, God’s willed me to serve for the last organized month of my Race (more on that later). Here my team has been for two weeks and here we’ll be for ten more days, surrounded by people who don’t speak english, using google images to ask for toilet paper, chipping away at tiresome manual labor from 9-5. And with nowhere to go, we get zero alone time, spending literally every minute in the presence of at least one other person. Truth be told, I get up at 5:00a just to steal an hour with no one else around.


And it’s here my Father’s taught me what is ministry. 

Now, if you’re a questioner like me, you may be thinking, “Whaaaat? You’ve been gone for ten months ‘doing ministry’ and you’re telling me you just learned what it is? What the heck you been doing this whole time, guuurl?” And that’s fair — so fair.


But let me explain.


Our first two projects on the compound included, filling 25+ 7ft holes with a dirt/sand mixture and using bristled hand brushes to scrub 100+ moldy 15ft wooden boards. Three days in, as I felt sweat drip down my tanned face, thoughts flitted through my brain questioning the effectiveness of ‘ministry’ we’re actually doing. Even still, I’m a get er done kinda gal so I plowed ahead in my mind and body, but my heart continued to begrudgingly dissent. Like a little kid forced to eat broccoli, I force swallowed, rather stopping to learn what goodness God had in store for me. 


At the same time, God’s recently cultivated a hunger in my heart only to be satisfied by His word. I’m also currently on a Greek/Hebrew kick. That is, if I was an archeologist, the root of words would be my mattock. Each morning I sit, double fisting pen and highlighter, paper bible primed, the electronic e-Sword LT Bible open on my phone and Holy Spirit and I tear apart verse after verse, dissecting and searching the depths of God. It’s marvelous.

Combine these two seasons and my shower thoughts have been off the chain.

You think I’m joking? It was coming out of the shower a couple days ago, when God smacked me square in the heart with His sweet revelation of this season. He redefined my heart understanding: Ministry is any action taken that alleviates another’s load (mentally, financially, vocationally, physically, spiritually or emotionally) derived from a pure and joyous servant’s heart. 


In Hebrew, there are two primitive root words used for ministry:

1. Sharath — To minister, serve (assistant, attendant, personal servant, take care of, waiter)

2. Abad — To work, serve (become slaves, cultivates, labor, serve, tiller, worship)

In Greek, two more definitions are added:

1. Leitourgos — A public servant, an official servant (minister) who works for the good of the community

2. Diakonos — A waiter, servant; then of any one who performs any service, an administrator


Ministry is not confined to preaching the gospel on pulpit. It doesn’t have an on/off switch depending on how you ‘feel’. It’s not glamours, haughty or self-seeking. And it’s certainly not confined to the narrow silo our Christian culture has constructed to hold that which we deem worthy of our definition of service. Ministry is not waiting for that annual mission trip to do good, for the half an hour of greeting on Sunday to care for your fellow people or for your obligated yearly giving.


But you know what it is?


Ministry is SO absorbed with devotion to Christ and bringing His Kingdom, it’s self-forgetful. It’s volunteer servanthood. It’s going out of our way — no matter how far — eyes open wide to see the needs of others and, by God’s grace, fulfilling them to the best of our ability with pure joy. It’s getting dirty, sweaty and down-right exhausted so someone else doesn’t have to. It’s readily volunteering for the job no one else wants to do and completing it with authentic delight, overflowing from Holy Spirit dwelling inside you. Yes, it is also preaching, evangelizing, healing, etc. But even more so it’s your daily LIFE. It’s humbly bending so far below your fellow person and gladly doing menial tasks on behalf of Christ so He may receive all the glory. It’s being transformed by Truth and letting Jesus’ agape actually become your own for others and out of Him, serving them with love, out of love! It’s what you and I are called to do. And better yet, it’s biblical. For even Jesus, God of the universe fully in the flesh, didn’t come to be served but to serve — to give his very life for many. Just as Jesus did, so should we everyday for the rest of our lives!


Adopt-a-Mile FUN-draiser!!!

My World Race is almost over! 42 days left and I’ll be back doing ministry in America! WOWOWOWOW. Remember how I said this is our last ‘organized’ month of ministry? It’s because for our last month, my squad and I will be walking the Camino de Santiago, a world famous pilgrimage in Spain! 


Y’all. I feel most alive when I’m talking to people about Jesus. NOTHING makes me more joyful. It’s one of the many reasons I’m attending G42, a discipleship training academy, this September. God’s called me to learn more, love more, be transformed more, bring Kingdom more and spread the gospel MORE!

In order to get there, I need financial partners — that is, I need YOU. 

From May 25th to June 8th, my World Race squad will be mistering while walking the Camino. That’s trekking 137 miles in 14 days, folks! People from all over the world make this journey, all seeking something. Can you imagine the seeds to be planted and watered, along with the potential fruit ready for harvest?! I am freaking pumped to walk, love people, talk about Jesus, and vision cast for what the Lord has for this next season!

With that, would you adopt a mile for $50? When every mile has a sponsor, I’ll be $6,850 (or more?!) closer to my goal of $15,000! Wowza! Praise the Lord!

Partner financially via PayPal here: https://www.paypal.me/LVanSomeren

To catch up on where God has called me next, read my blog: http://leahvansomeren.theworldrace.org/post/whats-next-an-exciting-announcement-warning-long-blog-ahead