I used to think that missionaries were a specific category of people. That you either were one, or you weren’t but you knew about them and your church financially committed to raise a certain percentage of their support. That only those special, chosen few had the “call” to go and do their missionary thing. Looking back I’ve been blessed to support missions in my own way from a young age– before I even realized what I was doing–as I helped my grandmother sort clothes in the “missionary barrel” in the stuffy church attic!
I thought about missions once a year when our church would hang up the colorful flags from around the world in the main sanctuary during the “Missions Conference” and highlight what was going on in the jungles and on other side of the world. I loved the slideshows with their exotic and intriguing photographs and listened to the numbers of converts, baptisms, and “new” attendees of church plants the missionaries were starting. It was a time for the church people “at home” to nod their heads in approval as the numbers of people being reached in another country went up (hopefully…I never heard of numbers going down or a missionary being “fired”) and to drop extra money into the shiny, gold offering plate so that the missionaries could keep doing what they were doing for another year and we could check that off our lists until next year’s conference.
It was, in my young mind, the one week a year our church did its duty to help fulfill the Great Commission. To me it seemed like missions was something to be taken out and packed away like the flags in the sanctuary. Not an everyday, all day, for everyone kind of thing.
But I’m learning that not just a few, chosen people can make local and global impact, everyone is supposed to play their part. There isn’t supposed to be a “category” in my life for missions, my whole life is supposed to be influenced and infused by having a missions mindset.
I have a special talent that allows me to be a missionary too. In fact, everyone has been given a gift and a calling to play a part in the spreading of the gospel–whether it’s being a steady financial supporter, an artist, oozing love, or being a pray-er, it takes every single person doing their part every single day for individual and corporate Christians to carry out the Great Commission.
That myself, my family, and my Church–and hopefully all individual and corporate believers–will understand that missions isn’t simply a piece of the puzzle, it’s one of the fibers weaved into the cardboard rectangle that comes with the set, framing in the pieces, giving them context and helping to hold them all together.