Every Tribe, Every Tongue
Since the passing of her husband Tim, Robin Wagar continues to minister to the people and assemblies of Paraguay by taking on the role of encourager and leading online Bible studies. Despite her insecurities about the effectiveness of her ministry, the Lord continues to bolster her faith through His Word and assure her of His calling.
Where are you serving? How did the Lord call you to this specific mission field?
I live and work in Asunción, Paraguay. I’m actually a missionary kid. My parents, Ray and Marian Green, have been here for close to 46 years. I moved back to the US after marrying Tim Wagar, a middle and high school science teacher and track coach.
Every year, around the time Tim had to renew his teaching contract, we would debate whether or not it was time to move back to Paraguay. The fourth year this happened, things came together in a way that clearly indicated to us that the Lord wanted us to pack up and move south!
We were commended in 1985 as independent full-time workers to Paraguay. Throughout our time here, we were involved in several different areas of ministry, but almost always somehow connected with education and sports.
Tell us about the people you minister to.
The Lord moved my husband up to His side in June of 2017. Since then, my ministry has been somewhat different. I have been working mostly with women in the church group of which I’m a part. Most of them are wives and mothers. Many work outside the home or have a home-based business — and they continue looking for ways to serve the Lord.
The Lord moved my husband up to His side in June of 2017. Since then, my ministry has been somewhat different
So, my role has been that of an encourager. I offer a shoulder to cry on, an ear for listening, a heart to pray, whatever is needed for these wonderful ladies to continue strong in their faith. We talk about marriage issues, workplace issues, parenting issues, discouragement, faith, everyday annoyances, blessings; in short, anything that they want to talk about.
I used to take them out for coffee to give them a break from their routine and give them a safe place to unload. Of course, 2020 changed that quite a bit, but as restrictions loosen up here, I am slowly getting back into that as much as possible. I am also co-leading an online women’s Bible study this year. That has been a bit daunting for a technologically-challenged grandma like me!
What would you say to those of us who need to make a transition in ministry, like you had to after your husband’s passing?
I guess the most important thing is to be aware of God’s moving and leading. During the final years of my university teaching experience, I often went in to work early and spent time with the Dean. She had become a good friend and I understood how often she needed to blow off steam or calm down after a particularly difficult staff meeting or a particularly frustrating student-teacher meeting. My husband encouraged this even though it meant longer hours.
At the beginning of my final year of teaching, Tim mentioned that it might be good for some of the women from our church family to have the same possibility of unloading with someone. This evolved into my current ministry.
Over the past few years, I’ve had to make changes, of course. But what started out as a “side ministry” (if there is such a thing) has become my principal focus and has branched out to include giving Bible studies and more direct involvement with the larger women’s group.
All this is to say: a transition doesn’t always have to be sudden and uncomfortable, although there are often elements such as these in the mix. To quote writer Ann Voskamp: “If you’re waiting on God, do what servers do: serve.”
The point is, even if you aren’t sure how God wants you to serve, if you look for opportunities within your context and reality, you will find ways to serve. And that service may either be exactly what the Lord wants you to continue with or it may lead into something different. But there’s nothing mystical about “the call”; we are called to serve. Find out what you can do and concentrate on doing it until you aren’t able to avoid changing.
The point is, even if you aren’t sure how God wants you to serve, if you look for opportunities within your context, you will find ways to do so
What are some personal spiritual challenges you face and what is the Lord teaching you through them?
I think the biggest challenge for me is exercising my faith in two specific areas: my kids and grandkids; and the effectiveness of my ministry.
Most of my children and a couple of my grandchildren live in countries other than Paraguay. My input into their lives, spiritual or otherwise, is limited by physical distance and very different time zones! This gives rise to worry — although my physical presence would not make a whole lot of difference. But God knows what each needs and I’m constantly being reminded that He loves them more than I do; that He is sovereign and I can trust Him with them.
Apart from that, I have always had insecurities about the effectiveness of my ministry. It’s an ongoing struggle. But so far, the Lord continues to bolster my faith through His word.
For our readers who struggle with worrying about their families, what are some practical steps we can take to combat worry?
Being human means we worry. Not all the time or always about the same things, but we all worry. I think the first step is to recognise the onset. My worry sessions often begin with a vague feeling of unrest, a kind of internal itching.
Once we realise that we’re beginning to worry, we can identify the problem area. What or who is the specific worry about and why do we feel concerned? That’s when we can lay it all out with the Lord honestly and completely. This is actually more for our benefit than anything.
When we express our worry to God, we shift the worry onto Him. Being able to “get it off the chest” and recognising God’s sovereignty leaves room for His peace and comfort. This is my process. But it’s not a step-by-step, follow-the-instructions, one-size-fits-all type of process. And it isn’t instantaneous. Each individual will have their own version but, in my experience, these elements are usually present.
What specific insecurities have you seen the Lord help you through? For those of us who struggle with insecurity in our ministries, what should we remind ourselves of?
I was never interested in teaching. I don’t have the patience for classroom dynamics with children or the attitude of teens. But the Lord moved my husband and I into education here in Paraguay. Tim was a middle/high school teacher when we married, so the transition — except for language issues — was easier for him.
When we express our worry to God, we shift the worry onto Him… Recognising His sovereignty leaves room for His peace and comfort
The Lord dealt with my insecurity and inadequacy by making different educational options available to us and showing me, specifically, that teaching can take many, more enjoyable forms. Then, after getting a degree, the Lord pushed me into teaching at the Christian university here in Asuncion and I found that I liked teaching university students!
Because I enjoyed it, I focused less on my insecurities as a teacher and more on the benefits for the students. Since Christ moved Tim to His side, I have been working with the women at the church, encouraging them in their varied ministries in life and partnering in teaching the Bible classes. It is sometimes difficult to see what effect my ministry to them is having and that leads to second-guessing myself: am I doing it right? Is this really where God wants me? Am I making a difference?
Some of us have a greater struggle than others with feelings of inadequacy. There is a very real possibility that these feelings end up paralysing us and limiting our service. I have two verses that I use to remind myself of my reality in Christ. The first is 2 Timothy 1:7 — “for God has not given [me] the spirit of fear/cowardice/timidity but of power and of love and of a sound mind/ self-control/ self-discipline/ wise discretion/ sound judgement and personal discipline” (different versions taken together give a very well-rounded application).
The second verse is 2 Corinthians 12:9 — “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power/strength is made perfect in weakness.” I like the way the Amplified Version says “is being made perfect”. It is an on-going process because we will continue to battle our weaknesses until we are in the Lord’s presence. And He doesn’t give up; He continues to use our weakness to perfect His power in our lives.
How can we pray for you?
Please pray that the Lord will continue to strengthen my faith so I can effectively minister to the women here and set an example of what it is to “live by faith”.
Please pray that my kids and grandkids will acknowledge the sovereignty of Christ and follow Him closely.
Please pray that the women I’m serving will be strengthened in their daily walk with the Lord and continue to aim at being a testimony to those around them.
What is your favorite verse/quote?
I have a hard time answering this, because I have a hard time picking just one! But, over the past four years, Lamentations 3:22-23 have cropped up again and again in different ways just when I need reminding of this wonderful truth:
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”
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