My Missionary Life

Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them.

Now there were Jews staying in Jerusalem, devout people from every nation under heaven. When this sound occurred, a crowd came together and was confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
-Acts 2:4-6

It occurred to me that I have had a missionary life.  I am not a professional missionary nor a street evangelist.  But surveying my life, I can see my mission field; which is the life and the relationships I have walked in.

The definition of missionary is someone who evangelizes, or tries to convince or persuade others about the gospel.  A more developed definition is to be someone who is 'on mission', on the mission of the good news.

For me, the word missionary brings to mind going out of the familiar into the unknown, with and for Jesus.  Crossing cultures and even experiencing culture shock.

When I grew up, I thought missionaries were people who went to other countries, that were different culturally and ethnically.

My more advanced idea of missions today, is the idea of a life for the sake of others.  I heard that term from Todd Hunter and am not sure if he coined it.

My whole life has been a life 'off the map' or coloring outside the lines of the stereotype or the boring.

I don't really identify with people who have lived monochromatic lives.

What do I mean by that?

What I mean is a going out of the comfortable or predictable.  For example, I can not imagine a life that is not multicultural, multi-ethnic, or non-denominational.

I don't know that I have led many people to Christ, prayed the sinner's prayer with them; but I have been led by Christ to many different people.  I know he has always been expanding me to see all people the way he does.

I wanted to make sure I clarified what I meant by my missionary life.  I'm sharing about Jesus leading me in my life and not so much of my trying to change people.

Yesterday I was reflecting on the friends I have loved and shared the gospel with and prayed my heart out for, who as far as I know, didn't get it.  It is very disappointing.  My only explanation is that Jesus has allowed me to experience his heart that suffers for unbelievers, and in my disappointment, he has appointed for me to intimate with him.

A few ways I have been a reluctant, unintentional, missionary in my life:

I was a C student through most of my pre-grad school academic life, but I was friends with Honor Roll overachievers. (I was not a disciplined student until half way thru college)

I was the White kid with a Mexican best friend.

I had a Black mentor. I have also had a number of female mentors.

I have had Jehovah's Witness, Latter Day Saint, Jewish, and gay close friends.

I was a Protestant/Evangelical in a Catholic graduate school.

I have been a Spirit-filled Charismatic in a cessationist family & church.

I was the youngest, single guy in MFCC school with mostly married and divorced fellow students.

I went to seminary with mostly Presbyterian fellow students.

I work in a progressive/liberal field, even though I and my friends there are conservatives.

I live and work where whites are 29% of the population.

I was strongly opposed to a Republican running for re-election in my district.

We serve families with many kids, adopted kids, and special needs kids; while we just have our one.
(We attended a family camp for large families where we were the only ones with one child)

When I go into a room, including a church, I look for the oldest person who is alone and sit next to them.

Art credit:  I found the above art here.