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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Missionary (10/19/06)

TITLE: Confessions of a Would Be Missionary
By Marita Vandertogt



How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel. . . . (Rom. 10:15).

I cover mine with shoes. Usually up-to-date, and of course, enviable.

And I walk in places that bring me pleasure. Shopping malls, movie theatres, restaurants.

I didnít always.

Once, a very long time ago, I wanted to be a missionary. Work for God. Thatís what I thought a missionary did, though I wasnít sure of the exact job description at seven when I thought I felt the call of God on my very young life.

I knew it would mean giving up friends and moving miles and miles away from home, to a different culture, and eat things I wouldnít hold in my hands, much less bring up to my lips.

But that was going to be okay, because I was going to be a missionary, and thatís what missionaries did. They lived a life of drama and romance. Or so I thought.

But then, I was also going to be a movie star. Have long flowing hair, and command, by my very presence, an audience to stand on their feet in a roar of applause.
There is no applause for being a missionary.

Thus the dilemma, when I was seven.

Now that Iím older, and wear shoes that I find attractive rather than practical, I know better, about being a missionary.

I know I could never have done it.

I have a friend who did. She worked in Cambodia and she told me about the heat, the people, a life that isnít really your own, not really. A life that is constantly available to the people around her. And where she doesnít care what kind of shoes are on her feet, as long as they get her over rough country to where sheís going when the four wheel drive gives out. And her eyes shine when she tells me, and her smile is real. About the people, and the love she feels for them. Real love. Not the kind that smiles and says how are you, but the kind that draws them into her own life, and ultimately, into His. And sometimes I have to look away, because maybe, just maybe, I was supposed to be there as well. But Iím not.

Our pastor preaches that we are all missionaries, right where we are.

But it still isnít the same thing. Not really. Thatís being a witness. Not a missionary. A missionary, well, that involves a special kind of sacrifice.
A special place in the eyes of God. It has to.

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Member Comments
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I have to disagree with your interpretation of what a missionary is. It is a person who is on a mission for God. A person who bears witness for him to those who don't know him. I don't believe you have to leave the country for that. There is much need for it everywhere.

There are groups set up in this country to train people to be missionaries in the U.S. I applaude those who do go out into areas of the unknown and risk their lives. They are amazing, but God calls all of us to be missionaries, and because we all have special talents and gifts it wouldn't make sense to send us all to third world countries.
Lynda Schultz 10/27/06
I chuckled at the reference to the shoes - on my mission field in Caracas among the middle/upper class, fashionable shoes are one of those things that open doors to relationships. Our "jungle" is a concrete one. But what you have written reflects the mentality of many - it's a shame that so many miss the blessing of obedience blinded by the so-called "sacrifices."
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/28/06
This was very well written, showing, through the narrator's lack of understanding, what it means to be a missionary.
Donna Haug10/28/06
I do agree with your definition of a missionary - it involves a cross cultural aspect - but that can be at many different levels. You CAN be a missionary in your own country, because we have so many different cultures in our own countries. Sharing Christ with others around us is ESSENTIAL, and it's called evangelism. But don't hold missionaries on a pedestal. They're just regular people - and they need your prayers. Good word.
Gregory Kane10/29/06
I thought there was a lovely contrast here between the restlessness of the person who never went and the woman who found such fulfilment in Cambodia. Of course itís never too late - my own mother-in-law went out to North Africa in her late 50s.

I particularly enjoy the debate among the various commentators as to what a missionary is. In my book we are all called to do the work of an evangelist where we are. But a missionary has a special call (rather than a universal commission) to go to another culture, normally but not always overseas.
RuthAnn Cornelson10/29/06
We're getting caught up a bit on semantics here. A generally accepted definition of missionary is someone who goes to a foreign country - someone sent on a mission--especially a religious or charitable mission to a foreign country.(WordNet ģ 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University). The author is correct that it's different being a "witness" and being a missionary.We are all called to be witnesses and to be prepared to give an answer at any time for the faith that is in us(Timothy) We are all part of the great COmission. We all need to do the first part "in Judea and Jerusalem", the missionary does the "then to the uttermost parts of the earth" part. That's what our word "missionary" is and this author makes that point correctly.I appreciate her distinction between the two, having grown up an MK in
India in the early '50s. We are all parts of the same body and each of us important, just different. Thanks for the article. Well done.