The ‘M’ word
You don’t have to be a ‘missionary’ to live a mission-minded life. “Missionary” conjures up a wide range of different images. For example, I used to have this image of female missionaries being in long flowing skirts and having a bad hair-do. Missionaries were people who were sent overseas to remote places and you would not hear from them for a long time. They were people who had big faith, little money, lived in wooden stilt homes and were willing to pay huge costs for the Lord. I’m not sure where I had gotten these stereotypes from; now some of these perceptions may be true, but this stereotypical image was stuck in my head even before I started meeting people who were actually missionaries. It wasn’t until I started attending Island ECC in Hong Kong and I visited a friend from Australia who had moved to Cambodia as a missionary that I realised my perception might just be a little off. I started to realise that many of the staff working in our own church were in fact missionaries. In fact, it seemed like missionaries in Hong Kong often came in the form of people like you or me. I started to know missionaries who needed to raise their own financial support and some who worked to provide for their own support. Missionaries were not people who just wandered around preaching the gospel door to door, from village to village, but they can also have professional jobs. I started to understand that God can send anyone anywhere, including banks and schools in a developed city like Hong Kong, and that is their realm of missions. All of a sudden, my definitions of “missionary” and “missions” had to change. I must confess, I love meeting up with missionaries. In the last few years, I have met missionaries who live in persecuted countries, missionaries who have given up their jobs and comfort to move somewhere else, missionaries who have stayed right where they were to minister to their own people. Often over a meal or coffee, I would listen to stories of God at work through both the valleys and the mountains, and we would share lives. Normal lives that are also not so normal. Over the years as I got to know them, they stopped being “missionaries” in my vocabulary, but friends and part of my family in Christ. These are friends I would catch up with when we were in the same city, people I would keep in touch with throughout the years. I am encouraged by the conscious decisions each has made to follow Christ. I see their answer to His call, a response to His love in the way they have chosen to live. I am often challenged by their passion for God and for His kingdom. Like the twelve disciples, these are ordinary men and women who answered Jesus’ call of “follow me.” For some, it did mean being sent out to another country to serve the poor, the widows, the abandoned, the lost. For others, it meant taking up a job in a non-profit organisation or church that could utilise their professional skills and willing heart to serve. Missionaries were not as “removed” from my everyday life as I had thought, but they were rubbing shoulders with me at work; they could be your colleague at the bank, or your teacher at school. I thank God for these men and women who are examples of what it means to take up the cross. In other words, you don’t have to be a missionary to live a mission-minded life. While some are sent to other countries for His work, God has also called us to be a light in the marketplace, in schools, hospitals, government, and media. These too have answered Jesus’ call of “follow me” and have been sent out to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ from the place He has assigned for us. Modern missions is evolving along with the rapidly changing world of technology and communication. We need to ask God what a mission-minded life looks like in our lives, and listen to His answer. I pray that as a church, we will continue to encourage and support our partners in different countries, many of them local missionaries faithfully living out the gospel in word and deed. I pray that we will be a church body responds to God’s call in our lives to be light and salt so that others may praise God and follow Him.
Article by Florence Chiu With permission from IGO Global Outreach, Island Evangelical Community Church, Hong Kong. Click here to watch Kevin and Jeh Sie’s story. A great example of modern missions in action.