I’d like to say a little more on my thoughts on being a missionary today. It’s really tied up with how my wife and I see the bigger picture of spreading the kingdom of heaven throughout the earth. We don’t have every angle covered here – far from it. But it’s something we’ve recently been thinking over again.
If we felt God leading us to be in Vietnam, China, or any other country, I would assume that I would take up work there and we’d become like normal citizens and contributors back to the community where we lived, then let the Lord reveal himself through us living our lives right along side others in our domain. Our first inclination would be to do exactly what we’re doing right now, only in another country. We’re being the church, and continue growing into being the church, in every way he leads us. God has us here in the pacific northwest of USA, but we don’t have a different understanding of what it means to be the church for different places of the planet. I’ve written elsewhere on this blog some related thoughts on this topic.
A fundamental belief of mine is that people everywhere need to see what the loving Father in heaven is like, and they see it by interactions with us of many kinds, a primary one being watching is go through the same life they go through, yet consistently, day after month after year, there’s something different in our lives. It’s the kindness of God poured out on us, and since we’re living under the same life burdens as others, they see a gospel that they can embrace. It’s essentially the message of Jesus’ life, who humbled himself and became like us, was tempted in the same ways yet without sin, and seeing this we are further enabled to embrace his Father as our own.
As Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” In my own words, God wants to dump his kindness on us, in front of others, to show everyone what kind of Father he really is, so they’ll want him too, and he’ll get the chance to have relationship with them.
Now, we realize many followers of Jesus have chosen to try living in other countries on a long-term basis with a different approach than finding gainful employment in a community there. This usually amounts to some form of raising financial support from the generosity of others who are employed, and thus is similar to the concept of “full-time Christian work.” We have dear friends that we love and respect who do this. We don’t have to all agree on this stuff to stay side by side in the Kingdom. But the way they are going about trying to live in the foreign country is not the first approach we would naturally take ourselves, and so it is not aligned with the natural flows of our faith and passion for being the church in our world today. It’s in these situations that we often find the best we can do to support them is simply pray that God make his way clear to them and bless their faith and obedience to him.