Called to Serve
I recently had the honor of having four missionaries gather in my home. I was not the organizer, nor an attendee. In conversation, the organizing hostess shared how she had an urgency to connect these women, but had not yet found a suitable quiet place for them to visit. My heart stirred and I knew I was to open my home. I confess I had an ulterior motive; I was eager to be in the background and eavesdrop. I wanted to hear their stories as they met for first time.
Three of these women served on the foreign mission field. Two served in countries where Christianity is illegal. One served alongside of her husband as he traveled domestically working for a Christian publisher, and later in church ministry. Three women are widows; two of them lost their husbands while serving on the foreign mission field.
And all four of them are in a what-is-next season.
As they shared their stories, tears ran down my face.
They shared stories of adjusting to the foreign cultures and learning to speak the language. They told of living in countries where all their correspondence was monitored and any faith-based communication was in code. They lived among the people they ministered to, sometimes with the poorest of the poor. They lived without electricity, in a country where the summer temperatures reached 120 degrees inside and the winters were brutally cold. Their diet was limited to what was available; often just bread and a few fresh vegetables. They lived in cities where paganism was the primary religion and pagans would surround their church, chanting and pounding drums hoping to intimidate.
They witnessed God physically heal people in ways that our American culture would consider radical. They told about God changing lives through their ministry and how their own lives were changed as they served. All of them were willing to be the hands and feet of Jesus; they loved faithfully those the Lord placed in their paths.
They openly shared how much they missed being away from their loved ones while they were serving; yet, now that they are back home, they are grieving. Their hearts long for the ministry they left behind, for the people they knew and the ones they had yet to meet. They are struggling to find their new normal and discern what God has planned for them.
As they prayed over one another, I listened to their powerful words. Their faith is strong. They don’t just believe the Lord is hearing their prayers, they know He is. They have walked out their faith in hard places and trusted God to meet all their needs. They testify of His goodness and His faithfulness. They are filled with compassion for the cast-out, the hungry, and the lonely. They have been obedient to God’s commandment to love one another.
I cried ugly tears of conviction. I am such a soft, whiny Christian. I want the blessings and favor of God, but I am hesitant to get out of my comfort zone. I want to see lives changed, but I have not been doing anything about it. Even though I know the calling of God on my life, I have been lolly-gagging. I want the end result, but I haven’t been putting in the sweat-equity.
When these amazing women asked if they could pray over me, I became a snotty-nosed mess. I didn’t deserve such an honor. As they had done for each other, they prayed Heaven down over me. I felt the warmth of their hands penetrate the icy-cold parts of my heart. And something ignited…I knew I wanted the same passion for my mission field as they had for theirs.
As a follower of Christ, I am a missionary. If you are a follower of Christ, you are a missionary. We may not be called to serve in a third-world country, but we are called to serve where we are: in our city, our neighborhood, our workplace, and our home. We are to use our God-given passions, talents, skills and abilities in His service. We are the hands and feet, and heart, of Jesus. We should sense an urgency to reach out to the cast-out, feed the hungry and to comfort the lonely. We must be obedient to God’s commandment to love one another.
God often does not reveal the full plan He has for us. We must trust Him to lead us, day-by-day, step-by-step, and breath-by-breath.
So fellow missionaries, it’s time to get busy. We have work to do and neighbors to love.
And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39