By: Laura Rinas
When I was in college, I decided that to change the world (which I was obviously going to do…), I needed to do something drastic. I switched my majors, ditching a business major and picking up a theology major. I enrolled in a Missions class, decided that I was going to take the Paul route and be single forever cause there is no way to do missions as a married woman, obviously. I was definitely going to move to Africa, because Missions work doesn’t live in Suburb-America. Also there was a good chance that I would become a martyr. Probably before my thirtieth birthday cause JESUS.
Guys. Bless my sweet little heart, right?
In today’s world, we tend to polarize the missions field from our ‘normal lives’. They are opposites most of the time, something you clock in and clock out of. We consider it a job, a task we can cross off of our list before we put our feet up for the night. We raise the money, take the trip, then come home.
But what if that wasn’t what we were intended to do? What if, except for a handful of us, missions is not a call to uproot your family and sacrifice your life, but a call to live your life with your eyes open, right where you are at? I had it wrong as a college student. I thought my life could only make a difference where there was the most hurt. But what that did was blind me to the hurt right in my own neighborhood. We all do it. We fight for the poor, the hungry, the marginalized, but we don’t see the lonely widow that lives next door. We wave our signs and join the picket lines, but we don’t see the lonely mother that sits down the pew from us at church. We get so focused on the Targets, that we miss the people standing right next to us.
In the thirteenth chapter of Matthew, Jesus breaks from his parables to explain to his disciples why he uses stories to teach lessons. He says in verses 16-17, “But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”
He was speaking of them being able to see and hear the God incarnate during his ministry on earth. But we have that opportunity as well, through our experience in the Word and in our Church. And part of that is allowing the Holy Spirit to give us eyes to see and ears to hear. See the people already in your life. Hear the people already in your life.
It takes courage to live this way, bringing your mission field home. Because a lot of that work will be mundane. It won’t have that flashy appeal that people can look at be inspired. But it will be inspiring for those that you touch. And it will be inspiring to the people THEY can touch because of your work. You won’t be given accolades and atta-boys. But you will be doing the gritty work of the Spirit. And if you can recalibrate yourself to the compass of Christ, it will be a kind of fulfillment that is otherwise quite unattainable.