Written by a Cafe 1040 Student
Where were you 90 days ago? While it’s hard to think back that far, I know where I was: sitting apprehensively in an airport, unsure of what to expect for the next 3 months, but eager to see what God had in store.
I didn’t know what city I would live in or what my teammates were like in person, and I didn’t even know how to say “hello” in the local language. Now, almost three months later, our base-town almost seems like a second home. I’ve experienced life with my team and learned so much from them (including how to be cut-throat in Settlers of Catan), and also how to say much more than just “hello” It’s been an eventful 3 months!
But now, in less than a week, I’ll be sitting in an airport waiting apprehensively again, but for different reasons this time. While I know God is sovereign over everything (and by abiding with Him I know I can trust Him), I know that He expects me to steward and apply what I’ve learned here in South Asia. He doesn’t teach us things in vain. To borrow a quote by Uncle Ben from Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
So how does God want me to use what I’ve learned and what steps forward should I take to use that knowledge responsibly? I’d like to share some of the most important things I’ve learned, and then what some of those potential steps going forward might look like.
To start, a main emphasis of this program is to dispel myths surrounding cross-cultural missions and to help people understand potential obstacles that would keep them from serving long-term overseas.
If I can say I’ve learned one thing, it’s the true motivation behind missions: not just to “save” people (while that’s important) but to do what God commanded us way back in the garden: to display His glory throughout the entire world by spreading the knowledge of Him.
That leads to the next thing I’ve learned: God doesn’t need any one person, or myself in particular, to do His work, yet He chooses to use us anyway. If He needed us, who would receive the glory?
One example is a friend I met during our first week here, whose name is Paul. While Paul is not a follower of Christ, the opportunities we’ve had to share with him (and the "chance" encounter that led to our acquaintance in the first place) have had nothing to do with us, and to hear of his previous encounters with Christians really shows how God is at work.
I don’t know how the story will end, but God does and to think that He invites us to play a part in that work is humbling.
And third, probably the most important takeaway from the semester, has been simply the importance of talking with and abiding in Christ.
We tend to measure the success of a missionary by the amount of fruit he produces, but is this how God measures success?
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians in chapter 3, he explicitly states that it is God who brings the increase, not us. Also, in the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13 we learn that it is the quality of our heart’s soil that matters most for producing fruit.
So how do we remove the weeds and nourish the soil to bear the most fruit? By abiding with Him.
If we abide, not only do we bear fruit, but we also gain what is most important through the whole process: Him.