In college, I piled into a 15-passenger van with a handful of undergrads to attend a weekend retreat in Pennsylvania, orchestrated to help those with a passion for missions to figure out what the next steps were. In fact, the weekend was actually called, “Next Steps.” My dad had died less than a year beforehand and an unquenchable drive to really make all of my days count had kicked in because I realized just how short, even at it’s longest, life is. But I was completely overwhelmed with where to start geographically to make the biggest influence for the Kingdom of Christ because there were just so many needs. I was so confused about understanding where God was calling me. I knew that He wanted me to be some sort of missionary, but I didn’t know where exactly.
I had a few pointed conversations about this dilemma with some of the life-long missionaries who were at this retreat. One conversation was with one of my school’s sending mission agency directors. He shared with me that often, he thinks that God just wants us to pick somewhere and go. The tangible needs of the world are overwhelming. The spiritual needs of the world boil down to the same need in every single location: Jesus. That helped, sort of. It gave me the freedom in my mind to not overcomplicate following Jesus as a disciple and disciple maker wherever I landed. But I needed a little more guidance.
So, I talked to an old man, crowned with white hairs of wisdom. He had just retired from living on a mission field, where he had been for the majority of his life. And I could tell that he was trying to navigate his final days after being immersed in a different culture for so long, offering his life as a sacrifice for reaching people for Christ with the greatest impact he could. I sensed that it was hard for him to be out of his element and back in the States, where many people just don’t “get it.” But it turned out, I, apparently, was one of the reasons he was where he was that specific day. Because I needed to have this life-altering conversation with him. His work of reproducing disciples did not end when he left the location he had served so many for years. No, he passed a little bit of his baton to me that day, whether he knew it or not. I presented my dilemma to him about how to really know the will of God. And he shared his story of how he wound up in the spot he did all those years, offering the help and hope of Jesus Christ.
He had been down on his knees at Bible College praying about where God would send him. Bending over his Bible, he said he read this passage from Isaiah 30:21:
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
The weathered missionary man told me that when he read that verse at that moment of his youth, he closed his Bible, said, “Thank you, Lord,” got up, chose a place, and went straight the land he had been serving in all that time.
Phil Johnsey of the Church Missions Network shared with our team that went to Kenya a few years back, “We may not be able to change the world, but we can change a village.” Vice President of World Help, Noel Yeatts, in her book, “Awake: Doing a World of Good One Person at a Time,” shares her own story of how she has seen this very same thing unfold. The words of Mother Teresa inspired Noel to start with investing and advocating for just one life, which in turn has multiplied hope and help for many more lives, “If I look at the mass I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.”
Part of my journey in the realm of missions has been going all around the world, meeting people where they are, helping them with their immediate needs, and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with them. Another part of my missionary voyage has been investing in college students, through my own leadership positions and employment and now through serving as an extension of my husband’s role as a professor. Other opportunities have been facilitating conversation-starters with my neighbors and people in my community to have open, honest dialogue about what the good news of Jesus is all about. God has also provided opportunities for us to serve in capacities as 2nd Grade Sunday School teachers, outreach volunteers, VBS planners, and ministry project coordinators.
The resounding message that the Lord has spoken to me about what being a missionary is has come from the words of a catchy little song from my childhood Vacation Bible School days, “Everyone is a missionary in his or her special way.” And that’s just it. If you’re a Christian, you’re a missionary, wherever you are. You don’t have to be financially supported by a missions’ board or a church. You just have to show up, wherever you are, in whatever space God has allowed you to be in for such a time as this, and be an ambassador for the life-changing message of truth and hope found in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. But the truth is, as Phil Johnsey from CMN has reminded me, you can’t share the message of the Gospel to physically dead people. Something has to be done to help restore and nourish physical life in order to have an audience present with ears to hear the story of how Jesus came to rescue them from the greatest travesty ever- eternal separation from Almighty God.
One of the spaces God has me in for such a time as this is the blogosphere. Just like America or Africa or England or Thailand or China… the Internet exists as a space where people can be reached. Through my writing, I’ve got a voice. And my most profound honor is to use it for those who are voiceless, forgotten, and overlooked. That is why I use my platform of writing and blogging to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves to anyone who will listen. That is why I am a World Help Blogger and also why I mention other opportunities with various organizations that support both physical and spiritual life help endeavors, centered upon the gospel of Jesus Christ.
There are so many opportunities to make a lasting impact on this world…to leave a legacy that will affect generations to come for the gospel of Christ by reaching beyond your reach. Often times, it just is a matter of seeing one person or one opportunity and following the compulsion to actually move and use the resources you have to help starting there.
My arms may never stretch far enough to embrace those that I advocate for as a Christian humanitarian blogger. But my words just might have a reach that spans across time and space, which leads to an even greater mark of good in this desperate world.
So my questions to you today are simple: You know about the masses, but who is the ONE that God has placed in front of you to speak for? How will you advocate for them?
Listen to that still, small voice behind you, that offers the guidance and speaks to you, “This is the way, now walk in it.”
I love this post. Wow! This line: “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” Yes.
I pray others’ hearts are stirred to ask themselves the same questions you pose.
Thank you so much, Michele-Lyn! I pray that too. And oh, that still, small voice…isn’t it so beautiful?