Tuesday, March 6, 2012

ON: Being a Missionary

Yesterday, while reading Francis Chan’s latest book (challenge), I got to thinking about who is Jesus for me?  A facebook friend?  Some one I follow, enjoying his status?  Someone I comment on while reading a note or checking out family photos?  Is he my confidant & comforter?  Trusted to be available, to accept and love me anytime, anywhere?  Or, is he my Lord, Savior, God?  One I would lay down my life for?  One I can’t stop talking about, the one I want everyone in the world to know?  The one I want to spend my days, and eternity, worshiping?

I’ve heard a lot of talk in America about having a ‘personal relationship’ with Jesus.   But, what does that mean?  I think about those I consider my dearest friends, and how difficult (even when I was living in the same town) it is to find time to spend together.  I’m no bible scholar, but I don’t recall too many stories of Jesus and his ‘friends’ squeezing a hour out of their week to meet at Starbucks and call it ‘relationship.’  No, Jesus’s relationships were demanding, exhausting and active.  He didn’t say ‘Hey, let’s catch up next time I’m in town.’  He said, ‘Drope everything (because it’s really nothing) and come with me.’

Some people think that because I live in a Third World Country, I am somehow a ‘different’ sore of person.  That I have a different relationship with Jesus. That the rules or pressures of ‘real’ life don’t apply to my family.  I recently read a visitor to Haiti write ‘I’m not a missionary, I don’t make my own clothes or churn butter.’  Hmmm..  me either.

Our life in Haiti, our life as ‘missionaries’, is in many ways different from our life in American suburbia.  Yet, it is very much the same.  I have chores, goals, deadlines, arguments, conflicts, jokes.  I discipline my kids and worry over their academic performance and social development.  I work with people I don’t like.  I crave comforts, entertainment, and good food.  I clean toilets.  I go to the grocery store.  I forget to read my bible.  I neglect to pray.  I find myself quick to accept praise and quicker to pass blame.

When I first met Jesus, I 'liked' him.  I grew to depend on him, to call on him in the middle of the darkness.  Then, once, when he said ‘follow me,” I did.  It just so happens he was heading to Haiti.

Being a missionary isn't living some ‘other’ life.  It’s saying yes to Jesus in this life.  It's saying, yes, I'll go where he’s going, share what he’s offering, and invite others to follow, too.  I feel blessed to know several missionaries who have followed Jesus in obedience, with sacrifice, into the unknown.  Sometimes they struggle, sometimes they complain, sometimes they question.   Some of them went across the world, some went across the street.  All went with Jesus.