I am grateful for the waiting season before I stepped onto the mission field. When I first felt the spiritual promptings, I wasn’t able to see a clear vision. Mission work was not inspired in my childhood. It was on a walking tour of Mazatlan that I first felt the desire to be less of a tourist and move about with the locals. Soon thereafter, my friends returned from Africa with their mission field testimonies. My young daughter said she wanted to go and I was always receptive to her aspirations. We kept the dream kindled for each other.
I’ll write one day soon about the times I felt inferior to the call– as if it was my will rather than God’s calling. Those emotions were all a part of His preparation for such a time as this. I can see that now.
I am grateful for the intimate opportunity we have had with missionary families to know the reality of their life. I am grateful for the people who spoke gently to me about the damage short-term missions can do. As with much in our world, our charity often has ulterior motives. Those on the receiving end of open hands can sometimes be enabled by tangible hand-outs more than encouraged to sustain themselves. It is a challenge to know that discernment in the secular world or the Christian world. Thankfully, in the Christian world, the God who controls the oceans tide also controls His children with promptings of the Holy Spirit.
With local missions and our international experience, I did not want to come to the mission field puffed with pride. It is so hard to blend in when your outward appearance is so blatantly obvious. Even in organic cultures that are not yet perverted by civilization, there are ill effects of well-meaning Americans showing up like Santa Claus with a sack of toys. Since the beginning of time, the heart of man has known the sin of greed. How can this be of people who have so little?
It is the same motivation that causes parents to trample other people’s children for candy at a parade. A visit to the happiest place on earth (Disney World) can show you what happens when they hand out freebies or open the gate. We look so unattractive grasping for another trinket or fighting for first place. Even more ugly is seeing the leftovers trampled on the ground after the crowd disperses.
We come to the mission field with open hearts, no agendas, no expectations. Our hands and feet move but slow down to restore both mentally and physically. We must be still and in the Word to hear God’s prompting for our next step. We must rely on the fulltime missionaries to take us where we need to go and prepare us for the cultural issues we need to be aware of.
We have been humbled the last two days to visit homes door-to-door. People are quite hospitable and polite. We have many stories to share from our experiences. We come to them to invite them to our evening activities in their village. We have met many believers in our home visits.
But haven’t we come to find the lost…those who don’t know Jesus?
Yes, we absolutely love the opportunity to witness to lost souls just as a hunter longs to find a 12-point buck.
There are many desperate folks in Belize, struggling with economic and sociological issues. What we are finding are seeds that have been planted that we are watering. Coming along side brothers and sisters in Christ to encourage them to stay faithful. We do find new ground to plant seeds and many places with land that needs to be prepared for planting. This is what I am loving about Belize. There is hope yet much uncultivated ground needing seeds of hope.
We met this family today on our door to door visits. His testimony was encouraging. As with many families here, the women shoulder much of the work. Many men are addicted to alcohol leaving the women to find ways to make money and raise the children. There is abuse. Some abuse is horrific; all of it is senseless.
We are coming alongside the people here with our outward appearance of joy, ready to be transparent and share our testimonies of addictions, violence, and sins that separate us from God. Notice that I did not say, “separated us”… That’s because we will never perfect our faith walk until the other side of heaven. These people need to know that modern conveniences don’t make life better. They keep us at a distance from fully relying on God. We see people with so little but who are rich. They have the gift of hope. Our prayer is to equip the believers to continue evangelism in their neighborhoods. To be an example of a life worth living. To be an encouragement to one another. To grow in faith so they might change the world around them.
I used to wonder why we sent people across the globe rather than using the money to help the people– pour it into the community with construction jobs, educational opportunities, and assistance programs. These things are needed just as they are in the United States. But if you do not change the motive of the heart, sin takes over every tangible opportunity. This is a lesson we must rectify in our economy and through international missions as well.
If you think we should only take care of our own people, you have no clue how entangled the U.S.economy regulates the pulse of international climates. If we do not heal the world, we will soon crumble because there is no foundation on which to stand. If you think there are refugees and immigration issues now, try to envision the next decade.
When Christ gave us the last and greatest command to love one another, He meant for it to be carried out until His return. Don’t be deceived that we need to take care of just our own people. It would do us all well to step outside our boxes to gain new perspective. We might be impacted far beyond the charity of the Christmas season and the temporary feel-good that will fade by the New Year. Speaking from my own experience, we might recalibrate life to see we need less privileges and “me-time” to appreciate the reality of receiving our daily bread.
Love your neighbor as yourself?
What are we doing to ourselves? Do we really want that life for our neighbors? Let’s examine our own porch before we step off it lest we live up to our stereotype of loud, obnoxious Americans.
We’ve earned that stereotype. How can we change it?