Missionaries or not?

One day Lia and I were hanging out in our living room back in Doma just talking about life stuff and what we were doing in Africa and she said, “we aren’t really missionaries.”  I love talking with my daughter and getting her thoughts on things, so this was going to be good, I could tell.  So I asked her what she meant by that.  Lia went on to say that I don’t preach at the Shona church, I don’t lead Bible studies, I wasn’t planting a church, the normal stuff we think of when we hear the term ‘missionary.’


I took a moment to reply, always a good idea but something I don’t do enough.  I told her that those things are all good, they are what missionaries typically do, but they aren’t what I felt ‘called’ to do.  Preaching is a gift I don’t have.  I don’t intend to plant a church, there are plenty in the area and I’d rather join one of them than add to the number of churches.  What I do, is try to live in such a way that people get a glimpse of Jesus in me.  I asked her if she remembered what was said at church last week.  She couldn’t.  I said that I couldn’t either.  I like to think that the men I work with listen to me and remember what I say, but the reality is more likely that they remember how I act, how I treat them, what I do, rather than what I spout off each day.

I get that this could sound like a cop out, but I don’t think it is.  Lia and I went on talking about it and I said that everybody is watching us and seeing what we do, to see if what we say jives with what we do.

We talked about the term ‘MK,’ Missonary’s Kid.  In Christian circles it can have a negative connotation, usually meaning that the person is a little screwed up from being dragged by their missionary parents to some far off country, and made to feel that their parents’ ‘calling’ is more important than them.  I told Lia that someone said one day that the term should really be Missionary Kid.  Lia and Naomi both have roles to play at Eden Children’s Village. God will use them just as much as He uses us to communicate His love for people.

Lia went off looking sort of pensive after our chat and came out to the veranda to sit with me the next day after work.  “You know Dad, I do think we are missionaries.”   I asked her what changed her mind.  She said that she had just thought about it some more and realized that Jesus showed who He was by what He did, not just what He said. Cool.

I’m not a theologian or a deep thinker, I’m far too pragmatic and perhaps too simple for that and I’m okay with that.  I’ll leave preaching and writing theological treatises for others.  What I can do is work hard and make friends and try my best to let Jesus be seen in what I do each day. When I’m cutting holes in shipping containers, building walls or learning to thatch a roof, I’m doing it with men who are becoming my friends, and friends talk.  I have started to make friends of the Shona men and teen boys and can’t wait to get back there to pick those friendships up again.  I miss having tea breaks with Lamek and hearing about his elderly mother and his plans to build her a house and about how he’s got his entire church fasting and praying for my family and our swift return to Zimbabwe. To me, it’s all about relationship.  We talk and pray and work together.   It’s what I feel we are supposed to do.



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