Thursday, March 12, 2015

“That is the thing about the world: it isn't that things are harder than you thought they would be, it was that they are hard in ways that you didn't expect.” ― Lev Grossman

No one ever said that being a missionary would be all smiles, joy, and laughter.  If they did, they were dead wrong and very foolish.  Of course, there are smiles, joy, and laughter, but it comes at a price.  The price is discipleship.  Too many people call themselves Christians and yet never do what Christ called them to do.  These so-called Christians never pick up their crosses and follow Jesus.  They don’t really believe there will be a judgement day, but they will be the ones (Matthew 25: 35-40) that Christ will claim He doesn’t know.  They use the church and their faith to justify their lifestyles and to allow themselves to feel free from guilt.  There is no redemption without price.  Christ said to save your life you must lose it, not that all you have to do is say some words, join a church, and your obligation to Him is over.  So very many who call themselves Christian never feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick, or visit the prisoner.  These people who call themselves by the name of Christ do not forgive others, never turn the other cheek or walk the extra mile.  These sing hymns, hold hands, pray loudly, and live as if Christ truly died 2,000 years ago and is not now living and holding us all to a higher calling.  Being a missionary is not a badge of honor in the church because many missionaries make very little sacrifice and live lives of fullness and plenty.   A blogger I read occasionally, Denny Heiberg, wrote about this calling it “The Lure of Nondiscipleship Christianity."  You can read his blog here: http://seedbed.com/feed/the-lure-of-nondiscipleship-christianity/  
      Missionaries may be seen as more Christian than others but only if we, too, are living as Christ has called us to live.   Some missionaries take their work and their calling very seriously, as all Christians should.  A young woman missionary from Canada is serving in the maternity ward of a hospital in Shinyanga, Tanzania.  I met her when she came to Bunda last month to buy a biosand filter for her ward.  I tried to give it to her, but she insisted on paying.  She is the kind of missionary I would like to be.  Her name is Alida Fernhout and yesterday she posted this on Facebook:
     “Sometimes I wonder if my heart has become callused and rough from the constant death and grief. I get angry at the injustice but I don't cry often.  But every 6 weeks or so, something minor or unrelated will rip off that tough surface of my heart and the tenderness will reveal itself again.  Today it happened while biking down the highway in the 32 degree heat. I was sweating and felt parched. I saw a procession of utterly silent men walking down the side of the highway. At the front were men who were taking turns carrying the small wrapped body of a young child. A funeral procession.  I immediately had chills, became cold, the hair on my arms was standing up. I didn't know this child. But how many [dead] babies have I silently wrapped in their mothers kanga's (cloth), carefully tucking up their chins and covering their faces. And I realized I had lost count.
I felt cold and grieved the rest of the ride home. And was relieved that my heart is capable of feeling stripped and vulnerable again . . .”
     This young woman seems to be doing so much more than we are, yet we are both doing what we can, where we are, with what we have, and every true, authentic Christian can do that—and must do that.  Our mission feeds orphans every day here in Tanzania, but your mission field surrounds you right where you are.  Within a few miles of every Christian’s home are hungry children, homeless people, widows, orphans, addicts, alcoholics, battered women, women in crisis, bullied children, and children and young people in danger of taking their own lives.  You are surrounded by people who will never know the peace the hope of Christ can bring unless you reach out to them.  The measure of your Christianity is not measured by the number of Sundays you spend in church, but the number of moments you are obedient and available to Christ to spread His light and love to those who are currently living in darkness whatever the price. 
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