This is a concept of which I knew but had not seen. After spending a month in Asia visiting various missionaries, however, it became a reality. First let me say that I am not about to try to talk you out of missions (if you happen to be considering); rather, my hope is that you are more inspired to go into the field. I believe it is a common misconception amongst young Christians that to go overseas and do the Lord's work will be this awesome, romantic adventure where hundreds of people are saved day in and day out, and every day is "payday" as you get to see the results of the work the Lord is doing through you. Though I had heard that missions was not easy at all, I still maintained this romanticized view of it.
While in Asia, I met some amazing people -- some who had been around for 15+ years, and others who were just starting out in missions -- and none of them carried this mentality (especially the 15+ years people). In fact, some of them seemed pretty tired. They have seen and experienced a lot -- good and bad. They are on the front lines of the on-going spiritual battle that most of us in the American church tend to forget about with our comfortable lives. Some of these people have experienced (more than once) horrible illnesses, and others have lost loved ones. When I heard some of their stories, my first thought was, "Okay. Take note: Do not work in long term missions." My romantic view of seeing the world and doing Kingdom work broke down. "There is nothing fun about this," I thought to myself. However, as we spent more time with our new friends, and joined some of them in their work, I began to see how much joy and strength they had inside of them. Despite how tired they looked on the outside, you could sense the fire that raged inside of their hearts for the people to whom they were ministering. It was encouraging to see the missionaries who had been in Taiwan for over 15 years still pushing onward with such joy despite the difficulties. I was seeing all the encouragements of Paul on the subject of hardships being walked out.
Despite the point I'm trying to make with the subject of this entry, I want you to know that no matter how hard life gets whether your in missions or not, we have joy and strength and endurance in the Lord. Doing missions is most definitely a great adventure. I don't want you to think I am saying it's never enjoyable, and there is no fun involved whatsoever. But I share all of this because if you are considering going into long-term missions, please check your heart and your mind on the matter, and make sure you are doing it with the knowledge that the road ahead is quite bumpy. Sure, these missionaries are tired a lot of times, but they love what they do and their ability to move forward every day comes from the Lord. They live very raw, stripped down lives where they don't have the comforts of the "American Dream" to distract them from the fact that Jesus is our only hope in this life. As my wonderful brother, and pastor, David said last night, there is nothing evil necessarily about the American Dream, but when it becomes the bulls-eye of our life then we truly miss what Christ is calling us towards.
I am in a season of life where I'm processing through and considering whether or not to focus on media in missions. So all of these thoughts are at the forefront of my mind. My hope is that this entry helped to break down any misconceptions about working in missions, and that it was more encouraging than discouraging. Please feel free to comment, or ask questions and I can go into more detail on my thoughts. I feel that this entry was a bit scatter-brained, but then again I always feel that way about my posts because I feel that I am pretty scatter-brained on a daily basis. As I continue to process things from my trip, I will post more "Final Thoughts."