I have chosen to label all my posts about my upcoming trip, "Journey to Colombia" because, while the trip is essentially a mere 8 days long, all these months leading up to it are a deeper journey in my life. Some of it takes me back to my high school days, even, which is what I want to share today in regards to the unfolding of this upcoming February trip.
So, If you are so willing to bear with me traveling through time, I want to give you a glimpse into my heart for why this journey is so meaningful, and how it struck me so strongly this weekend.
I grew up in a church which was very missions oriented. Our church supported missionaries from all over the world. If you named a region, I probably could tell you the name of someone there whom we prayed for and supported. Missions- sharing the love of Jesus- was a topic spoken often of in my Sunday School classes and my home as well. Mom had cards with missionaries pictures on them in her Bible and through the house, and we frequently would speak of their stories over the dinner table.
My interest in missions was planted as a young girl. I had a great concept of what a missionary was, but mostly thought of them as people overseas sharing God's love.
In high school, my heart for missions grew, while my love for the Spanish language also grew. I began to feel and think that maybe that was my life's calling. And while I had a very good grasp on the concept of missionaries, I still don't think I had an entire picture of their careers. I went on "mission trips" in high school, ministering in areas around the United States, but I think I still believed that being a missionary meant going overseas. When my church youth group had the opportunity to go on a overseas missions trip, I had to sadly pass up the opportunity for various reasons.
I still had a taste and a craving to do that work, but not the entire concept.
As I graduated high school and went to a year of Bible college, my chosen school activity/ministry was to teach English to foreign students. As I had the opportunity to launch into that world, I began to see missions as an every day activity. Right in my backyard was an opportunity to minister to young people who came from a different culture and did not have the knowledge of Jesus. I didn't have to be preaching to minister to them; teaching them our language and being there for them was being a missionary to them. Through simply loving on them, doors of opportunity opened to share why I, as a busy American, wanted to take the time to teach them our language.
That summer I had the opportunity to travel overseas to El Salvador and Honduras and experience the "other country" aspect of missionary world. While I did absolutely enjoy that experience, I also had a better concept of missionary work.
We are all missionaries. Whether it's overseas or in a school as a teacher. Whether we are a stay at home mom or work in a hospital. Whether we teach English to nationals or teach English overseas. If we have the love of the Lord in our lives, then we have the ability to share the message any where we go.
Needless to say, I chose not to further pursue the overseas part of missionary work, but that piece and desire always lived in a part of my heart.
I got married and had children- a new form of missionary work. A long term one, for sure! But in the meantime, while I lived in Florida, I had great opportunities to teach my Honduran and Mexican neighbors English. I was amazed at the opportunities God always gave me.
When we moved back to Ohio, those opportunities were different. Remembering that I was an every day missionary was difficult at times. Fast forward a few years...
My friend Kristen went on her Colombia trip as I shared here. At that time, I was in a dark place, having lost mom and not very stable emotionally or spiritually. But God was preparing me, and I didn't even know it.
Which leads me to the current place of pursuing the mission to Colombia in February. The same one Kristen attended.
Yesterday at my church, I was taken back to my high school remembrances of my love of missions, as I sat through what is called a commissioning service. For those who do not know what that is, it's when a person chooses to make their life's work be missions. And once they go through training to do so, and are preparing to leave the United States (or stay, depending on their chosen location) their home church will "commission" them, pray over them, and allow the entire church to be part of the sending off process.
My church today doesn't have a lot of these, but growing up I frequently had the opportunity to see missionaries sent off. But as I sat through this service yesterday and watched my friends, Bryce and Natasha, be commissioned for Togo, Africa, I was taken back to those high school memories.
And the corner of my heart that still beats for missions.
And the lessons learned of being a missionary in my own every day interactions.
And to my current journey to Colombia.
If and when you have the love of the Lord and the knowledge of his saving grace in your heart, YOU are a missionary. I am a missionary. Whether it's in my job, in my home with my husband and kids, talking with a neighbor, or.... preparing to go to Colombia for a week. There was a song we used to sing growing up, that I finally have a better understanding of now as an adult, and it came back to me recently. The words say:
Be a missionary every day; Tell the world that Jesus is the way. The Lord is soon returning, there is not time to lose. So... be a missionary... God's own emissary. Be a missionary today! Let's Go!
To see a little more about where I am going, feel free to visit Mission to Colombia on Facebook.