Sunday, September 14, 2014

Salt and Light: Don't Forget the Mission

Don't forget the mission...

Was I starting Bible studies with Czechs or building meaningful relationships with my neighbors and was I fluent in Czech yet...

The questions caught me off guard and then the conversation finished with "Don't forget the mission." In answer to the questions, no, no (that would require seeing my neighbors and we all seem to keep very different schedules), working on it, and I haven't. I haven't forgotten the mission at all.

I remember why I am here every morning as I walk into my classroom. I'm reminded as we meet for devotions or prayer times as a staff and implore God to send us more students. I'm reminded as I've had students talk about how they know their teachers care because we do a job where we don't get paid.

And every time I see the brokenness around me, I have to fight to remind myself the reason. I see the darkness that engulfs this city, hear the statistics of how the Czech Republic is the 3rd worst slave state in Europe. I walk past people shooting heroin on the way to work and witness the man passed out on the tram, an empty wine box at his feet. And my heart breaks again. And again I have to fight to remind myself why I am here.

Because I'm not here to plant churches. As much as I want to fight human trafficking, that is not my primary reason for being here. I'm not in this country to start Bible studies with Czechs or to mentor my neighbors. Does that mean I don't want to be a part of these things? No, these are good things, noble things, honorable and right. But I am not the one God has called for that. (Not to say I would reject the chance to do any of those things if they come up, but they aren't ministries I seek out.)

Saying I'm a missionary to the Czech Republic is not necessarily the best terminology. Perhaps it is better to say I am a missionary IN the Czech Republic.

Because the people group I work with are not Czech. It is also equally right to say they are not Americans or Canadians or Korean or Italian or Polish. They are a crazy mix of cultures...a people group where conversations are effortlessly carried on in a mixture of languages (when I coached middle school volleyball, half of my practice was in Korean because a majority of my team was Korean and they would get so excited about things that they would start talking Korean). They love peanut butter just as much as they love trdelnik or Kimbop or fresh tortillas. They speak with authority on the best airports and airlines and carry on conversations with topics ranging from "when I lived in ______ country" to "when my family was visiting _______ country". They know their way around jet lag better than most adults. They are adaptable...and always, always facing change.

And I'm in this country for THEM. They are Third Culture Kids (TCKs) or Global Nomads, as some prefer to be called. Kids who have spent significant amounts of time outside their passport countries (which is probably not their "home" even if mom and dad call it home). Some of them are multi-ethnic, with parents from one or more countries. Some have spent most of their life in their passport country. Some have only left their passport countries in the past few years. Some have never even lived there at all.

They are incredible and amazing. And I'm here for them. To be a stable person in a very unstable world.

I'm here to be Jesus to them. By the light switch in our staff bathroom, someone posted "Be salt. Be light." That's what I am. Salt and light. I'm here to be the person who is here for my missionary kids--someone who is called specifically for them. To be Jesus to them, while their parents are doing what God has called them to do. And I love being a partner in ministry with them.

But I'm also here to be salt and light for my kids who do not come from families that know Jesus. And I have fallen in love with this role as well. I have had students walk into my room who knew nothing about how much God loves them, and I've gotten to tell them! For the first time. As much as I love the light that comes on when a student understand an academic concept (I am a teacher after all), I love even more when I see the light come on about a spiritual idea. Remembering when one of my students told me as she was leaving, "Don't be sad, Miss Miller. I know now God will be with me at my new school." And I got to be the first one to tell her that.

Salt and light. I remember why I'm here. Salt and light. I'm their salt and light in a busy world, a dark world. I'm here for them. Salt and light. 

I haven't forgotten the mission after all.

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