Thursday, July 15, 2010

So......What do missionary appointees do?

Have you ever wondered what those people who have been commissioned by their church and appointed by a mission agency to go to a certain country or people group do?

Well, I can't speak for all the "missionary appointees" in the world but my guess is that much of what my family and I are doing right now is pretty much par for the course for many of the other Christians who are working toward moving to another part of the world as cross-cultural missionaries. Besides the obvious pursuit of raising our financial support for such a move we spend a lot of time just waiting. We also spend a great deal of time learning about the culture and ways of the people we desire to share the Gospel with and then we wait. In addition, we put in a bunch of time learning French or in my case trying to learn French because it is the trade language of the people we desire to reach with the Gospel and then we wait.

Besides all the stuff we are doing to get ready to be in Cameroon--we also have much to do to get ready to leave the United States--stuff like getting rid of all our excess accumulated baggage that has been stored up for 24 some years of marriage, getting our house ready to sell, making arrangements for the care of our animals which is no simple undertaking when that includes a horse, 4 dogs, 2 cats, 2 goats, and a handful of chickens, and working through all the logistics of actually moving from the U.S. to a third world country where dial-up internet is a luxury and it takes a month or longer to get snail mail or at least the envelope or torn open box the mail was in. And as we work through all this we keep waiting.

In essence, being a missionary appointee means doing alot of things all the while simply waiting--waiting for a church to call asking you to come and share your burden, waiting for the news that a new supporter has come on-board, waiting for people to really understand you're serious about leaving, waiting for your tongue to get used to the twists and turns of a brand new language, waiting for visas, waiting for the price of airline tickets to go down, waiting for God to bring all the loose ends together so you can finally go, and then finally waiting to say that dreaded "good-bye" to your loved ones (in our case this includes our three older children--and that's tough--really tough) so you can say that greatly anticipated "hello" to a bunch of people you don't even know.

So....what do missionary appointees do? They wait and while waiting, they learn to wait some more because it is in the waiting that the true missionary is created. You see, it is in the waiting, the waiting upon the Lord that anyone of us derives his or her spiritual strength and power to fulfill whatever God has called us to do for His glory. And while learning language, culture, and working through all the logistical hurdles of moving from being a missionary appointee to a real live "on-the-field missionary" is important--the most essential thing is learning how to wait upon the Lord.

As the Bible teaches us, ". . . those who wait upon the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary." And as we continue to move through this process of leaving home to arrive in our new and adopted home it is His strength and His might that we need and since it only comes to those who wait--that is what we are learning to do--whether we like it or not.