|Photo courtesy of: marin, FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
When you look around on your field, do you see everything and everyone as bad? Let me explain what I mean by using our field (northern Spain) as an example.
- “Everyone” smokes.
- “Everyone” drinks.
- “Everyone” is amoral.
- “Everyone” is pleasure seeking.
- “Everyone” is a bad influence on my children.
- “Everyone” lies.
- “All” the holidays are about false religion.
- There’s pornography in plain view almost everywhere.
- “All” the people use filthy language.
- Most people are atheists or agnostics.
. . . We could go on and on.
What did we expect? I mean, we came to the mission field precisely because the people need Jesus! Did we expect to find Judeo-Christian values? Did we expect those who don’t know the Lord to act as if they did?
I’ve actually met missionaries who see only the bad around them. They’ve written off the natives as bad, bad, bad. And, even worse, they tell their kids not to make friends with "those bad people.” What??!
|Photo from: http://www.nabasque.org|
Let’s use our field (northern Spain) as an example again, this time looking for the positives:
- The Spanish are some of the best cooks in the world.
- The countryside is gorgeous, and people appreciate and take care of nature.
- Every village and city center is historic and beautiful.
- The art and architecture are amazing.
- The people are open and friendly. If you make a friend, you’ll have a loyal friend for life.
- Spanish people have a great capacity for having fun without spending money—walking around the city, hiking, playing at the beach, etc.
- Spanish housekeepers are some of the cleanest people anywhere.
- The culture has been preserved over the centuries. (Some of the holidays have been celebrated every year for over 700 years.) Folk dancing is modest and beautiful. Their songs are really pretty. The poetry and prose are timeless. People honor the old ways. The government helps preserve ancient buildings.
- Spanish people take good care of their elderly and those with disabilities.
- Most Spaniards are family-oriented and have close immediate and extended families.
- Spanish people have a great sense of fashion and style.
. . . We could go on and on.
As a missionary, I would like to propose two focuses. I believe they have completely revolutionized the way I view my field and those around me. They’ve also helped me understand my priorities at any given time. I trust they will help you, too.
- Remember your purpose. “I am in this country to share the gospel with lost people and to disciple Christians.” Anything I do should further this goal.
- Remember what God wants for your thought life. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Philippians 4:8). “I will train my brain to think on the positives. I will meditate on the Lord Himself and on His Word. I will sing hymns of praise to God in my head throughout the day."
So, get out of the house and make friends. Enjoy the culture. Enjoy the people. Take part in community functions when you can. Let people see God’s love through you. Compliment the native people on their positives. Encourage them. Take every opportunity to share Christ.
No one enjoys being with a negative person. No one will listen to a judgmental person. Many times, people are drawn to Christ through a smile, friendliness, and your sweetness in personal relationships. They'll see you have something special.
Don’t let your negativity be a secret place or a bushel. Let your light shine from the candlestick! No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light (Luke 11:33).
If there be any virtue, and if there be any praise,
think on these things.