During training in August, we were asked to define a missionary. I had a very clear image in my head and got to work drawing it. With visions of Mother Teresa and Katie Davis in mind, I created a depiction of a world saver… A strong individual out to bring peace to the far corners of the globe. It was an image I knew I could not live up to.
My assumptions about missionaries nearly kept me from applying to be a US-2. I am the most ordinary person in the world with far too many huge mistakes in my past. I fail more often than I succeed. And I am certainly an imperfect Christian that still harbors doubts much of the time.
When I got to my placement site and discovered what I would be doing, I had to reconsider my preconceived ideas about missionary work. I serve with the General Board of Church and Society on the Hill in Washington, D.C. Every day I put on dress clothes to fit in with the nation’s elite, and I walk past beautiful and historic buildings on my way to the office. I sit at my desk and stare out my window at the Supreme Court, and I wonder how my work compares to the image of a missionary in my mind.
I do not bring healing and love to lepers in Calcutta. I do not provide orphans in Uganda with food, education, and nurturing. I do not fit the mold I mentally created. My assignment does not ask for me to save the world, a reality I am quite thankful for. The only thing about me that makes me a missionary is that I said yes. It has nothing to do with where I serve, what my work involves, or who I work with. I am a missionary because God gave me a task and I said yes. That task may not always be something I am passionate about or even be something I want to do, but I told God I would do it. Every day I say yes to God’s call is a day I can claim the title of missionary.
Having left home and living on a stipend – those are simply details. There are people all over this world who have also said yes to the task that God has given them. Their task simply looks different than mine. Others might have been asked to stay at home and be a nurse or a teacher, or even a lawyer or a pastor… It could be anything.
The point is, and the truth I try to make everyone I speak with understand, is that I am no different or more special than anyone else. We can all be missionaries. All it takes is that three letter word.
US-2, Class 2015
General Board of Church and Society, Washington, D.C.