Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Calling of the Missionary (and average Christian)

I have been thinking recently about my calling as a missionary here in Peru. Here I have left behind many things in my culture to come live and serve in this place. I am committed to living, working and serving with the people here. I didn't come to Cusco first, check it out and then decide that it was the best place to serve. I just came because I knew that God was calling me to come. There's a lot of trust in that and also the possibility of your commitment crashing with the reality of the situation.

We are always going to face problems and encounter immature and imperfect people in our path. The problem with being a Christian is that we cannot just write those people off. The even more complicated problem for a missionary is the commitment to serving the church and the people and the culture. What if the person who is in authority over you makes unwise decisions that don't seem to be led by the Spirit? As missionaries here we work with and under the authority of the local church. We live a delicate balance as people who are from the outside but working under the national church. We have an outside perspective and can sometimes see the problems for what they are but we also are not the ultimate authority. The purpose of missions is to raise up a national church that can function and flourish on its own. That's the point and that's what we are trying to get to in Cusco.

So, like all things that are in transitions there's such a thing as growing pains. I've recently had one of those type of growing pain situations - where I clashed with my authority and found him to be an imperfect human functioning in a leader role. What will my response be? I cannot give up on the Mennonite church here because of a bad situation or because people have let me down. I must seek restoration, I must seek redemption and I must press forward in the work with optimism. I am committed to the work and I am sent to serve here.

That seems like a very self-sacrificing missionary minded thing to say but I think it's actually closer to what God calls the "average" Christian to as well. God does not call us as Christians to work under spotlessly perfect situations or authority figures. Sometimes we face situations and people in the church that could discourage us from continuing to work and serve in the body. Those with the character of Christ will continue to press on and love those who've hurt of disappoint them. That is the calling of everyone who calls himself a "Christian" - to look like Christ and to love like Christ.

So my prayer in this situation is to respond in love and humility. I cannot do it in my own strength but with the strength of Christ I can do all things! AMEN!!!

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