I recently had the privilege of spending a few days working with a team of four families that had flown all the way from New Zealand to build a home with Homes of Hope. For three full days, we worked beneath the blazing sun -- drilling, painting, and hammering to build a brand new home for a family that had been living in a shack for 23 years.
This is the missionary life
On the third day—in the final hours of scrambling around to try and get everything finished—I was kneeling on the cement floor painting, a puddle of my own sweat in the dust beneath me, when I stopped for a second and looked up. I saw men drilling the last few door frames in place. I saw little children—some with freckly, pale skin and others with dark, brown skin—laughing and brushing the final coat of turquoise paint on the outside of the house. I saw women helping each other unpack fresh sheets and stack the new kitchen shelf full of food and toiletries. I saw a beautiful Mexican family sitting in the remnants of their old, rundown shack, excitedly awaiting the moment when they would get to walk through their new home for the first time.
I saw God unleashing heaven here on earth.
Sometimes it's hard
Lots of people ask me what it’s like to be a full-time missionary, and I always hesitate. Because if I’m perfectly honest, life as a missionary is hard. It’s challenging. It’s trying. It’s often downright heart-breaking. It’s incredibly easy to choke yourself on all the worries. I am forever thinking about what’s next, always sending out support letters, always trying to scrape together a few dollars just to buy shampoo.
Often, I spend too much time staring up at the mountain of need, feeling overwhelmed. I watch such painful injustice and I weep. I have spent hours trying to tell someone about God, only to have them walk away completely uninterested. I sit through some of my quiet times, frustrated, and I question my purpose in being here.I have thought of giving up, of trying somewhere else, of going to college instead, of leaving this life behind. Reality is that sometimes—actually, a lot of times—missionary life just isn’t all that glamorous.
But it's worth it
It’s a life of sleeping on bunk beds, bus seats, foam mats on the floor, and in the corner of busy airports. It’s a life of emptying your wallet of everything that you have—even though you desperately needed the money—so that somebody else can go on their outreach to Cambodia. It’s a life of kneeling in the dust to clean out infected cuts and wounds in the Philippines for hours on end. It’s a life of a huge community of people who are all so madly in love with Jesus. It’s a life of wiping away tears as you hand over the keys to a brand-new house to a family that is quietly weeping with gratitude.
It might not be glitzy. You might not be successful according to the world, and you might be questioned by your family or mocked by your friends. But it’s incredibly worth it. To live on the front lines, to not just read about the stories of what God is doing abroad, but to be apart of the stories yourself, to watch your faith grow. We sacrifice our time, money, belongings, and personal space to go to the very ends of the earth and tell people about the God who loves them. It’s an adventure, and I am so glad to be on it.
So, do you think you have what it takes to become a missionary?