For the past two weeks Michelle and I have been in Oklahoma City, USA for a medical missions conference. During that time we were asked to speak at a local church, something I haven’t done for a long time but which all missionaries do when they get the chance. I really love telling the stories about the things that God is doing overseas but I also am a bit saddened by the whole thing.
When we are overseas, we have missionary friends and we sometimes hang out or do things together. On the 4th of July we hosted a party and played an Escape the Room game. At those times, all of us are the same. We are just regular people, from a variety of backgrounds, trying to evangelize people in the Arabian Peninsula.
When we are in the US, though, we usually don’t connect with the church in the same way. For some reason, we are treated as if we are special, or are exceptional among the crowd. This is an awkward place to be and is awkward to talk about.
One time a pastor introduced us in a Sunday meeting and said, “This couple has surrendered to the mission field.” He made it sound like we had fought some battle over whether or not to go overseas and finally gave in to a much harder life. That’s not what happened at all. For both Michelle and me, there were many factors, some personal and many Biblical, that just made missions right. In retrospect we would have seen life in America as surrendering all of the joy, peace and purpose that missions gives us.
From our perspective, Jesus got this movement started, his apostles picked it up, and missionaries are just carrying it on until Jesus returns. We don’t feel special. So, why are missionaries looked upon as the exception in the church? How has the thing that should be normal for the church become exceptional?
I would love to hear your thoughts.