One Giant Leap For missions
When I was growing up, just getting to our mission project site in Cambodia was like going to the moon. And I’m pretty sure Apollo 11 astronauts didn’t face mosquitoes or landmines. I remember telling someone in Phnom Penh which village we lived in, and he slowly shook his head. He walked once completely around our 4×4 truck, eyeing it. “You might be able to make it there in this…” We swam and dug our way to Phnom Penh once every three months or so to get our mail and to look for the one or two jars of peanut butter that could be found, sometimes two years past expiration.
The most exciting event of the year (aside from our neighbor finding an unexploded bomb and setting it off while we were on the satellite phone with our supervisor) was when our student missionaries (SMs) arrived. Their clothes had not been washed by hand yet, so they still fit. They bought exciting new books with no sections eaten away by termites. Sometimes they brought Christmas presents from our grandparents or care packages filled with delicious sweet and salty things. Who cares if they were melted!
Before the SMs came, my immediate family was the only source of English conversation, and we already knew all of each other’s jokes. The SMs taught me new jokes, idioms and fresh songs to praise Jesus. I remember SMs explaining the meaning of English words to me like revelation, reckon, chuck (as in throw) and private (a military rank). I would roll each new word or phrase over and over on my tongue. They tasted like jewels.
I even owe the fact that I am a married man today to the SM who taught me the dignity of doing dishes. That was one of the first things Stephanie appreciated about me when we met. To my sisters and me, SMs were among the very few models of true manhood and virtuous womanhood we ever saw besides our parents. They tutored us in various subjects, giving my mom a chance to tackle other duties and needs of mission life. They even helped us move our possessions to higher ground whenever there was a flood.
Our SMs lived in the surrounding villages, planted churches and influenced large areas for Christ where our family alone could never have reached. With their own eyes, they saw the needs of the people and entered into the experience of ministry wholeheartedly. So great were the needs and so dedicated were our SMs that about half of them ended up becoming career missionaries. They are willing to do what Jesus did and leave the comforts of home to become a friend to outcasts and sinners. Sometimes that means going to a place that makes the moon seem like a picnic.
You can make this life-changing experience your own. Go as an AFM student missionary or support the AFM Student Missions fund.