Hi there! If you are here it is most likely because you are continuing to explore The Scripture Scout Missionary's Personal Proverbs. You don't even have to back track, but feel free!
You know as well as I do that we can be missionaries in New Jersey as well as New Guinea. But sometimes it is easy to believe that we are only doing mission work when we are in another country, preferably suffering, right? ;-)
Let's talk about a couple of ways that you can be a miracle on the mission field.
MIRACLE PROVERB #1:
“A bird in the hand might get scared and leave you a wee gift.”
(On Over-Pragmatic Expectations)
Sometimes our great ideas don’t turn out quite the way we plan them. It is difficult to escape our North American expediency: 10 latrines dug, 10 dramas performed, a VBS in every village, a gospel meeting, and 100 people won to Christ. But this is also why our short-term stratagem has the capability for collapse - especially when we don't even speak the language! Listed goals are good, but only when they fulfill what is needed and not what we think is needed.
Many short-termers have good solutions and preventive measures due to their experience and/or resources back home. But sometimes their results can be compound. These take time and patience. Maybe it looks like, "They need a playground, let's make them a playground." They might really appreciate a place for their children to play, but the same money you used to build it might build a small house with a bathroom! Plus, there may be more pressing needs at hand: a woman who needs prayer, a family who would be encouraged simply by your presence at their dinner table, an old man you hold an umbrella for as he walks to the grocery store.
Ask. You can't give people everything they’ll request, but you can find a way to do something for them personally and not just what will make you feel good about the trip. We can often generated a miracle we didn't expect when we ask the missionaries or the indigenous leaders how to find better ways to pursue long-term solutions that are about them (rather than piecemeal projects that are more about us).
MIRACLE PROVERB #2:
“Give him an inch and he’ll say,‘Okay, I'm done here!'"
(On Limited Mission-Mindedness)
In the movie Bruce Almighty, God gives Bruce Nolen, who has complained that God has fallen down on His job, a chance to have His powers for a few days. Bruce abuses them by doing things totally forBruce. When God confront him about whether or not he has actually helped anybody the response is simply, “No.” But Bruce does immediately decide to pray for them. He prays, “Dear God, please feed the hungry millions and bring us world peace.” God smiles and says, “That’s great, Bruce, if you want to be Miss America. Now pray about something you really care about.” Bruce finally recognizes the tiny miracles around him, people that give of themselves without regards to how it affects them. Finally, Bruce decides that the most effective way for changes to be made is to be the miracle himself.
Don’t be so excited about your upcoming mission to Haiti that you forget that it is your turn to wash the dishes after dinner or help your younger sibling with some homework. Who knows what kind of difference you’ll make to your friend who is watching how you interact with your family because he or she does not have one. Or who knows if, during her high school valedictory speech, your kid sister will thank you for getting her through math.
Many people consider it a sacrifice to give up “vacation time” to do mission work. How about giving up some time out of your busy weekly schedule to go down to the retirement center and brush Mrs. Bower’s neglected hair? God can use us daily and does on a regular basis. Sadly, He often has to use us without our knowing it. It is such a blessing when we do!
If we ask God to show us, we will not just recognize the miracles He is doing on our seven day journey to pass out Bibles in China, but the miracle next door, a kid who has said no to drugs and yes to an education. Maybe we will join in by offering to tutor him on Saturdays. Maybe we will be a miracle, too.