Why be a missionary in a demanding milieu? (from a millennial perspective)
“Because it’s a moral obligation as followers of Christ, to serve our Lord even at the expense of our comfort and convenience. And what better time than in our youth?”
I met Fred when I was in Manila, he decided to be an OM STEP-per for 2 months before entering university. After getting to know each other, both of us realized we came from blessed backgrounds characterized by comfort.
Fred, a 21 year old German STEP-per (STEP: Short Term Exposure Program)
As a millennial living in a developed nation, most of the dreadful circumstances we come across are from second hand encounters (ie: news, stories, articles). We are rarely exposed to precarious environments; tainted by violence and drugs nor political instability. However merely watching all of these travesties from the outside in didn’t suffice for us. Despite the acknowledgement of our world’s dismal state, it still begs the question; Instead of applying for internships or travelling to exotic places, why would a fresh graduate, spend a couple of months and a whole lot of money to engage in a generally thankless endeavor?
A little more than a year ago, in my last semester of university, I made a pact with God that I wanted to dedicate my first fruits of post-grad to him. I was open to any path, as long as He paved the way. Many would deem this decision reckless. Firstly, many Singaporeans would agree that it’s unwise and impractical for a fresh graduate to embark on such an endeavor, especially during an unfavorable economic status. Understandably, in a fast paced and grueling society, it’s not recommended for youths to be ‘wasting time’ in areas where ‘got no money one’.
However, growing up in a Christian home, I was constantly reminded to be counter-cultural. I am thankful for wise and supportive parents, who secure my identity as a child of God FIRST, then Singaporean second. Consequently, many windows of opportunity opened; Bible College, worship workshops, voluntary work. It wasn’t until our church held a Missions Sunday when I got my answer. The central truth was simple:
“The fuel and passion for the Great Commission must come from our commitment to the Great Commandment.”
By the end of the sermon, I was crying uncontrollably in my seat. It finally dawned upon me that for far too long, I’ve lived in an insulated bubble of comfort and privilege, too self absorbed in my predicaments to truly feel any discomfort outside my own. As a second generation Christian, the Great Commandment always remained as mere intellectual acceptance. Church attendance, daily quiet time and being morally good always came before going forth and living out the great commission.
However, unlike ours, Jesus’ compassion and love for His people were not abstract or distant. He didn’t just participate in a 10 day mission trip, and then headed back to an opulent life. He intentionally and fully immersed Himself in environments marked by poverty and diseases. He lived amongst the marginalized, dined with the underserving, embraced the lepers, and loved without condition. We often look at anguish and despair as an observer; distant and detached. But Jesus fully participated in our world; His life and ministry were perfect examples of how we should be living ours.
True empathy involves being close to people, speaking their language, eating their food, caring about their concerns. In other words, Warranted empathy necessitates the extra mile. (In my case, approximately 1478 miles) Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.
When you eschew the unknown or elude risks, you deprive yourself of life changing experiences. To be fully convinced that God is El-Shaddai, Yaweh and all that I AM says He is, one needs to find out by experience that it is true. Is it possible to embody faith and at the same time love as a pew warmer or bible flipper?
I’ll like to end off by saying that you do not need a wealth of theological knowledge nor a certain ‘holy’ status to serve in the mission field. I can ensure you that those are lies from the devil, to prevent you from being a powerful weapon in this ongoing battle. God delights in using the ‘broken’, the ‘incompetent’, the ‘foolish’, so that this makes it clear that this great power comes from God and not from ourselves (2 Cor 4:7).
By Eudora Shin