Recently I was talking with a fellow worker about missions and God’s work around the world. It seems we have romanticized missions to make it attractive and appealing to the young and the energetic. Though we can try to attract young people to missions, there is a very unromantic part of missions which we do not talk about much. So, if you allow me to deromanticize missions for a moment, I would like to show you a bit of the reality of missions.
The reality of missions is that missionaries have many mundane tasks and responsibilities. Though we live in a foreign country, eat foreign foods, and buy foreign products, we still live, eat, buy, sell, repair, etc.
Recently my shoe repair abilities have become the joke at church. I cannot tell you how many pairs of shoes I have glued over the past four years here in Rondônia. Any shoes that have been stored for a while without use can easily come unglued because of the heat. We have saved hundreds of dollars by gluing those shoes back together, but it takes time and effort.
Last week I asked myself, “what have I done all week?” Though I know I had done some planning, praying, and preparing for certain tasks, there was nothing to show for it. My week seemed very dull and uninteresting. It must have been dull because it is hard to remember!
As missionaries, we write letters to our churches about the “interesting” things that happen. However, most of our lives are filled with routine tasks. It is not every day that I am out with wild Indians, canoeing down the river, fighting off the alligators! We only do those things on special occasions. Normally, we take care of things like mowing the grass, writing emails, paying bills, fixing the car, making visits, going to church, picking people up for church, cleaning, cooking, and many other routine events. In other words, most of our lives are “nothing to write home about”. Yet, we press on knowing that God is using us in our routine tasks.
Our unromantic missionary lives have us doing what many do in the US every week. Recently I spent several days trying to transfer the tags on my car to the city we moved to last year. I had to run to the bank several times, take the car to the DOT several times and have the car inspected. Though a bit more bureaucratic than in the US, it was nothing to write home about.
Politics play their role on the foreign field just as they do in the US. News of the presidential elections in the US has kept us just as interested as the former president being arrested here in Brazil. Both are playing a role in the value of the dollar. The dollar dropped almost forty cents due to the prospect of a new government here in Brazil. You may ask what all of this has to do with missions. It has everything to do with missions. We live in Brazil, so every day we use the Brazilian currency which we receive when we exchange dollars. We use this currency to pay church bills, support missionaries, and put gas in our car to pick people up for church.
Once in a while we have a great opportunity that comes with a unique story. However, if we think missions is all about the unique stories and experiences we can become bored with our lives. We may even think that God is not using us because our lives do not match up to Adoniram Judson, Hudson Taylor, John and Betty Stam, Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, or many of the other missionaries whose biographies we have read and who are now our heroes.
The truth is that God is interested in faithful men. So many churches are hurting for help. There are dozens of cities around us that are calling for laborers. The closest church to them that preaches the Gospel may be a hundred miles away or much more than that. The task is great. It requires faithful men to stay the test of time and be an example of the believer to those around them.
So many times people are looking for a path to fame. Missions is not a path to fame! Missions is not a road to success! Missions is simply a matter of obedience. It is taking the Gospel to those around you.
Globalization has made the task of becoming a missionary a bit easier. Yet, the task seems much harder because we are challenged with new thoughts and philosophies that threaten Christianity. We are challenged by materialism, gadgets, and entertainment. We are taught that we can be anything we want to be in this world. If you want to be a doctor, you can be a doctor. If you want to be a musician, you can be a musician. However, that thought is faulty when it comes to missions. The idea has come across that we can be William Carey, Amy Carmichael, Bruce Olson, Jonathan Goforth, David Brainerd, or even like Paul. Yet, the truth is that we need only to be what God wants us to be. We need to be faithful! We need to be obedient!
Now, returning to the original thought, missions is not always the romantic idea we may read about in the biographies. Missions is a simple obedience to the Great Commission! Prepare your Sword, put on your shield of faith, wear your work gloves, put on those steel toe boots, find your trowel, and mix up the mortar! Nehemiah 4:18 says, “For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded.” We should never stop working while we wait for God to give us “something to write home about.”
I Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”