An Apology to All Non- “Missionaries”

by Laura on March 24, 2012

I read a lot of missionary blogs.

When someone comments from Peru or Vietnam or Sudan, I click, and I read. Because the world fascinates me. It is a big, beautiful place, and God is doing amazing things on all corners of it. Absolutely.

But, as I have read missionary blogs, and as I have watched videos about world races, I am struck with the subtle arrogance of the Western missionary’s language. Things {something} like this are all over our websites and newsletters:

“I knew that there was more to life than the 9-t0-5 in America. I was just a businessman, and now I get to be so much more.”

“I felt God calling me into a bigger story. One that wasn’t so comfortable and easy.”

“I am living a good story, because I am moving overseas to Africa.”

“I’ve spent my whole life in the normal, but now I am embracing real adventure.”

“There is desperate need in India, and I finally get to become Jesus’s hands and feet.”

Okay, friends.  Put yourself in the non-missionary’s shoes. What does this kind of language communicate? Reading our overseas blogs from North Carolina or Colorado or California, what are we saying to all of those who aren’t choosing to live in a foreign country?

That their story isn’t good because they aren’t feeding African children?

That they can’t see God work in miraculous ways in the West?

That there is something selfish about simply rooting where you are planted?

That God doesn’t show up in dramatic ways in the “normal,” that there isn’t need in the States?

That their Christ-following is somehow, less?

This is wrong. All of it.

Because yes, the video of the white guy with the poor kids and the inspirational music in the background is dramatic and inspirational, but his story isn’t better by any means than the housewife who is trying to flesh out her faith in the same hometown she grew up in.

It. is. not.

Despite what our media sells us. Or our Christian circles tell us. Or the popular communicate in their highly-edited videos.

Following Jesus and loving others well can happen anywhere. Is hard anywhere. And can speak transformation anywhere.

And, so, friends who might read here and who aren’t choosing to live overseas, let me officially apologize– on behalf of myself and on behalf of all the missionary-media you’ve seen.

If the power of your story has felt devalued because you have chosen to do the hard{er?} work of staying and loving others right where you are, I ask your forgiveness.

Because a good story most definitely doesn’t require a passport.

And, to my missionary friends, please, please, forthelove, be careful in your communication. Be careful that you are not subtly telling your followers, your supporters, your friends back home that they are less.

The choice to usher in the Kingdom deserves respect, wherever it takes place.

***************

Related. When Missions Goes Hollywood   |  Quiet Heroes    |   They Guy in the Rice Field Never Read Wild at Heart  |  Living a Good Story

Thoughts on Missionary-Media? Been hurt by it? Done it badly yourself? Bring it.

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  • Ben Wolff

    We are here on earth from one purpose, and that purpose is to do what God has commanded us to do. Spin the story any way you would like, but the truth is God commands us to go into the world and proclaim His good news. If any believers life goal isn’t geared around that then he is in direct disobedience to God. I’ve *never* ever heard a missionary claim his job is more important than that of his supporters back home and he is always supremely grateful for their obedience to the Lord through their support. There is a fine line between staying home for serving God through support and other ministries and staying home out of direct disobedience to God all the while calling missionaries serving God faithfully ‘arrogant’. If any Christian’s life isn’t fully sold out to proclaiming the Gospel to those who haven’t heard, then they are living their lives in disobedience, selfishness, and lies. There’s no such thing as a non-missionary believer, God appointed us as His missionaries in the very act of saving us. It is our God-commanded responsibility to preach the Gospel to *all*nations*. Remember that it is a sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it. __John 14:23_ “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words” KJV__Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say.” NLT

  • Ben Wolff

    We are here on earth for one purpose, and that purpose is to do what God has commanded us to do. Spin the story any way you would like, but the truth is God commands us to go into the world and proclaim His good news. If any believers life goal isn’t geared around that then he is in direct disobedience to God. I’ve *never* ever heard a missionary claim his job is more important than that of his supporters back home and he is always supremely grateful for their obedience to the Lord through their support. There is a fine line between staying home and serving God through support andor other ministries and staying home out of direct disobedience to God all the while calling missionaries who are faithfully serving God ‘arrogant’. If any Christian’s life isn’t fully sold out to proclaiming the Gospel to those who haven’t heard, then they are living their lives in disobedience, selfishness, and lies. There’s also no such thing as a non-missionary believer, God appointed us as His missionaries in the very act of saving us. It’s our God-commanded responsibility to preach the Gospel to *all*nations*. We are to proclaim the Good News of Christ remembering that it is a sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it. __John 14:23_ “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words” KJV__Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say.” NLT

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  • Lou Ann Keiser

    Good thoughts! No matter which side of the “ponds” we’re on, it’s good to keep an accurate perspective. Yes, we have a great life! Yes, ANYONE who lives for the Lord has a great life! And, yes, God loves to give good gifts to His children. God bless!

  • Inthestates

    Thank you. Right now I’m dealing with an arrogant pastor’s kid who just got back from Africa and is boasting on about how hard it was for her and all the stuff she had to give up because “that’s the life of a missionary *sigh*” Makes the rest of us feel like we’ve been bad Christians.

  • loveGod

    Wow! You are one arrogant person. Go get a job and support yourself… Jesus was a carpenter, Paul worked too… If SOMEONE didn’t stay home and work their knuckles to the ground YOU wouldn’t be able to do what you do!! Ever read Acts 17:26…. pretty clear there that we can’t all pack ourselves into India, or Africa… we are to inhabit THE WHOLE EARTH… so unfortunately for us losers, that means some of us have to stay home and work to support YOU and we also are called to witness and be a light RIGHT WHERE WE ARE PLANTED. And have you ever read the verse in 1 Thessalonians 4:11 where it says “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will NOT BE DEPENDANT ON ANYBODY”!!!
    I’m sorry but I think your “pendulum” needs some adjusting.. and clearly you missed the point of the blog above… you are THAT missionary… and I’m SO beyond sick of self entitled, arrogant “missionaries” like you, most of you are running away from the harsh realities of home and are to cowardly to deal with real life so you run away, live off other people’s money and although I will not deny that you may do a lot of GOOD for others it comes from a real rotten heart. If GOD called you somewhere HE would provide for you and you wouldn’t HAVE to GUILT or remind ANYONE to give YOU MONEY… or decide if any one is “really following the great commission from home”!! Sounds like you don’t really trust God to provide for HIS work all that much…. I have tons of amazing missionary friends who have truly been CALLED…. and they would never have written anything as disgusting this…. you really should be ashamed of your self. If I were you I would leave all your judging up to God!! God calls, we obey…. it’s just that simple and you have no right to judge who’s life is HARDER!! Walk a mile in my shoes… we can be raped, beaten, sold, starved, abused in NORTH AMERICA TOO!!! You don’t guilt me out one bit…. you make me sick. I am so thankful I serve a gracious and loving God and I’m SO glad he didn’t leave people like you in charge of deciding who is “disobeying” Him and who isn’t… wish you knew Him better…

  • inthestates

    Yeah yeah great, now please go debate with the college student who’s clearly headed for Hell because he knows so much more than God. He’d probably make a fool of most missionaries. Knock it off with “I’m getting more rewards because it’s harder” stuff.

  • sarah jane

    wow. you are one angry person.

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