A new friend of mine went back to South Sudan last week for another missionary stint-locked herself in for five more years. The old timers like Adoniram Judson, of course, pretty much kissed their old homes and lives and friends good-bye. But for my friend, at about age 30 and being single, it must feel like sacrificing her youth on the altar as a burnt offering.
I was trying to put myself in her shoes today as I prayed for her. When you think about it, missionaries have a strange job description. Just imagine: They go all the way across the big pond, selling their furniture, obtaining visas, booking flights, and other rigmarole, for the single and narrow objective of telling strange people about God.
This morning I was not in a particularly faith-filled state of mind. There are some days when I am decidedly blah. But a missionary cannot afford to be like that; a missionary cannot coast through her job mechanically, as perhaps a plumber or Walmart cashier could. She either has a message to tell that plantain vender this morning or not.
It must keep you sharp, or desperate, or on your knees to have a job like missionary. You must have to examine yourself every day you wake up and see a Baobab tree outside your hut window. You must say to yourself sometimes: "Boy, I'd better believe that Jesus is real, or I have come a long way and given up an awful lot for no reason."
Then it dawned on me: You and I are supposed to be in the same state of mind-the same acuteness of faith, the same constant vigilance-as missionaries. Even though we stay at home and ply other trades, we know, when we bother to think about it, that testifying to the Truth about Jesus is what we are here for, whatever our "tent-making" jobs.
The only advantage the missionary has, in one regard, is that the purpose of her life is "in her face" every day of her life.