Missions is so glamorous. We get to do all kinds of awesome, world-changing activities everyday, dynamically affecting every person we meet. When we get sick we are at least consoled that the diseases are exotic (read: involve diarrhea)- no humdrum headcolds for us! We regularly enjoy flavorful, indigenous foods like boiled cornmeal and okra. We live right alongside magnificent and dangerous wildlife like
lions spiders and giraffes snakes. We get to tell thrilling stories about parasites, broken vehicles, and cultural disasters. It’s the dream life, baby. Why don’t more people sign up???
“Wait, I sense sarcasm. Do you mean you aren’t actually riding around on an elephant, passing out tracts and singing ‘I’ll Fly Away’ in the local language?? I’m so disillusioned!”
Ok, so if it’s not everything that the big fund-raising gigs and missions conferences crack it up to be, then what’s the real story? If every day is not a Billy Graham crusade, then what is it? Do we not chase down every man, woman, and child in Kabwe and ascertain their stance on Christ and eternity? And what about the starving? The orphaned? And AIDS, yeesh, shouldn’t that issue alone take up at least 2 or 3 days of my week?? “Reaching the lost”, “discipleship”, “building relationships”… what does it all MEAN?
The short version? It means we work our butts off against a daily list of challenges and difficulties, and we do it because we’re crazy. Wait… that’s not right. We do it because it makes us feel good about ourselves. No, that definitely doesn’t apply to the last 5 weeks of my life. One last try:
We work in Africa because it needs to be done and because the Lord loves the poor. Serving pleases Him so we do it (those are Tim’s words, I couldn’t figure out how to say it without sounding oh-so-hyper-spiritual and la-di-da). Serving others, making disciples, and increasing His kingdom makes God happy, whether it’s through the “daily grind” in your community in the States or in the great Battle Against the Elements in Africa. As the Body of Christ we are (or should be) working with a “kingdom mentality”. Ok, there I go again, what does THAT mean?!
The bottom line is: we, the Kellers, work and serve in many ways. Sometimes it’s teaching Zambians about Christ or how to evangelize. Sometimes it’s preaching, teaching, discipling, leading, training or preparing for those things. Sometimes it’s spending three days trying to get the correct pipe for our water tank because the local “shops” all carry EXTREMELY cheap Chinese-made GARBAGE and you have to find it in their backroom yourself under piles of other cheap garbage (after waiting in line for hours on end). Ok, done ranting now.
In my experience, “making a difference for Christ” is never easy. And here the “devil is in the water” so to speak (well giardia and E.coli are anyway). The physical challenges are daunting. Overwhelming, occasionally mind-crippling, frustrating, discouraging- these are all part and parcel of our work. Disease (not just germs, I’m talking real disease), parasites, heat, language barriers, cultural barriers, government finagling, financial restrictions, distance from loved ones, poor food, bugs, rats, thieves…. the list can go on and on and… anyway….
And WHY? “Why did I sign up for this again???” Is a question I ask myself
every once in a great while at least once a month week more often than a woman on a mission should. Why? Well, I can go super-spiritual and tell you that the devil has a foothold in Africa (which would be true). I can be practical and tell you that this continent has not had the benefits of millennia of civilization like Europe has (and even North and South America to a lesser extent). This would also be true.
But the real problem? The actual reality? The difficulty, the challenge, the issue we deal with in missions? It might surprise you. In fact, I bet you can relate on a personal level:
It’s a fallen world. It’s a world that does not embrace Christ and grace.
Being a part of the Body of Christ means taking on the bad with the good. And there’s a lot of bad here. But there is a lot of GOOD too. A lot. There are a lot of people who respond JOYFULLY to the news of redemption- true forgiveness and grace. We so take God for granted in the States, but in Zambia, enslaved by animism, people shake off the shackles with incredible joy.
So there it is. We’re in Africa because…
oh come on, we’re here because we are definitely, positively, at least a little bit crazy.
And we like it here.
God bless Africa.