Missionaries are different. Living life in a second culture, different is to be expected. No matter how much they try to accommodate, learn, and adapt to another way of life, the reality is that they will always be different. For the most part, I do not mind being different. In fact, part of me enjoys the challenge and experience of operating in a second culture and language. I will say, though, that I look forward to furloughs, the time when I can go back “home” and reconnect with my ethnic roots, and just blend in. However, each time I come back, I am struck with the hard reality that I am still different.
Recently, I was visiting a church here in the States and was having a conversation with a church member that I had just met. The conversation went something like this:
Church member: “So where do you live?”
Church member: “Wow, what are you doing there?”
Me: “I am a missionary.”
Church member: “Really!?” (said with a look of surprise and amazement as if he had never encountered a cross-cultural worker).
As I have reflected on that conversation and the surprised looks that I get when I tell people (even church members) that I am doing full-time mission work in Thailand, I cannot help but wonder why people should find this to be such a strange thing? Didn’t Jesus tell us to go into all the world? Isn’t our mission to venture to cross-cultural and ethnic boundaries to bring the Gospel to lost people?
I long for the day when missions become such a part of the DNA of the church that it will be considered odd not to be involved in some way. Friends, the harvest is great, the laborers are few, the billions of unreached people in this world are waiting for more missionaries to come to them. Will you join me in praying for more workers and for a new normal to take hold in our churches?