Friday, November 27, 2015

Going from Hero to Foreigner in One Day and Why It's Worth It

You’re on deputation or furlough. Every church welcomes you with smiles. You put up your display, pass out prayer cards, meet and greet, enjoy Grandma’s casserole and Aunt Suzie’s famous coconut cake. You give your testimony and show your DVD presentation. You’re the center of attention. The church is emphasizing missions, and missionaries are the stars. Some churches even treat you very special with gift bags and fruit baskets. Life is good!

You go from church to church. You sing missionary songs. Your heart is full—as it should be. After all, this is your calling and your life! We are missionaries! (Do I hear an Amen?)

The day comes, and you board the plane. It may be the first time or the tenth. You buckle up, sit back, hear the roar of the engines, and you look down on your home country as you soar upwards. Reaching cruising altitude, you’re above the clouds and able to relax—unless you have two toddlers and a baby. In which case . . . you’ll try to relax the best you can, once you get to your field.

Your plane lands, everyone claps for the pilot, and you wait in lines for passport control and baggage. Then comes the next journey—however you get to your city, your town. Ox carts, anyone?

You’re there! On your very own mission field. People look at you funny. Really. Staring. Do you look that strange? You walk by a window and look at your reflection. Yep, you look weird. You’re the foreigner. They can tell! If you open your mouth, it’s even more obvious. What an accent! Even if you’re fluent, the natives gawk at you.

And, you’re not longer a star.

You’re an oddity.

Gone are the flag-festooned missions conferences. 
Here’s where the rubber meets the road. This is missions! This is real missions.

“Lord, send me anywhere.” You sang it last week. Well, now you’re “anywhere.” You asked for it! (Insert smiley face.)

Why is it so different? Why are you so different?

You just became the foreigner. And, on top of that, you’re the foreigner with the foreign message. A God of love? The gospel of peace? The Son of God Who gave Himself for everyone’s sins? It’s foreign to them.

But, it’s for them, just as it is for you!

It’s the best message in the world.

Consider the gospel perspective. Let’s start with John 3:16. Yes, I know you know it by heart—in several languages—but it’s important. We’re going to read through verse 18 to really bring it home to your heart and your field.
  • For God so loved the world, (every single person in the whole, wide world. That’s why you’re going to your field. You really believe this!)
  • that he gave his only begotten Son, (Jesus is the only way!)
  • that whosoever (anyone from any nation)
  • believeth in him (Our mission is to tell them what this means.)
  • should not perish, (What powerful motivation! We want everyone to know how not to go to hell!)
  • but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (Jesus’ purpose in coming to the world is to save it. We can share this!)
  • He that believeth on him is not condemned: (Glory!)
  • but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (Sadly, much of the world is condemned already. We must share the gospel with them!)

It’s our duty. The Apostle Paul understood this. He said, I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise (Romans 1:14). (By the way, Paul was a foreigner, too, when he went to Greece and Turkey.)

God bless you as you share the greatest message in the world. God bless you as you put up with prejudice, hardships, sporadic electricity, lack of heating, washing your veggies in vinegar (and bleach and other stuff), religious opposition, persecution, and all the rest. God help you to make friends where you are—even though you’re different.

God give you fruit for your labor.

It isn’t easy to make the transitions. Each time we cross from one world to the other, we adapt. On most fields, there’s a sense of loneliness and loss. 

That’s why our focus is so very important. It needs to be on Jesus. It needs to be forward, not backward.

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;
who for the joy that was set before him 
endured the cross, despising the shame,
and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:2)

And they sung a new song, saying,
Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof:
for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood
 out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.
(Revelation 5:9)

Just think: in heaven, we’ll all be missionary “stars”—glorified, sanctified, and praising God—beside those who’ve come to Christ on our field. 

Jesus is worthy!


Susan Abbett said...

Absolutely! Can't ever get over that sensation of never really belonging, but one day...we'll all belong, in heaven, with the One who made it all possible!

Jen Bauer said...

Very encouraging! Thank you, Lou Ann. :)