If you know me at all, you know I love missionaries. One reason I do is because they always teach me something. Here are some of the things I’ve learned from them over the years:
- The world is still lost. I know that truth, of course, but missionaries who weep over non-believers remind me that I sometimes take that truth for granted. I don’t care about the lost like I should.
- The gospel is costly. I know that, too, in my head, but I don’t live among people who face persecution and death every day because they follow Jesus. Many missionaries do.
- I’m not nearly as important as I think I am. I’m just one person in over 7 billion people in the world.
- God works miracles outside my worldview. I don’t often see healings and exorcisms. Some missionaries I trust do speak of these kinds of experiences.
- Prayer support really matters. I often call for prayer only when I most need it. Many missionaries survive daily on the wings of prayer.
- I’m deeply ethnocentric. That means I have a tendency to judge other cultures in light of what I think is right in my culture. Sometimes I’ve judged the way others do church more according to my cultural standards than according to biblical standards.
- Spiritual warfare is more real than I realize. I teach about spiritual warfare, and I’ve written about the topic. Missionaries on the front lines, though, are the ones who continue to teach me about its reality.
- A pastor’s support of missions is critical. Missionaries who’ve sought opportunities to tell their story to local churches usually learn this truth the hard way: when the senior leader of the church isn’t passionate about missions, the church won’t be, either.
- American culture is generally busy . . . and loud . . . and big. I don’t think about this stuff until missionaries come back from the field and struggle adjusting. We go non-stop. Some of us don’t operate well unless we have noise in the background. We build big church buildings, have big shopping centers, and eat big servings at restaurants. We overdo it, frankly.
- We’re really family. To be an “aunt” or “uncle” to a missionary kid is to be reminded of the special relationships God gives His followers.
- God always takes care of us. I preach this truth, and I believe it. Somehow, though, it strengthens my faith when I hear it from the family that’s given up everything to follow God to the ends of the earth.
What have you learned from missionaries? If you’re a missionary, what have you learned from your colleagues?