“Come home to us…” I can faintly make out mother’s sobbing voice in the background.
The long distance telephone line is hazy, dropping in and out erratically at times. I clasp the handset close to my ear, desperately hoping to catch another phrase from her. Instead, Father’s harsh words crash down like thunder.
“So when will you get a proper job?”
“But…” instinct drives me to defend myself, but I struggle to link the right words together in retort. The fact is, I don’t have a vocation that would be considered dignified by most people’s standards. Especially those back in my home town. It’s not like I don’t have better things to do, but I feel I’ve come alive when I am just hanging out with my friends…who happen to be outcasts of society, the unwanted, the nobodies . There’s nothing attractive about them really, yet I find a special affinity with them and I am strangely drawn to them, sharing in their turbulent, chaotic life. Just last week, I helped bury another friend who died from a drug overdose…
My thoughts are interrupted by father’s abrupt cutting remark.
“Do you have no shame living on handouts?”
And I am rendered speechless once more. The truth is, I do feel the pinch of guilt every now and again, and the voices of accusation during the restless nights as I wrestle with my pride. I would think of the saint-like folks from church – they who give to me from the little they have, unconditionally. Their faces flashed before me as I embraced my dying friend last week, witnessed him convulse from the overdose…before he succumbed. The mixed smell of sweat, blood and vomit saturated the room. At the time, I wondered what my donors would think of me. I wondered if they would call me a failure, a waste of money. And I felt so small.
“Son?” Father yelled just to make sure I was still on the line. “Be sensible! For heaven’s sake you are married with kids...”
I shut my eyes momentarily, trying to block out the rest. I know what is coming - he has said it so many times I could complete his paragraph, verbatim. He will remind me of how I’m subjecting my family to sub-human living conditions, how I am relying on handouts to put food on the table. It is painful to have Father’s words evoke the dreams I once cherished, like the ones I had on our wedding day, when I gazed into my bride’s dazzling eyes and promised to give her my best. I’ve kept my vows alright, except I couldn’t have imagined that my best would turn out this shabby: a shack, having to make ends meet in a drug rampant community, and the ultimate of Father’s chagrin - relying on others for support.
Failing to fish out a satisfactory response from me, Father proceeds to draw out the trump card.
“And after all the sacrifices we’ve made to give you good education, is this how you would honour us?”
Life could have been cushy, he is right, with their “investment” in me. In fact, any time should I choose to return to the prosperous place where I once called home, opportunity awaits me. I could “scrub up” and find a so called respectable job. I could be self-reliant, and never again depend on another person for financial support. Father could hold his head up high when he gloats of his son’s accomplishments.
But I have chosen a different road.
“I love you Dad. And I know what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. I must obey God above all else.” It is the best I can say, for now.
I am called to be a missionary. I have followed God’s prompting to this foreign country, this alien place to live amongst the broken and destitute – individuals loved by Him nonetheless. They need to be reconciled to their Maker, and for this reason I am here to walk with them, to love them and in so doing deliver the message of Hope. It is a narrow road I have chosen, the path less trodden, and an ego-pounding journey no less as we learn to trust in His provision through the support of the body of Christ back home.
Perhaps one day Father will come to understand our decision, and the significant role the handouts play in God’s global missions:
His Kingdom come.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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