How long should a missionary stay on his field? Under what conditions should he consider his job “complete”? I believe many well-intentioned missionaries overstay their job in planting churches. After the church is planted, they want to stay and weed around it, water it, help it grow new leaves and deal with old ones. Eventually, this missionary, now a “gardener,” must leave indefinitely for medical reasons, at which point the plant loses more and more leaves, shrivels, and dies. Without its caretaker gardener, the plant doesn’t have its own structure, doesn’t believe that it is indeed a “plant.”
In fact, if the gardener had tended the plant until it reached basic maturity, and then left it alone, the plant would have had more chance of surviving long-term. This reminds me of peanut-butter sandwiches. My six-year-old nephew didn’t know how to make one because someone always made it for him. He was dependent on the sandwich-maker for his sustenance. However, when he learned how to make his very own sandwich – sloppy as it was – he knew he “owned” the sandwich, that he was responsible for it. And many more sandwiches were in his future!
Imagine a missionary and a national believer. Maybe the national is uneducated, informal, and poor. Many Western missionaries assume these qualities result in a dumb person, unable to understand the Bible or share his faith effectively. What about Christ’s students? He chose them, however lowly (fishermen) and despised (IRS agent Matthew) they were. These qualities, along with being poor and uneducated, should have disqualified them from Kingdom work. How did our Master think about them? He certainly would not trust them with building His church, would He?
When we see a believer, whether affluent from the suburbs, poor from the city, or uneducated from Appalachia, do we see them as equal workers in God’s kingdom? Who does Christ choose to build and maintain His church?
From the book’s cover: Steve Saint – Born and raised in South America by North American parents, Steve Saint has gone on to be a businessman, missionary, pilot, builder, designed, certified financial planner, speaker, and writer. Some of missionary martyr Nate Saint, Steve has become “family” to the tribe who killed his father. His unique life has given him a perspective on the Great Commission that is vital to the Body of Christ.
******************This guest post was written by Chris H who lives with his wife, Cassie, and son, Chaim, in the sunbelt. Chris & Cassie are currently preparing to go overseas as missionaries. When they aren't in training, working, or caring for Chaim, they raise ferrets and think up other names that start with "C".