As a teacher, it would have been easy to answer, but as a first-term missionary on deputation, what could I say?
"What do you do?" It was an innocent enough question, but how was I supposed to answer it? The easiest way to answer is to say, "Well, my wife and I are getting ready to go to Bolivia, South America, as missionaries." This is usually followed by something like "How nice!" or "God bless you! I could never do that. Let me tell you about the terrible international experience so-and-so had." or, "Oh! Are you Mormon?" However, the gentleman I was talking to was not satisfied with that answer. "You mean you don't have to go to work? You can just stay in people's houses all the time?" That one caught me off guard. But, as I look back on that conversation now, I realize I often feel that way myself.
As Naomi and I ready ourselves to enter the mission field, it is easy to look at the Great Commission and focus on one specific word, "Go!" I'm ready to GO to Bolivia. I am ready to GO reach out to the orphans in Potosi. When are we GOing to have the support we need to GO to the field? After all, that is what Jesus told us to do in the Great Commission, isn't it? And I get frustrated when I feel like my life is all about "Hurry up and wait." It is very easy to start feeling as if I am not doing anything of eternal value or importance as we WAIT (ugly four-letter word, isn't it?) for the Lord to prepare our way to Bolivia. Whenever I begin to get this attitude, the Lord seems to send along a reminder of the way He is using us, even though we are not able to GO to the mission field this instant.
As a child, I traveled with my parents for thousands upon thousands of endless miles across the United States as they raised support for the work in Bolivia. The cool parks, museums, and zoos we were able to see were not so bad. It was the church services and forever days in the car that I began to dread a bit. Mostly because I became bored. Yes, I had to sit in the back seat, again. Yes, I had to suffer through others picking where to stop for lunch until my turn. Yes, that was me, sitting in the back of the church mouthing the words to my parents' video presentation they were showing for the gazillionth time. That part of the travelling seemed boring. Now, as the adult travelling to church after church, the miles are still endless, especially when the children have decided they are through travelling and we still have one hundred miles to go for the day. But the opportunity to visit Evangelical Churches has transformed somehow from curse to blessing. God has shown us it is our opportunity to minister to people while we WAIT. And if God uses us to touch a life as we share with our brothers and sisters in the United States, we are not wasting our time just staying at other people's houses. If God uses us to reach someone's heart and to bring glory to Himself, then we are not wasting our time as we WAIT.
Oh, and the funny thing I recently learned about the Great Commission is that it turns out the main verb is not to GO, but to MAKE disciples. So, we don't need to GO to start fulfilling the mission of the church. We can be mobilized right here where we are, MAKING disciples, even as we WAIT. And that, as believers, missionaries, and body-members, is what we do.