Neither here nor there
Eddie is a thought-provoker, but sometimes he asks such obvious questions, questions like, “Are all Christians called to be missionaries?” Obvious answer – “No”. We’re here and they’re there, right?
When I was a teenager, I learnt that a missionary was someone who was holier than the rest of us, who had heard a special call from God, had given up a comfortable life in UK to go to some far off land to take the gospel to people with unpronounceable names. It wasn’t quite the era of taking your coffin with you, but missionaries were supposed to stick it out until they dropped. Most missionaries I met were single women who had made significant sacrifices in faithfulness to what they believed God wanted them to do. At each valedictory service (goodbye and good luck) I was happy that someone else was going and I was staying behind to be a “normal” Christian. I was staying here and they were going there. Phew!
Fast forward twenty years and I was married with three young children. No chance of being a missionary now, or ever! Then I met the Arthurs. No one told me that they carried a health warning! Here they were, missionaries who didn’t fit the mould. They came home from Ivory Coast for a breather and challenged my misconceptions. They were a family, they were normal (or within the normal range!), and at least holy if not holy( +)!
Sue and I were both mums but that’s where the similarity ended. I couldn’t begin to imagine what it was like for her to live in rural Ivory Coast. How did she cope – with the heat, with the threat of malaria, with her work translating the Bible into Kouya, with home schooling the children, with Eddie? I asked her and was rocked by her answer. It went something like this – “It’s much the same for me as for you. We both need to be consistently Christian.” Somehow Sue was able to step back from the detail of circumstances to share the bigger picture of her faith and challenge mine. In effect I heard her say – “I’m there and you’re here, and we’re both where we are because of the God we serve, so you had better get on with it.”
Jesus words in John 20:21 have been significant in helping me develop a different missionary perspective – ” As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” I see now that the special call doesn’t matter, the place doesn’t matter, what does matter is the Jesus has sent me and I am as “sent” here as others are “sent” there. Jesus told his early disciples to be disciples who make disciples. Does he say the same to us? Obvious answer – “Yes”.
So we had better get on with it, whether we are here or there, and pray for each other that we will be consistently Christian until we drop.