I love action films. I love the ones where the cause is great and the odds are stacked against the good guys, but the good guys still win. I love the chases, the excitement, and the rush of adrenalin.
Many times, missions is not like that—but then again, it is. Missions is just living your normal, everyday Christian life in another context—a more challenging context.
For example, buying groceries is a very normal chore. But add: a foreign language, unfamiliar streets, different driving etiquette, confusing currencies, unavailability of familiar brands—and what do you have? A recipe for stress just to buy food supplies.
And then there is a lot more to deal with that doesn’t go into newsletters—having to deal with corruption and bureaucratic red tape just to get your work permit or driver’s license, dealing with cultural nuances that you just can’t explain to people who have never been to this country, learning to talk to the local official who is drunk about 80% of the time, and so forth. Those are just some of the things we don’t write about (some things I am even reluctant to write on this blog, obvi).
Once in a while, though, you will experience something shaking, something huge enough to make you question yourself. Those are the least likely to go into newsletters, except perhaps as an “unspoken prayer.”
I’ve been posting about a fellow missionary on my Facebook timeline for some weeks now. He was removed from life support and is most likely waiting to go home to his Creator in a matter of days (You can read more about him here). The last time I spoke to him, he was joking around as usual. I heard him preach on a passage on Matthew 5. Nothing seemed off. I never knew that would be the last time I spoke to him.
When they told me that he had gotten brain damage while staying in the hospital, I cried like he was my own family, because he is.
And then yesterday happened.
It was the day after a failed rescue attempt for a prisoner in the local police station. There had been a gunfight. The next day, everything seemed normal. Until it wasn’t.
While we were at school, we heard gunshots. We tried to take a roundabout way home, but heard more gunshots on the way, very close to where we were passing at the moment. The only words that came to my lips were, “Dear Lord, please help us!” Then I just tried to drive us home as quickly as possible. We are safe, as safe as God wants us to be at the moment.
Safety is not why we came here. Safety is not why we chose to serve in Gulu. When we signed up as missionaries, being willing to die for this was part of counting the cost. We are missionaries because we want to declare the excellencies of God in places where his Name is not yet known. Many times those places will be difficult. Otherwise, more people would have already gone there.
Signing up for missions is signing up to be a soldier for a country at war. You understand that it may come down to losing your life. You submit to your Commanding Officer.
Whether God sees fit to use your family’s testimony while you lay brain dead in palliative care, or he miraculously raises you back to perfect health; whether he chooses to show his protection over you while bullets are fired in the air, or lets a stray projectile take your life; whether he asks you to serve as a pastor until the age of one hundred, or ends your mission while you are in your twenties—you say, “Thy will be done.”
That is because we live for the greatest cause anyone could ever have, our enemy is fierce, and the odds are stacked against us, but we already know the victorious end. We know there is a real happy ever after.
Press on in the grace of God!