I Am A Missionary…And You Can Be One Too!

Eighteen years ago when I graduated from college, I wrestled with the decision of my career choice.  Should I enter the “mission field” by serving in “full-time ministry” or should I enter the workforce?  I was graduating from an excellent school with a mechanical engineering degree and roughly $12,000 in student loans.  I knew I needed to pay off these loans, and I knew that God had given me knowledge and skills that would be useful in the traditional workplace.

As I wrestled through this decision, I came to the conclusion that I needed to use my skill in the workplace with an engineering job in the United States.  I could utilize the financial gain from this decision to pay off my student loans and to help support missionaries who were serving away from home.  I also believed that there were plenty of non-Christians in and around the workplace who needed to learn of God’s love.  I believed I could share this through my words and especially through my actions – my example.

Fast forward 18 years, I go on a short term missions trip to Guatemala.  Most of the kids who came on the trip weren’t even born when I graduated from college.  (Yes, this trip made me feel old in some ways, but that’s another blog post!)  In leading up to this trip, it was the prompting of my wife and our youth pastor that encouraged me to take the leap of faith to go on this trip.  Having never been on an overseas missions trip of any kind, I thought my ultimate decision to go was the noble decision to make.  After all, I would have the chance to be a missionary!

I had that chance.  You’ve been reading about it the past few days, and I’m sure I’ll share more stories from this adventure in upcoming blog posts.  I built a house for a family; I installed stoves for those in need; and I shared the love and message of Jesus Christ with complete strangers in a foreign land.  How cool is that?  How do you not feel good about yourself after jumping into this kind of adventure?  Talk about a sacrifice.  (Do you sense the pride and lack of humility in these questions?)

Don’t get me wrong when you hear what I’m about to share.  God needs missionaries in foreign lands.  Missionaries have an opportunity to improve the lives of those in poverty and to bring a message of hope to people who need this message.  I definitely plan and hope to go on other overseas missions trips again in the future.

But I re-discovered something when I came back home.  When our group exited the Newark airport on the way home, we were trying to get one last group photo before we got on the bus to go home.  As we stood outside the baggage claim, there were hundreds of people walking by us.  We just needed one of them to take a picture for us.  We asked one person who responded, “No, I’m in a hurry.”  We asked a second person who responded, “I’m in a rush, sorry.”  We asked a third, fourth, and fifth person, and we received similar responses.  Finally, someone reluctantly agreed to snap a picture of our group.  When I came back into work on Monday, I heard people yelling and cursing about there present circumstances.  I listened as people treated each other with anger and disdain.

What did I re-discover when I came back home?  The mission field is right around me where I live and where I work.  I am called to be a missionary right where I am.  In words and especially in actions, I have a message to share with others, and so do you.  I am a missionary!  And you can be one too!  Will you join me?

When you think of the word missionary, what image comes to mind?  Where are you serving these days?