This morning, as I was having tea with dear high school friends of mine we were talking about missions, nations, farming, business, and life, and got asked: “How do you overcome the challenges of living in a country where you are, for all intents and purposes, an outsider — coming from a different cultural background, having to learn a third and fourth language and having few local friends?”
The truth is: after a while the adventure wears off, living in a tent in the wilderness loses its charm, you long for simple fellowship where your stories, your language, and your culture does not have to be contextualized.
The one thing that is un-negotiable is that you cannot limit your obedience to the call of God on your life to the physical and spiritual challenges you face. And yes — that’s easier said than done.
The minute we start relying on our own capacity — to make friends, to learn the local language, to disciple, to provide, to find practical solutions, we will become exhausted.
When we serve the mission, without serving the vision, we’re not expanding the Kingdom, we’re simply ticking off a To-Do List.
Fulfilling the call of God on our lives may look different from person-to-person, and there’s certainly no guideline or manual on how to do that, other than walking in obedience to Holy Spirit.— C. G.
So, while the physical (and spiritual) challenges of foreign missions can become overwhelming (even if only for a moment), what drives me is not my own sense of comfort, the familiarity with which I cultivate friendships, the types of food I eat, or the language I worship in.
There are SO many things worth celebrating and testifying about — it certainly isn’t a giant chunk of “suffering for the Lord” — and perhaps fulfilling the mission doesn’t come with a manual, but serving the vision is always rewarding!
The Mission might be to make disciples.
But the Vision will lead you to those who have ears that are ready to hear, and hearts that are open to receive.
The Mission might be to develop sustainable agricultural practices.
But the Vision is to look at the wilderness and see the harvest when the ground has not yet be worked, and the seed has not yet been sown.
The Mission might be to raise financial partnerships.
But the Vision is to walk in faith that God is your source and provider, and that every partnership is an extension of the Kingdom.
The Mission might be to reach those who have not yet had the opportunity to hear the Gospel.
The Vision will inspire you to find cultural and physical and spiritual solutions; to do whatever it takes to translate the Kingdom into practical Good News.
All this to say, that being a missionary isn’t one simple thing.
It’s not a job description or a title.
It’s to be whatever you need to be, wherever you need to be, to show up, to preach the Kingdom, to serve the Vision, and to walk in obedience.
It’s as simple, and as complicated, as that.
“This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin, I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”— Ezekiel 37:5