R (name withheld for security reasons) is teaching English as a foreign language in a secure location and building relationships with women in her community. She explains why missionaries are not ‘super’ Christians!
Some people may have a perception that missionaries are ‘super Christians’. However, I have always believed that Christians working in another culture are not different to those who stay in their own culture.
Regardless of where we live, we are all called to follow Jesus. In following Jesus, we try to live for him each day and help others to do so too. We try to encourage one another. We try to share our lives with people who do not believe so that they too will know God. We all live in a fallen world with the struggles that come with that. We all have the Holy Spirit living within us, helping us. We all have God’s word, which we try to understand and live by. We are all saved through grace alone. We are all purified by his blood.
As I have lived in another culture over the last seven years, I have often thought about how my life here compares with life in Australia. I do not always understand the language and culture of the people I am with – but that actually happens at times in multicultural Australia too. I might miss out on special and ordinary events of family and friends in Australia. But then I am privileged to participate in special and ordinary events of friends here!
Not better, just different
I can’t deny that living in a different culture has made a difference to my life. Some of the challenges that come from living in another culture have been very difficult, and may not be for everyone. But no doubt each culture brings its own challenges and each of us is challenged in different ways. Although God has blessed me with good support here, there are some things I cannot really discuss with local friends. And due to the time difference, there have been times when I have not had access to people in Australia whose wisdom I would have appreciated. At those times I rely on God to help me through. Although my response is hopefully the same as it would be in Australia, I feel my need to rely on Him more often and more deeply living here (I count this as one of the blessings of living in another culture).
However, being a missionary does not mean that I am a better Christian than my supporters in Australia! Yes, being a missionary is challenging. There are times when I feel less useful for the kingdom here than I did in Australia – like when building relationships is slow and hard or I make lots of language mistakes in conversation or I just can’t express myself clearly. However, I believe God is powerful to use every person as much or as little as he likes, wherever they are, regardless of their knowledge of language and culture. He even uses people who think they are weak Christians to serve Him across the world. I humbly trust that he continues to use me as I seek to be faithful to him.
I also trust that God continues to work in me, making me more like his Son Jesus. Sadly, there is still much work to do. Am I a super Christian? Of course not! No one is. Let us continue to keep our eyes fixed on the perfecter of our faith, live for God each day, share him with others and encourage one another as we await Jesus’ return and the end of all sin.
Email your church’s CMS missionary encouraging them to continue seeking to follow God in the location he has placed them.