When my husband and I were in seminary, we had a little joke to be able to tell the missionaries from the rest of us. Missionaries were the ones who wore flip flops in January. They spent more time outside in the grass than in the library. You could go to their houses and probably have to sit on the floor. They didn’t want to acquire too much stuff before they went on the field. Missionaries are different.
With all the funny qualities we can talk about that missionaries have, here are a five we hope to instill in our children:
1. Missionaries love people. I mean really love people. Different people. Poor people. Smelly people. They love people because God loves people. All people.
2. Missionaries know this world is not their home. You may remember missionaries coming to your church as a kid. They probably dressed funny, talked funny, and ate funny foods. You could tell that even if they called your home town “home,” that it really wasn’t home for them. They never get comfortable to the point of apathy.
3. Missionaries allow God to use their skills for His glory. You never know what talent or skill might open a door for you to do ministry. Missionaries know that you don’t put God in a box. Preachers, Sunday School teachers, and musicians are not the only people God uses to do His work.
4. Missionaries know first hand the power of prayer. Ask them and they will tell you! It is prayer and their dependence on God that fulfill their financial needs, their physical needs, and their emotional needs.
5. Missionaries endure persecution. Persecution is a reality for many missionaries and believers. From teasing and discomfort, to false accusations and torture, missionaries must trust God. And they must be able to defend what they believe.
It’s a hard thing as a mom to look at my seven year old and five year old and know someday they are going to leave. They will pack their bags, give us one last hug, and hopefully follow the path that God has chosen for them. Whether they are missionaries across the world or across the street, I want to encourage them to love people, know this world is not their home, allow God to use them, know the power of prayer, and be able to endure persecution. And, if they wear flip-flops in January, that’s ok too!