Monday, April 26, 2010

Non-Resident Missionary: The Glamor Is Not The Journey But The Purpose

This has been a busy year so far in teaching. Seven weeks in India, another week in Ukraine. I’m now on my way back to India for two weeks then later this year it will be Kenya, Romania, maybe Kyrgyzstan and then back to India latter part of the year. Each time I leave someone asks me if “I’m excited,” about my trip.

Travelling is not something to get excited about. I don’t fly business class so it’s 8 to 16 hours of cramped space and lousy food. I don’t excited about standing in line to go through immigration and customs. I don’t excited about jet lag, being dog tired at 9 p.m. only to be wide awake at 1 a.m. About the time I get adjusted to a different time zone I head home and have to go through it all over again. I get anxious about my accommodations as I teach for different organizations. Most times I am well taken care of, but sometimes I share my bedroom with mosquitoes, near a road with non-stop traffic noise. I don’t get excited about the food, though I enjoy most of what I am served.

What’s the trade off? Why, after years of doing this, do I continue? It’s for the things I do get excited about.

I get excited about teaching/discipling men and women on how to take the message of Christ in a cross-cultural context. I get energized when a pastor lights up because I’ve given him tools for him to effectively reach his community with the Gospel. I get an adrenalin rush when I help people see the importance of having a strategy for mission. I feel blessed when I can help a local church comprehend their role in the Great Commission and become focused on unreached people groups.

I am very much aware that age is catching up with me. The steps up the ramp are becoming more of a challenge; it takes a longer time for my body to recharge. What is intriguing to me is that the time when I (and most people) have the most to give because of life experiences it’s when physically I am waning. It's been well said that about the time you learn how to live, it's time to die. I’m hoping I will be able to continue my role as a non-resident missionary for at least another ten years, but some things are not in my hands.

Am I excited about this trip? No on the travel part, but very excited about the reason for the journey. If I ever lose the zeal for the purpose then I will know it’s time to hang it up.