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Missionaries all

April 24, 2011

Since committing to go to Haiti, and particularly as my departure draws closer, I have been showered with accolades.  I have been praised as courageous, altruistic, wonderful and the like.  I admit that this acclaim is by no means unwelcome, but it is also to some degree discomforting.

I do not see myself as extraordinary.  But then again I know that God sees me as special, as He does every one of us.  We are his children after all.  Lately our Father has called me to work among the people of Haiti and I have chosen to heed that call.  Being called to Haiti may be somewhat unusual, but being called is certainly not.  God calls all His people to serve.  Most are afforded opportunities to be missionaries wherever they are; they need not leave home to serve.  Their mission field is with their families, their neighbours and their co-workers.  Some are called to serve among those just beyond their homes, with those in their communities who would not usually be part of their social circle.  A few are called to far away places.  One need not be special.  In my reading of the Bible I find God seems to choose ordinary, often very flawed people to accomplish His purposes.  A great God does not need to seek out great people.  He needs only find the willing.

It is my experience that if one is faithful to God’s call there is no greater reward in life.  Personally I have found that there is something really beautiful about working with “the last, the least and the littlest.”  I have been called to it repeatedly.  I have worked with those in prison, with the sick, the disabled, the disenfranchised.  Now I go to work among some of the poorest people in the world.  I am blessed that God has shaped me for this role and made it a good fit for me.

Many have lauded the “sacrifices” I am willing to make.  I know that I have had to and will continue to give some things up for the work in Haiti.  But everyone who sets out to do anything of any significance makes sacrifices.  Just ask a graduate student or a hockey parent.  As with them, the sacrifices I have to make are worth it.  Furthermore I have undergone shifts in my thinking that make those sacrifices much easier.  The absolute confidence that there is no question about where I am supposed to be makes them far less significant.

As American self-help writer Anthony Robbins wrote,  “Your life changes the moment you make a new, congruent, and committed decision.”   I know that my life will never be the same.  I will never be the same.  For me, God will never be the same.  He has been working to strip away the things to which I have been clinging that interfere with my relationship with Him.

I am slowly becoming aware that it is extremely important to recognize that being a missionary is a life.  It is not something we are called to for a season.  Although most will find their mission field changing from time to time, the missionary life goes on, even if among different people in different venues.  I go to Haiti accepting that this may well be where I will live out the rest of my life.  Circumstances may change and God may call me elsewhere.  But if I go intending to leave, to return to a life of ease and plenty in Canada, perhaps I should not go at all.  I repeatedly heard from Haitians that they have had enough of those who abandon them when there is still so much to be done.

I am struggling with the fact that I will be living a life of relative plenty in Haiti.  I have not resolved my personal conflict that I will live well, eat well and enjoy many luxuries well beyond the means of the vast majority of the people among who I will live.  I do not believe that God wants me to become one of the poor in order to work with them.  I believe I am being called to in some small way help the poor to find a way out of their poverty.  Providing a means to clean water is a big step.   People can do little to help themselves and their families if they are sick and dying from waterborne diseases.

I am also struggling with walking the razor’s edge between depending on God and doing all I can.   At what point does one “let go and let God?”   Where does Luke 14:28, counting the cost, meet Matthew 6:25-34, not worrying about tomorrow?

I see a potential snare in this undertaking.  It is the pride that grows out of knowing one is esteemed.  If I allow it to it can detract me from how God sees me and lead me to act out of what I believe is my own power rather than depending on God.  My defense against this will be to try to be transparent, to confess to you all my struggles, my faults and my shortcomings.  Through this I hope to be able to maintain a realistic picture of who I am and by extension the wonderful things God is doing in and through my life.  I also hope my being transparent will allow some of you to encourage me when I am disconsolate, correct me when I err, advise me when I am unsure of my path, support me when I feel inadequate.  I am not alone in this venture.   Whether you realize it or not we are in this together.

Christ is risen!  Happy Easter.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Geri permalink
    April 24, 2011 11:39 am

    My son phoned me this moring asking for me to recite his grandmothers favourite prayer for him today, When ever he feels homesick or lost (he was unable to come home for Easter) he remembers gramma reciting this prayer to him. My mothers favourite prayer is the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi
    this is a version of this prayer modified by Mother Theresa.

    Make us worthy Lord to serve our fellow men throughout the world, who live and die in poverty and hunger.
    Give them through our hands, this day, their daily bread and by our understanding love give peace and joy. Lord, make me a channel of thy peace.
    That where there is hatred I may bring love,
    That where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness,
    That where there is discord, I may bring harmony,
    That where there is error I may bring truth, That where there is doubt I may bring faith,
    That where there is despair I may bring hope,
    That where there are shadows I may bring light, That where there is sadness I may bring joy.
    Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort that to be comforted, To understand than to be understood,
    To love than to be loved.
    For it is by forgetting self that one finds.
    It is by forgiving that one is forgiven, it is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.
    Amen.

  2. Geri permalink
    April 24, 2011 12:04 pm

    Sorry a little more while I am rambling… my sons step-father who raised him is recovering from cancer surgery and has asked him to come home to help him during recovery.. my son is not able to come until the beginning of May as he is committed to the camp he is in. He will be coming in about 10 days but really felt that the decision to postpone his arrival (made by both parties) was especially tough today. He wanted to hear this prayer this morning.

  3. Geri permalink
    April 24, 2011 7:15 pm

    My sons friends are commending him on his course of action and he is questioning himself and I think everyone doing missionary work (home, family or afar) will do this. This prayer works for him and I hope when you question yourself it will work for you.

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