My husband grew up the pale-skinned blond boy in a black and white background of Ecuador. A child of missionaries, he biked deserted dirt roads, rode in airplanes and ate iguana. Immune to the exceptional, he grew up in view of Chimborazo with its peak covered by thin white icing. Missions chose him.
I grew up on a Kansas farm. I played missionary. Two pillars divided our living room from dining room. They were the jaws of Africa. I ran between them snatching imaginary converts from the bowels of hell. I pictured myself chewing fried mice at a campfire, wearing a pith helmet and khaki shorts.
We ended up in Italy, a complex maze of simplicity and sophistication. Weaved into its European heartbeat is an enduring blend of cappuccino, art, pasta, culture and people. At times I hated it. At other times I loved it. Sometimes I both loved it and hated it. Like Kansas wheat, our lives overseas germinated from strange to comfortable. We learned that home had more to do with people than location, and that God crossed oceans. We learned that reality and expectations were often far apart, and that cultural spirituality did not always match Biblical spirituality.
I want to tell that to the fresh young faces before me. I want to say, “Missions will redefine your walk with God. It may feel like an earthquake has shaken your faith, but it is a good thing. Don’t be afraid of it. You will learn to love, for true love loves the soul. Such love will break your heart, and it will strengthen your faith, because it will draw you to the boundless love of the gospel you represent.”
We are in the middle of Candidate Orientation at Avant Ministries, the organization we’ve served with over 30 years. Each time I listen to the hopeful batch of new members, I hear their dreams and I recognize their passion. My own years drop away. I feel again my excitement. I remember my breathless anticipation. I remember joys and sorrows. And, I am grateful. So grateful that God still calls his children, that the grip of missions still tugs. I am grateful that He still finds obedient hearts willing to give up comfortable lives and follow Jesus’ command to go and make disciples of all nations. (Matt. 28:19)
I am grateful for our past and for their futures.
The Great Commission still beckons, pushes and maintains as it did for the kid who ate iguana, and the girl playing missionary on a Kansas farm. I am grateful it will not change with generations.
“… and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:19-20 NASB).
The promise holds firm.