More Good Stuff About Being A Missionary
My last blog was “10 Things Your Missionary Won’t Tell You.” It received more comments, private emails, and Facebook shares than any blog that I have ever written. 99% of those comments were in agreement to what was said. I am following that blog up with some brain dump good stuff items. Here is part 2.
We may not realize it, but you have been programed to think a certain way about almost everything. This indoctrination has happened over your life and is what makes us creatures of our culture. It is your worldview…how you see and interpret the world. So much of what we think and perceive is from our culture. This is true even when it comes to studying the Bible. We do not remove our cultural lenses when it comes time to read God’s Word. One thing that has happened to us since leaving for the mission field is that we have had an opportunity to look at things differently. We live in a culture that does not see things the way that we have always seen them. That has challenged our thinking. The way that we do things does not always mean that it is the only way, or the right way. We get to evaluate things. I believe that living in a different culture actually helps us understand life, our own culture, and the Bible better.
Molehills Do Not Become Mountains.
There is a tendency in the States to define ourselves and then narrow our definition even more until we reach a point where only those who agree with us in every area can be friends…maybe they are not even christians. :) Charismatics do not associate with Baptists. Baptist choose their specific group to hang with…such as Freewill, Sovereign, North, South, etc. and pretty much do nothing with anyone else. And don’t get me going on the Presbyterians. :)
We have gone from the foundational doctrines being what we build upon to using all of the little doctrines to destroy each other. Every molehill is a mountain.
However, on the field we are foxhole buddies. We are in this together. What matters is Jesus. We focus on the essentials of the orthodox faith and do not choke to death on what you believe about the end times. It is great. We can be friends, good friends, with people who disagree with us on the minor doctrines. I have friends who are pentecostal, others are ‘really’ charismatic :), then I have my über Calvinist and my evangelical Methodist. There are the conservative Baptist who never say nothing about my wife wearing pants, and the non-denominational that love being at my parties. The molehills are easy to step over when you are climbing a mountain together.
Helping The Poor
You know that you should help the poor. You really do know that. The only problem is, that most of us that live in the States have had two things happen to us. The first is that we don’t really know anyone who is poor. The second is that our culture (see the worldview section) has convinced us that helping the poor is hurting the poor. When I was a pastor in the States, I had two Bible verses that formed the entirety of my theology of the poor. The first was, “the poor you have with you always’ and the second was “If a man doesn’t work, then he doesn’t eat.”. That was it.
Things are different here in the poorest country in all the Americas. The poor are not some enemy of culture or lazy people trying to live off of the government, both of whom are nameless straw men designed to make us feel good for not helping them. Nope, the poor are real people. They have real stories. They have names. They have families. They are alive. 99% of them are hardworking and trying the best that they can. To be honest, they are you, my dear reader, if you had been born here instead of there.
I get to help the poor. It is so satisfying. I have been able to feed people that had no food, to clothe people that had no clothes, to pay for surgeries that saved lives, to buy medicine for those who couldn’t, and to give dental treatment for the first time ever to others. I have had the joy of building 12 homes and two churches for the poor and for poor communities. It is wonderful. I love helping the poor in Jesus’ name.
Cool Experiences With My Family
This is way up there on the awesome list. I mentioned in my blog that missionaries won’t tell you that many times we feel like our children suffer because they don’t get to do all the neat things that your kids do. However, the flip side of that coin is that they do get to do some fun things. They have camped in the Amazon forest while serving a poor community and building a church. They have canoed down Amazon rivers and had monkeys jump on their shoulders (one had a monkey pee on him, how cool is that?). They have climbed a mountain that is 17,000 feet high and driven motorcycles through the city. They have built homes for the poor and pulled teeth with dentist. We have had so many wonderful and neat experiences together. I love being able to do these things with the fam.
Speaking Another Language
There is a joke that goes around in other countries. I have heard it in three different ones. Here it is: What do you call someone who speaks three languages? Trilingual. What do you call someone who speaks two language? Bilingual. What do you call someone who speaks one language? An American.
That is funny because it is true. I have to say, I love speaking Spanish. I am a lifelong student now and know that I will never be GREAT. My accent is poor because I did not start learning until I was almost 45, but I am fluent. Being able to talk in another language is just cool. It makes me feel smart, and I need all the help that I can get in that area. :)
Still more good stuff in my next blog.