Photo used with permission of Christie Cotney MageraWhen I was a little girl, I loved when missionaries would come to talk at church or around my grandparents dinner table Sunday for lunch. I dreamnt of serving overseas in an adventure for God. As a teenager, I wanted to become a missionary in South America. The thought of bringing God's love to people who may not know it was exhilarating. But, life intervenes-bad choices and grown up stuff led me away from those dreams forever. Well, at least until I started loving Jesus.
For all the things that can be said, Facebook opens up the world. I have 2 "friends" who are overseas living and serving God in Uganda, a country I barely heard of a few years ago but one that has captured my heart since. When I look at the pictures of the amazing work they are doing, I cannot help but be inspired and awed by God. I pray for them often since money is not in excess, but I know God can provide more than I ever could.
Christie recently posted an update which so beautifully and simply put into words many of my own thoughts:
Her: So you're a missionary?
Me: Do you believe in Christ? And I'm not talking about the part where you read from a piece of paper in Sunday School when you were 10. I mean do you REALLY believe in Him and identify with what He did for you?
Her: I do.
Me: Then YOU are a missionary, too. You don't have to go 9000 miles away. YOU are a missionary to anyone you come in contact with!
I admire Christie and Katie and other women who have followed God's call to love strangers that become family. I would never discourage anyone from following a call or even to experience God's power in a different culture on a short term trip. But that call is not mute for us who remain home.
The world is hurting, everywhere. People are desperately seeking wholeness and renewal that only the love of Christ can touch. Do we hear His prodding to talk to the women behind the counter? To pray with the man beside you? To love the unlovely? To forgive the scandalous? To embrace the abrasive?
While you may not need to raise support money, you may be treated more harshly. While you may know the language, you may find the words stuck in your throat. It isn't always easy, tho Jesus already told us that: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also." (John 15:18-20)
I don't think we should set out to be hated, but if my life is bland, if my spirit is lukewarm, it is useless, dead. I would rather stir things up, get people thinking, offer them hope they do not understand but can almost taste. (And, really, I am not so sure Jesus meant the "outside" world as much as the "internal" world of the religious. Again, I do like to stir things up and get people thinking. We can be as dead in the church as in the alley beside the building.) If we believe that we have met the Giver of Life, if we have been raised from the dead with Him, how can we keep this joy to ourselves? How could we not seek the lost, the wounded, the grieving?
I am a missionary. I live in Pennsylvania. I do nothing grand, but I try to bring Him glory in all that I do. I have some influence. I have a little courage. Even better, tho, I have His Spirit within me.
So, thank you, Christie, for sharing your journey with me, for sharing your faith in our Father and for reminding us that we are all missionaries.