Sunday, September 2, 2007

What is a Missionary?

I’ll post a little about the Missions Training Institute I just began after a while, but first I want to tell you all about the situation I am in right now and how unique and rewarding it has been to be a part of it.

The Oasis Apartments:
Zach, Doug, and their guests Dustin, Cody, and Josh Ward are all staying in a first floor apartment. Dana and Ale are living above them on the 2nd floor.

Woodvine II Apartments:
Myself, Steven, Justin, and our guest Paul our staying in #9 on the first floor. Directly above us is Lauren and Kana.

We are a team of missionaries. Students, Workers, “in transition”. These are the titles that could be applied to us, but we are all missionaries. Let’s talk about this word missionary for a little bit. Missio is a Latin word that means ‘sending’ or ‘to send’. A Mission is defined as “an important assignment carried out for political, religious, or commercial purposes, typically involving travel.” Missionary is the “person sent on a religious mission, especially one sent to promote Christianity in a foreign country.”

We all lived in houses and apartments spread out through the city of Denton and all collectively decided to move into this poorer neighborhood with the intention of seeking God’s leading in how we might be integrated into the community, meet their needs, shine the light of Christ through our actions, and by divine appointment share the message of Jesus Christ to those we encounter. Now it is not a foreign country, but it is a lot closer to a foreign country than where we were to begin with. Everything else applies though for us to be missionaries. We live, we work, we continue our lives as usual except with the goal and intention of perhaps making a difference in the lives of the people we meet in this particular community, our home.

Our actions:
Sometimes we can be very open and bold in meeting people or setting up times to hang out with others, and other times it simply takes stepping out of our shell, resisting the urge to look through the blinds and peepholes, and walk outside to see what kind of interactions might take place with our neighbors. But every time requires us to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and to not resist the ideas that God gives us that works so steadily against our comforts or preferences.

Sometimes we feel like we aren’t doing anything at all, and other times God orchestrates so many ‘chance’ encounters and ‘random’ interactions that we cannot help but fall on our faces in worship and rejoicing in the privilege of being used by God in the subtlest of ways.

I write this to tell you what is happening in my life, but I pray I do not write this out of a desire to boast. If I boast, I boast in the joy of serving Christ and not in my own works. But most of all I write this out of a belief that the most radical movement and revival of the American church can and will occur if only everyone sitting in the seats of churches every Sunday would begin shaping an identity for themselves as ministers and missionaries. No, they do not need to leave their homes or jobs or quit doing the things that they feel God has gifted them so abundantly to do. Our group has only switched homes but maintained everything else in our lives. What you must do is simply consider yourself as a missionary right where you are, as one called by God and sent to your workplace and neighborhood in order to carry out the most important assignment and orders of our Lord Jesus Christ to, “make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all the things,” Jesus has commanded you to observe. If only we all could take this vision as our own and shape our identity as missionaries.

Would you please pray for us, for yourselves, and for the American church to act out the love of God and calling of Jesus Christ in whatever ways the Holy Spirit might lead us all to do?