I talked with my friend Josh Moose yesterday. I was out in the garden getting dirty and had just walked in the house to wash my hands when I heard my cell phone ringing. You might be asking yourself what the big deal is: we talk on the phone with our friends everyday. And you would be correct—except for the fact that Josh in Tanzania, Africa and I am in Boone, North Carolina, nearly a 24 hour plane trip apart.
He was using a software program called SKYPE which is a computer program that allows him to talk and his voice is then transferred to my phone over the internet. And other than a time or two when his voice seemed to fade, it was like he was in the same room.
It was 3:30 in the afternoon here and 10:30 pm there. He said the girls were having a night out on the town and he was making some calls and catching up with some friends. Several years ago, when I was in Africa myself, that same 30 minute call would have cost thirty or forty dollars to make. Technology is something else.
As we talked, and he told me of his plans, I was reminded once again about how long term goals are important to all of us—not just the missionary types like Josh and his wife Renee.
I was also struck by the idea that being a missionary is not really about getting people into a Sunday church service—but about introducing them to a living God—Jesus Christ. The desire a missionary has to bring Christ to a people group, is the fuel in their tanks—so to speak. It is what motivates them and helps them to get out of bed in the morning. It is this desire that allows them to sell everything they own for the sole purpose of reaching this people group for the Lord.
But really, what does that look like. First of all you have to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Then you have to have a place to live and trasportation to get to where you will be serving. You will have to know the language of the people group you hope to reach. All of this takes time—sometimes years of preparation.
I guess the thought is that the minute we start to exercise—we begin to lose weight—and I guess in a sense this is true. But the reality seems to be that it is only after we keep at something that we see the fruit of our endeavour.
In other words, what I was seeing as I talked with Josh was this: if the goal is to love people with the love of Christ, that process is well within our grasp today. Yes, we continue with our plans to learn the language and obtain transporation, etc. but we begin to sow the seeds of the gospel within each person we meet by loving them and bringing value to their lives, wherever we happen to be in our process at the moment.
Ultimately, the goal of a missionary is to bring Christ to a people within whatever culture they abide in. Christ is the hope of the world. And what better way to do that than to allow God to speak through us in the process of loving people.
I told Josh that if he continued in just being who he is, a person who likes to be friends and visit people where they live, after a few months, he will have reached a lot of people with the love that Christ has birthed in him and his wife for the people of Tanzania. Yes, those same people will someday have to make a decision to accept the Lord, and fellowship with other believers and go to church. But in the meantime, what they will remember most about their interaction with Josh and his wife, is that when they were yet sinners, they were loved and accepted.
Josh and his wife have chosen a life-style that is very focused and in the fast lane. But whether we find ourselves in Boone, North Carolina, or Tanzania, East Africa, the goal is the same—love as we have been loved and in so doing fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2).
Enjoy your day Josh and Renee!
When is the best time to go.