Last week we travelled to Salima, a small town near the lake, an hour from Lilongwe. While we were there we got a text from a young man who lives in Salima asking for help. We hoped in the car and drove to meet him at his school. He walked up to us as we sat on a small wall with the lake lapping a few metres behind us. He was holding the booklet we hand out at the SALT conference and pointed out where we wrote “since Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead to make God’s best life available to us, our desire is to see young people make each decision under his life-changing love and authority”. and pointed at Humphreys’ phone number printed on the back. He then told us about his long battle with addiction and how last week he met a friend who shared with him about Jesus and prayed with him and he decided to turn his life around, but he needed help so he decided to text the number and see if we could help him. We shared the gospel and prayed with him, that this might be the beginning of a long and beautiful journey with God for him. We were struck how God placed us, brought this young man into our life and prepared us to share with him.
The same week wee read an article posted by Kate Davis Majors, who lives and works in Uganda. She says:
“I am not a “missionary” anymore than anyone else is. These are the streets on which we live, the community we pray with, the friends we eat with, the people I wave to on the street. This is my home. What I do here, you can do there, right where you are.”
Our moment in Salima with this young man was a great reminder that being a missionary is not about serving God away from where you live, in a different cultural group and is certainly not exclusive to white caucasians in other nations. We are missionaries when we pursue loving God and loving our neighbour, wherever we are. We were challenged as we left Salima and embarked on our one hour drive home, how can we be available, responsive and faithful to God in Lilongwe and our home-suburb as His missionaries as well.
I wonder how often we look at people serving radically in other countries, running organisations or doing amazing good works and we say, ‘maybe someday I could be a missionary like that’. Often we look at the wrong measure, we assume that being a missionary is defined by the size, public perspective or breadth of impact of the ministry. Too often we have mistaken being a missionary with being ‘famous’ or as an idea or opportunity that is somewhere ‘out there’.
In Zack Eswine’s book ‘Sensing Jesus’ he writes:
“God will give you a place to inhabit, which means you get to become attentive to what is there where you are. This means that to dwell knowledgeably and hospitably in and toward the place God gives you is to glorify Him. God will give you a few things that he intends for you to do in your inhabited place and with those people. To do what God gives you to do is to strengthen the common good and to glorify him.”
We have decided to print these words to hang on the walls of our house, as a reminder that we are missionaries, because God has invited us to be. When we are responding to texts, printing newsletters, doing the washing, meeting for a cold coke, washing communion cups in our kitchen, writing expense reports, working out, negotiating with our building staff, hanging out with kids, organising events, leading worship or playing games with the youth group. We are missionaries.
If we do these things to love God and our neighbour, we are missionaries.
God has gifted us a place to inhabit on the outskirts of Lilongwe, Malawi and placed us in a ministry to young people. He has gifted us with a few things, and we believe our calling as ‘missionaries’ is to serve and love him and those around us with these things.
Our challenge to you is to consider today, where has God placed you? What few things has He given you? With whom are you to share them? And how do you bring Him glory in these? For you are as much a “missionary” as we are.