Mission: Same Call, Different Locations

It’s been interesting to talk to the friends here and hear about their work. So many of them feel like they aren’t actually doing much—but they are, through living faithfully where the Lord has planted them. . . . All of us are called to live faithfully wherever we’re planted in the world and to make the most of every opportunity. All of us are called to love the people around us and seek justice for the oppressed—it just looks a little different for each of us. It’s not that one’s better or higher in any way. I’ve known all of this, but by listening to them, I guess I understand it better. Not at all to diminish what they’re doing here—it is a distinct and challenging call. But the day to day living it out might not actually look that different. 

—Journal entry, May 2011, East Asia

I loved listening to their stories—the adventures, the food, the language blunders, and the snake stories. As I got older, I marveled at the work God was doing around the world and at these modern-day heroes who left behind everything to traverse the jungles and villages of the world for the sake of the Gospel. Each year, my childhood church hosted a missions conference, providing a time for each of the missionaries we supported to share about their work. Each year, I soaked it up. Each year, I wondered if someday I would go to a far off land.

I knew I didn’t want a “normal” life. Increasingly this came to mean that perhaps I would go serve overseas or at least go into ministry. It wasn’t until later that I would come to understand that this life on mission is always the "abnormal" adventure of the Christian. What varies is not the mission—but the location. 

I saw this fully lived out when I spent the summer in East Asia. There I was, finally among these missionaries in the field, and their lives were remarkably normal. They took care of their children. They did the slow work of building relationships with their neighbors and coworkers. It was the slow and steady work of God.

I realized that what it all came down to was faithfulness and dependency, which is the lifeblood of our life with Christ regardless of our locale. In some ways this is harder in the States, where I’m more comfortable with the language and the culture. Here, it’s easy to forget how dependent I am or how much is at stake. But regardless of where we are, we should trust the Lord for the strength for each step, praying for his guidance over our steps each day. We should be looking for the Lord’s provision and seeing Him come through, even for something as simple as a friend. Prayer should be our lifeline and our natural instinct. We should be walking through our days with eyes wide open, ready to seize every opportunity. These are not special features of ministry in a foreign country. They are the heartbeat of a life on mission.

Our mission, our call, is to be faithful disciples who are making faithful disciples. We are called to spread the news of and live into the reality of the Kingdom of God, won and exemplified in Jesus Christ. The question is not this call, it’s the location in which we live it out. I’m no longer worried about figuring out the where question—I know that embracing this missional call we’re all a part of will set me out on the adventure of following Christ, and He will be sure to guide my feet.