You know them… I know them…. Those “missionary people.” I remember them growing up. At first they were just people in photographs. Hung on billboards in the corners of the church. Sometimes with a piece of yarn connecting the picture to some random silver thumbtack on a multicolored map of the world. Some far away place that I’d never heard of and that I was pretty sure I never wanted to visit. I would think to myself “well that’s nice. I guess somebody needs to go there and better them than me.”
Then they arrived. I usually didn’t know ahead of time, but they showed up. At church. Sometimes staying at my house. They seemed a bit awkward. Well, actually, they seemed really awkward. Kind of like a new kid in school. They were usually dressed in clothes at least 10 years out of date, and as an awkward kid myself who wanted to “fit in,” these fashion-challenged people held no appeal.
And they kind of smelled funny. I’m not sure why. Maybe they had either, over time, decided to go with the whole sans-deodorant thing, or maybe they were still using some antiquated deodorant/perfume/cologne from a bygone era. Either way, they smelled funny. And they seemed to have no idea about our current pop culture. About what the popular TV shows were (how could you NOT now what the show ‘The Love Boat’ was??) or who the popular recording artists were (once again, how could you have NOT heard of the Bee Gees?!?!). Oh, and they wanted “support.” I wasn’t entirely sure what this “support” meant but I was pretty sure they were looking for more than just high fives and people saying they were going to pray for them, but not entirely meaning it. They wanted U.S. dollars. And preferably the ones with Benjamin Franklin. Not so much Andrew Jackson and for Pete’s sake nothing with Washington or Lincoln. And as they approached people they seemed unsure of who they were or if they knew them. When they greeted people they smiled and stuck out their hand with that desperate look of “please, please tell me who you are and if I know you so I don’t have to pretend one way or the other…” So the idea of hanging out with, let alone “being” one of these goofy maladroit characters held no appeal to me. At all. Ever.
Until I actually went to one of those random places on the multicolored map with the silver thumbtack. Then I got it. That there’s a whole world out there. An amazing world with amazing people with extraordinary needs. Actually their needs are the same as mine and yours. They need to know the love of Christ, to have healthy relationships with other people, and to have basic human needs met. Some places just happen to have more challenges doing that than others. And so as we embark on our journey to Ethiopia to take part in that amazing country and culture, I wonder if I’m about to be one of “those people.”
The truth is that I probably will. The difference however between “now” and “then” is that I really don’t care. I know I’m called to this and that all the unique parts of my story have come together to prepare me for that. We all have a special path that God has placed us on. This is mine. What’s yours?
p.s. If I smell funny when I return please don’t tell me. I’d just rather not know… Just make sure to tell me your name.
p.p.s And thank you for your “support” 🙂 Click here if you’d like to donate :))