This blog post was first written on the 23rd of April this year. Already had I reflected on this calling to mission (Reflection on Mission) and also been deeply challenged on this thought of “what is it going to take?” (Not without sacrifice) – this reflection however, constitutes my deepest and biggest struggle; “what is it going to cost me personally?”
The day after writing this, I turned 23. Although not all that much of an impressive thing, I’m taking notice more and more of the fact that things are changing the older I am getting. My friends have started talking about adult things. My best friend has just started going through the process of looking into buying a house. Another friend was talking about pet ownership and how she should wait until she has kids and a house until she gets a dog, because she’s never home. A few of my friends are getting to the end of their university degrees and realising that maybe God is wanting me to do something different.
I don’t presume to speak for all mission-minded people here, but I have been beginning to find this a massive struggle. I want to move out of home but I also want to save like crazy to go to Cambodia on a short term trip or two next year and not only for that, and God willing prepare myself for a much longer period of time on mission overseas. I have this longing, like most people I know, when I think of all the abundance I have been blessed with and how easy and good I have it here in Australia, to live, I’ll call it, “the Australian dream”. There is a part of me, and its a very human, natural part of me, that desires greatly to have friends and family nearby for special events like birthday’s, to be nearby when a family member’s time on earth is up, to have a house and car and well paying science job to provide effectively for a family, a wife and kids living the same kind of life I’ve been so privileged to have in this country that I seriously love.
These desires definitely aren’t wrong – they are good things to want (unless of course it amounts to idolatry). And although I say I don’t presume to speak for all mission-minded people, I will presume that these kinds of desires are very basic human desires. We all want this kind of thing. The likelihood, if I was to ask most adults and young adults not yet there what they want for their future, most of us would list the kinds of things that I have above.
The point of this post is to not make any one of us feel bad for having these things or desiring these things; there’s nothing wrong with them. The point of this post is for me to identify where I may be held back, or where others reading considering mission or ministry may be held back. It’s worth remembering that those God calls, even if we aren’t prepared, may desire an easy life, may want to ignore His call, He will suitably equip, draw us and prepare us for the life He would have us live.
Especially as I continue to think and walk down this path of world missions, whatever that may look like, whether pastoring of whatever kind, evangelism to the unreached, slavery abolition or poverty alleviation, or hey, staying in Australia having this ‘comfy’ life and sending others, this longing is a struggle. My best friend has asked me once “But why do you make it sound like you HAVE to go?”
My beliefs on the sovereignty of God and theology of ‘calling’ aside, knowing what I know and believing what I believe about mission, I think the best way I can spend my life, knowing my spiritual giftings, skillset and knowledge, is to go.
At our young adults service back in April, one of our leaders shared on this idea that “if you are not an evangelist, you are not a Christian”. He shared on this thought that the mission field begins here in Australia, and of course he is correct. We are all called as Christians to share the gospel with others, whether here or abroad. Knowing what I know of the numbers of the unreached who have never heard about Jesus (e.g. This would generally not include Australians – there may be some exceptions, like refugees), the only logical response in my heart is to go.
Irrespective of the things I desire to have in this life on earth, irrespective of the simplicity and ease of the western lifestyle, irrespective of all of it, there is coming a day when it will no longer even exist – but humanity and the souls of humans will exist forever. It’s this longing, this very human longing which I believe is one of the biggest blockages to taking up the mantle of ministry. Where everything we desire means we forsake the need of humans and the plan of God for reaching them (in case you missed it, WE’RE the plan!).
Both of these, this desire for this comfort of our western civilisation contrasted with this desire to go cross culturally to another country to serve where the gospel is lacking, when brought together these produce a major struggle. It’s these two sides, the very human side of me that desires for ease and comfort and the missionally thinking Christian side of me that will one day force me to make a seriously difficult choice between the two.
I know that this decision is going to cost me, regardless of the choice. One will cost me the easy life that I love, it will cost me closeness to family and friends, it will cost me all the desires for the kind of life I, as any human, would love to live. John Piper said “Where else does missions come from, the kind of missions that packs your baggage in your coffin?” Dare it be said, missions can easily mean the loss of life. On the other side, it means my conscience is heavy in regards to those who have never heard the gospel and my knowledge will be that I have ignored the need; but at least my life will be comfortable, right?
My hope is that as I continue to step out in faith in taking steps in exploring cross cultural mission that things will be made easier, made clearer, made less difficult. I’m already in the process of taking these steps. Most of all, whatever the cost, my prayer is that I would be obedient to everything that Christ would have me do.