This is something I’ve been struggling with quite awhile.
If I’m being honest, I don’t know if I can even deliver this quite how I want to.
But, I’m going to anyway, so proceed with caution.
Let’s begin with one word: missionary. Most people when they hear this word think Christian going around the world talking about Jesus. But, as I’ve come to know the word, I’ve seen much more to it than just that meaning. When I hear that word I think of plenty of different people, all with different lifestyles and purposes in life. When I think of missionary I don’t enclose the word to just one religion or one gender or one specific characteristic. The only thing I think I could solo out is that they live their lives serving others – the true missionaries at least.
When I think missionaries my mind immediately goes to Honduras (shocker, I know) and my friends who live/work there. Friends like Jenny, Jilli, and Lauren. They’re hilarious, extremely fun to be around, and have amazing hearts. They’re all different, but still love and adore the same exact children. But they don’t go around preaching the word of God. I’m sure they talk about their relationship with God to the kids they deeply know and care about, but their primary focus is not preaching and moving on to the next group.
Instead, they develop relationships. They make connections, they restore trust within children, make them feel the love they deserve, mend the broken-hearted, take care of street kids and show them their worth, and so much more. They care so much about the kids, and the kids in return care so much about them. They develop a deep personal relationship with each of the kids that I hope and pray I can one day have with the kids as well.
But just because they don’t go around proclaiming the gospels doesn’t mean they aren’t missionaries. They do much more than the people who go around proclaiming the gospels could ever do. Just talking about God and leaving is never going to do anything. Maybe it could do something, but chances are it’s not going to affect anyone much.
Think about it – some stranger comes up to you who’s much richer and much better off then you. They live in a giant house and have everything they need, while you barely feed yourself on a day-to-day basis. They have a near perfect family, while yours is torn apart. Everything about them seems perfect, while everything about you feels broken. They come for a week and just talk about Jesus and his love for you, and then leave. No relationships made. You’d really listen to them and change your life around?
In my own belief (which could be wrong) I think that to be a missionary means changing the lives of people. You don’t need to talk about God, you don’t even need to be a Christian. You just have to be willing to make a difference in the lives of others. I get that, for a lot of people, this probably is contradictory to their beliefs, but it’s only true way to change or mend anybody!
In my home community one of the most frustrating things I face when I return from a trip is that after people will ask me what I did and after I list off my gigantic list of activities and with which cute children I did them with, they’ll proceed to ask if I talked about Jesus. In some cases they’ll just begin with the “how was talking about Jesus?”. To be honest, I don’t really mention Christ too much. I pray in front of the kids, I’ll tell them that God loves them and I love them on a bad day, and other little things, but I’ve never preached to anyone. But I still consider myself a part-time (because I have school and can’t be in Honduras all the time) missionary. I don’t have near enough of a deep relationship with these kids to tell them about my faith and talk about theirs. If I’m going to talk about God, I’m going to do it correctly, like I would with any of my close friends back home. I’m not going to just lay it all on someone who barely knows me. When I talk to the kids about my relationship with Him, I want it to have meaning.
So I’m sorry if I just destroyed everything you’ve held about thoughts on missionaries, but this is my belief. I hope and pray that no one is offended by this. I also hope and pray that someone out there will expand their mind on who they choose to call a missionary. I hope that this somehow brings light to what a missionary really is, and that maybe it would be more appealing to others.
Def: Someone who takes action to change and mend the lives of the broken
Ex: Anyone. Any religion. Any gender. Anywhere. Anytime.