An unlikely missionary

I never think of myself as a missionary
…but I have been one for 7 months.
I have avoided calling myself a missionary
…and occasionally cringe when others do.
I often don’t want to ‘be’ a missionary
….but I do want others to meet the God who saved me.

in Cambodia

in Cambodia

Perhaps I hate to call myself a ‘missionary’ because it comes with all sorts of stereotypes….most causing people to shut down before they even talk with you. These are just a few that I have personally come across:

…that you are some sort of fanatic that cannot relate with real life

…that you will always be poor

…that you will constantly be asking people for money

 ….that it is an excuse for an international vacation

 ….that you will be socially awkward

…that you will be pushy with your beliefs

…that you must be a judgmental jerk

…that you even might start smelling bad!

Ouch. Seriously…whether or not this is the unfortunate exception becoming the rule, I have a hard time being all about it.

But titles and stereotypes aside, what is a missionary? What is the difference between those that truly love and serve God at home and those who fundraise and spend a portion of their life being the hands and feet?

At the end of the day, missionary life is just life. Apart from fundraising …that favorite word that has been hanging over my head for the past year…and extra time to focus on serving God, the day is still made up of moments and hours where choices are made. The same struggles, the same fears, and the same weaknesses.

Perhaps it seems easier to be intentional here. Perhaps sometimes it is….with no home, no stability, constant changes, and constant challenges as a reminder to focus. But more often it is harder. The struggles are the same, but here they are heightened. There is still rejection. Loneliness. More valleys than mountaintops. Exhaustion. Even depression at times. And the road does not get easier with being intentional.

 But His strength can appear in weaknesses.
And His glory in the middle of our struggles.
IF we fix our eyes

I have not been able to find the word ‘missionary’ in the Bible. This helps soothe my fear in admitting that I don’t really want to be one.

But we are called to be ambassadors for Christ….a messenger or representative. Ok, I can get behind that. Sometimes a message is needed, and sometimes a representation is needed. Sometimes love needs to be spoken. Sometimes love just needs to be shown.

This month’s ministry has been Unsung Heroes – researching and meeting with new contacts doing great things for God that future racers can partner with. These are slow months.  You spend more time researching, praying, and waiting on responses to emails than you do actually meeting with people.

But if this month is flexible schedules and freedom, it is also about divine appointments. There have been a number of these this month, but one of them stands out today.

This past week we spent time at the beaches of Cambodia, making friends with backpackers on vacation there. One morning, I woke up and asked God to meet people He was pursuing. A very short time later, as a teammate and I ate breakfast in the hostel lobby, a guy came and sat down – introducing himself and talking to us. At one point, he started telling us about these Christian missionaries he had met in his last hostel that, to his anger, had made him their target for conversion. He then jokingly asked ‘You’re not Christian missionaries are you?’

 *our surprised silence*

 When we told him that yes, we actually were, he was not happy at all……but he didn’t leave either. He continued talking and we continued listening. It was not a moment for the message; it was a moment for representation. He later thanked us for not pushing him. Over the week, he sat and talked with us often.

We are in a world that wants immediate results: to measure success, to own what counts, and to be gratified by efforts. But as one contact said, people are not projects.

The Kingdom cannot be measured, owned, or earned –
God writes His stories on people’s lives with the pursuit of a thousand moments.

In aiming for immediate results, it is more comfortable to judge. It is easier to portray ourselves as the ones who have our lives together. We like to try to forget our brokenness. We somehow manage to overlook that we are saved by grace. We lose sight that He loved us first and that we came to Him a total mess.

But remember with me again today – when our darkness became light. At the end of ourselves, when grace interrupted and wrecked us. How beautiful His face was in that moment. Whether at home or traveling, let’s be intentional ambassadors of His acceptance and love. It is only in the messiness that grace shines.

 Regardless of what you know about God, know this today – He loves you.
You do not have to earn His love. In fact, you can’t possibly earn it. I certainly did not.
God doesn’t treat us like we fear deep down He will.
If you are still searching for the love that does not fail, it is Him.

 He already accepts you completely. But will you accept Him?

 

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Sara Wingate and Lauren Rogers became friends through a young adults group in Winston Salem. This past summer they both flew the coop for different adventures. Currently, Sara travels from country to country with the World Race sharing the love of Christ across the nations. She is a talented artist, writer and encourager and you can find her journey here! We are so blessed to be able to host Sara here today and we pray her words bring you closer to Him.

sarawingate2

This post was first published on Sara’s World Race blog, which can be found if you click on this adorable picture of her and the oxen.

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