Teacups in the Jungle

Life stories from a missionary mama

Night after night, I sat in my room, graffiti all over the wall, cold air coming in through the thin windows and a battle raging in my soul. “I can’t do it Lord. I am nobody, with nothing to offer.”

Voices of students partying in the hallway would echo down the corridor. It seemed such a strange place to be hearing the voice of God so clearly in my life and yet it was all I could think about. As fellow classmates headed out to bars, parties and clubs I locked myself in with the Word of God and my daily devotion books; “My Utmost for His Highest” and “Streams in the Desert.” These three books were my constant companions.

I was nineteen years old, living in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. I knew very few people and I really wasn’t interested in the course I was doing. I look back now and see the Lord’s hand and purpose in it all. It was a year in which I was simply to live alone with the Lord for I had a decision to make that required everything of me and I had to be sure it was for the Lord alone. I had nobody to turn to but the Lord and His Word. My room had no phone, no internet, no television, just a few posters on the wall trying to cover the graffiti and three books.

Since I was twelve years of age, I had felt this tug at my heart every time a message was taught on serving the Lord and bringing the gospel to the lost. As a young teenager I filled journals chronicling the conviction, the confusion and the conflict of a young heart full of reverence for the Lord Almighty and yet full of fear and doubt of what He may be asking of me.

I read missionary biographies and I listened to many missionary speakers. I had even visited the mission field and I was sure that I was not like the others I had read about. Men of faith, preaching the Word in a foreign language, ladies hiking through war torn borders, carrying children on their back. I could never even see myself witnessing to another person, never mind leaving family and friends and moving across the world alone.

I was the fifteen year old girl afraid to pray out loud. How would the Lord ever use me?

I was the seventeen year old girl who wanted to be the the life of the party, simply there to make everyone laugh. Why would the Lord take me seriously?

I was the eighteen year old girl wanting to go with the flow, by making the same choices as others. Why was the Lord asking me to be different?

I was the nineteen year old girl who had never felt so weak. Why was the Lord asking me to doing something that required so much strength?

The music blared from the room next door, the doors slammed as students came and went, bottles piled up in the shared bathroom and the world was loud and screaming for my attention.

Yet, in room 33 on the third floor, I heard a still small voice asking me to leave it all and step into full time work for the Lord.

The stories in scripture revealed to me the simple truth that God uses the weak people of the world. 1 Corinthians 1:27 tell us to us plain and simply.

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

The stories of Moses and Gideon were especially challenging to me, for I could finally see myself in the lives of these heroes of the faith. They didn’t think they could do it. They asked the Lord to send someone else, they asked for signs and they said they were the least of all the people. I could relate to all of that. Yet God continued to call them out and ask them to be obedient to His plans and purposes not for their comfort, but for His glory.

It began to click with me, that this was not about who I was with all my weaknesses and inabilities, but this was all about the One who was asking me to go.

If I looked to myself and what I had to offer, I would never had packed up that room on the third floor and I would have started into my second year of a course I wasn’t even interested in, but it felt safe and doable.

However, looking to the Lord Jesus Christ, who sacrificed Himself for me changed everything. Even though I had no idea where He would lead me, I knew He was safe. I believed Him to be only good and so I followed Him by taking the next step in front of me. I went home to tell my family, church and friends that God was calling me to be a missionary.

The last week of August, 1997, I sat in a new room on a second floor. It was cozy and warm, shared with a sweet roommate from the States and Bible verses hung on the wall. I began my time at New Tribes Bible School in England.

That is twenty five years ago this week. We heard the news of Princess Diana’s death on my first Sunday at church there. It was a startling reminder as I started a new chapter that life is so brief, eternity is before us all.

I think back to that time in my life so often and each time I simply thank the Lord for His grace in calling someone like me, and giving me this wonderful life of following Him.

I was so afraid of what following the Lord would require of me.

I was afraid what others would think of me.

I was afraid that I wouldn’t be happy.

I was afraid it would be too much and I would fail.

I was simply afraid.

I knew myself very well, too well. But the wonderful thing about stepping out in dependence upon the Lord, spending time in His Word and walking each day with Him, is that I began to know the Lord better. He began to increase and I began to decrease. I responded more to who He was and less to who I was.

Surrender is often thought of as a hard word, a word full of angst and difficulty. And it is true, during that time in my life, it was so hard to let go and surrender to the will of God.

If there is one message I could give from my twenty five years of walking this road with the Lord, it would be this; it has been a sweet road of surrender.

We do not surrender our life to a hard task master. We are surrendering to the will of a good, good Father who has the very best desire for our lives. The decisions may seem hard in the beginning, but the more we trust Him and the more we experience Him as we step out in faith and obedience, the more we long for more of Him and less of me. As our faith in Him grows, our fears of what He is asking of us fade in comparison.

If I look to myself, I still feel overwhelmed with the things the Lord is asking of me. I still feel that I have so little to offer and yet I see in scripture that the Lord simply asks us to come and bring what we have to Him. He is the Lord of taking so little and when we bring it to Him as a simple offering of faith, He uses it for His eternal purposes.

The Lord has given me a beautiful life.

Yes, there have been hardships and trials, but I know it has all been under His sovereign love and grace. He has been with me each step of the way. I love that the Lord in His kindness, put one of the most precious promises at the end of one of the most overwhelming commands.

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

He is with me always.

Jesus is with you always.

I don’t know what decision the Lord may be asking of you today, but you know what is tugging at your heart. The surrender feels hard, the decision feels too difficult, the voices of others and their opinions seems so loud.

Look to the Saviour.

Make your decisions in this life through the filter of the cross and all eternity. It seems so big and scary to us now to make these hard decisions and yet when stand before our Saviour and King and we lay all we have done for Him at His feet, it will feel so small. As the old hymn says, “I’ll wish I had given Him more.”

Don’t make decisions dear friend in light of your feelings or your fears. Make decisions in light of the Word of God and by faith step out into a full life of living for Jesus.

He doesn’t call all of us across the world, but He does call us out into the world to be a testimony and a light for Him.

Maybe you have a decision that needs to be made from a hard place in your life right now. You are in your own room 33. May I simply encourage you as someone who gave the Lord everything, in a time when I thought I had nothing to offer; He is worth it.

Jesus is always worth it.

My life has been all the sweeter for walking the road of surrender with Jesus.

“Not my will, but Thy will be done.”

May it be so, Lord Jesus.

With much love,


15 thoughts on “The Sweet Road of Surrender.

  1. Joyce Larmore says:

    It is such a blessing to read your new addition to Teacups in the Jungle! What an incredible insight of God’s leading, lyricism, and guiding. I love how you so freely share your heart and I am so blessed by your depth of understanding. You are such an inspiration to me!!!! ❤️


    1. Thank you so much Joyce. I will forever be grateful the Lord allowed out paths to cross. I am so grateful for your faithful prayers.


  2. Donna Koenig says:

    I love testimonies! Yours lifts me up and reminds me of God’s faithfulness in our lives as we trusted Him too. Surrender seems scary and yet then we get to see His Hand. Hugs, dear friend!


    1. I love to hear stories of how God draws people to Himself. I thought I was doing something so hard for the Lord, by leaving all to follow Him. I now recognise His grace and the gift He was giving to me all the way. Now onward and forward for the next season. Hug to you, too Donna.


  3. Marion Stewart says:

    So lovely to get this e mail Philippa. We are on holiday this week after 3 years and some difficult times. You had just come to my mind and I had offered up a prayer for you, Danny and the kids when I checked and read your e mail. May God bless you all in a special way today! Love Marion Stewart

    Get Outlook for Androidhttps://aka.ms/AAb9ysg ________________________________


    1. Thank you so very much Marion for your prayers, a huge gift into our lives. The Lord has certainly been faithful and we look forward to the days of serving Him ahead. We send all our love and thanks for your message.


  4. Julie Drummond says:

    Thank you Philippa for that wonderful word of encouragement. I was absolutely delighted to find Teacups in the jungle in my inbox this morning. Keep writing ! Xx


    1. I’ll try Julie. I’ve been feeling the little prompt for a while. Thanks for encouraging me along.


  5. Janine Kramer says:

    Thank you so much, Philippa, for continuing to share your story! I especially love this line: …”this was not about who I was with all my weaknesses and inabilities, but this was all about the One who was asking me to go.” He is so good to use us to bring Him glory through His strength and abilities! Hugs to you today!!


    1. Thanks Janine for all your faithful prayers over the years. You have been a big encouragement to me.


  6. Susan Stevenson says:

    Thank you so much, Pip, for such a sweet word of encouragement. So honoring to the Lord. Your writings are a blessing.
    ~ Shandi’s mom


    1. What a pleasant surprise to hear from you Susan. I remember meeting you all those years ago. Thank you for your words of encouragement. Greeting to all the family. Love, Philippa.


  7. Margaret Forbes says:

    Thank you so much , Philippa, for reminding us again of your amazing story. Keep writing! May The Lord continue to encourage and bless you and your family (Danny, Isabela and Judah )as you yield your lives in His service. Much Love,
    Margaret Forbes


    1. Thank you Margaret. It’s been a wonderful walk with the Lord that I am so grateful for each day. He was so patient with me while I was so fearful for His calling. I hope you are well.


  8. worldtravelerathearte544e48930 says:

    Hello Philippa 🙂 I was online looking for inspiration for designing my website/blog. It wasn’t by accident that I came across your blog. I love your testimony and the reminder that we are not where the strength comes from to do what God calls us to. We simply give Him our yes and surrender… easier said than done for sure… but He is able.
    My husband and I are newly living in Cambodia as missionaries. We are coming up on 3 months. It has been challenging and incredible all at the same time! We have 5 children and a granddaughter that we left in the states and I thank God for technology every day that I get to see their faces and here their voices, but He is worthy of it all. There is no greater privilege or honor than to serve our King.
    Blessings for your heart to serve! I will be praying for you and I look forward to reading your older posts and the things you post in the future.
    Thank you for being obedient thru the fear and for sharing your journey 🙂


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