Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Missionary (10/19/06)
- TITLE: Please Don't Send Me to Africa
By Myrna Noyes
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Voodoo rituals, monkeys swinging from trees, pythons waiting for prey, missionaries in white suits and pith helmets.
As a child, the word “missionary” evoked images from Sunday School stories of “darkest Africa,” where entire villages of cannibals were eventually converted to Christianity and the “American Way” through the work of self-sacrificing missionaries who were able to travel there because of the dimes, quarters, and occasional dollar bills I gave as my missions offering.
As a young adult, becoming a missionary to me meant having to give up all the comforts of home and family to live in the midst of a steamy jungle, where one would inevitably encounter psychotic witchdoctors, nearly naked natives, ravenous lions, and pitiful lepers.
At the very least, to be a missionary meant handing out gospel tracts to mostly disinterested people on the street corner downtown or summoning up the courage to go door-to-door trying to convince neighbors as well as strangers to sign up for Bible studies from my denomination.
Frankly, neither of these options held much appeal to me, and I was convinced I was not cut out to be a missionary. I agreed with the words of a song by Contemporary Gospel singer Scott Wesley Brown, in which a man pleaded with God not to send him to Africa. He whined that, being only a man and not Tarzan, he didn’t have what it takes; neither did he like lions, gorillas, or snakes. Therefore, I contented myself with simply giving my offerings and mentioning the missionaries offhandedly in my prayers now and then.
Years later, however, when I began attending a new church, I noticed one day as I was exiting the building, that right over the inside of the front door was a sign admonishing me that “You are now entering the mission field.” That got me to rethinking what it meant to be a missionary, and finally I came to the realization that my life is a “letter from Christ” written by the Holy Spirit (II Corinthians 3:3, NIV), and that I, along with all believers, am called to be one of “Christ’s ambassadors” in the “ministry of reconciliation” He is effecting on this earth. God is “making His appeal through us” to the world (II Corinthians 5:18 & 20, NIV). I recognized that my family, my neighborhood, my workplace, my social gatherings are all “mission fields” where I can be an ambassador bringing the Good News of salvation in Jesus to those who are in need of it. If I am truly a Christian, I am also automatically a missionary.
Being a missionary can still include sharing gospel tracts, giving Bible studies, or even going to foreign lands, but now I know it encompasses so much more.
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