We were in Kentucky this past week, working in an Appalachian community. On our last night, one of my youth said
Our life is a mission.
I couldn’t agree more.
The greatest misconception about mission work today is that it is ‘us’ that is ‘doing’ something, when in all reality, mission work is about relationships, about God being present with a people who need hope. We all need hope???that is the wonder of missions. The work is about what God’s presence desires to do in you, in others, and in the world to make His name known.
See, it isn’t the work that impresses any of the neighbors we serve. It isn’t even the fact that we are doing our Christian duty, because remember, it isn’t about the ‘doing’. The real mission is that we take time to hear others stories. Anyone could come and replace electrical wiring or bad outlets. The difference is in the spirit and the attitude in which it is done. We sit and talk when the moments provide themselves, journeying through their story, and learning about their situation. We all have a situation, that is the beauty of conversations and relationships. But there are two sides to every encounter. The conversations we remember most are those where we hear their story and are able to tell our own.
Our conversations with the people we serve don’t revolve around how much they owe us. The fact that we are doing it for free automatically removes the idea of this being a service provided. What we’re providing is love, which in essence, is God’s presence (not sentimentality).
I like this definition of ‘mission’ from Dictionary.com,
‘a shelter operated by a church or other organization offering food, lodging, and other assistance to needy persons.’
The image this creates in my mind is of the Spanish missions from the old Western movies growing up. The stucco buildings with a bell at the top, crowned with a cross. With our lives being extremely mobile these days, there is really no reason for our lives not to be a mission. And if that’s the case, then we should meet this definition, offering gifts of love everywhere we go.
Isn’t it interesting that we separate different aspects of the Christian life when we teach them or talk about them, rather than unify them into one single witness, one cohesive body of operation???evangelism, missions, prayer, worship, hospitality, etc. When we separate these things, we instantly allow people to pick and choose which they like and don’t like, when really they are all important in everyone’s life to some degree (Yet, I know some are gifted in some areas more than others or are called to an emphasis). I’m not an evangelist one minute and a missionary the next. God is doing all sorts of things at the same t
ime by simply being present in my life. It would seem that what we need is a life of presence.
Ask yourself this week how God can be present in each moment, doing various things all at the same time. May God grant each of us His transforming presence in our witness to those around us.
Written with Essay on iPad