Faith, Life, Missions, Relationships, Travel

A lover of people … a lover of places?

Until today, I had a particular idea about missions. I had decided last summer that there was a difference between being a traveler-at-heart and a missionary-at-heart.  I had thought I was the first. After all, in all the trips I’ve taken, I’ve yet to find my niché in ministry overseas. However, I’m struggling with this idea now.

I’ve realized this difference because of the way I have been so torn up with the events in Egypt.  I didn’t love the monuments or the location of Egypt. I didn’t love the beauty of the dirt streets or even the sites and museums.  No, I loved the people.

My heart is not breaking for the destruction of the square where those thousands have gathered to protest (and even some to support) Mubarak.  No, my heart breaks for the men with flags and rocks and handwritten signs that say “Mubarak must go.”  My heart breaks for the little, shoeless children I see following the mobs. My heart breaks for the women, who are fighting as well.

Is not that the heart of missions?  Isn’t that what missions is all about? It’s not about the location where you’re sent to serve. It’s not about the history of the culture or even the culture itself. Missions is about loving the people of that culture into the kingdom of God.

I’ve lived in other cultures.

I’ve lived here in the United States for most of my life. I’ve lived in Israel for 3 1/2 months, and last summer, I spent time in South Africa and Mozambique.

I’m not in love with the Unites States. Don’t get me wrong; I’m so blessed to be here. I’m so blessed to have been raised in a country with the freedoms we have. I don’t want to take that for granted.

However, there is a love in my heart for these other countries I have stayed in, a love — not for the monuments or the aspects of the culture that are different from American culture — that is rooted in the relationships I built while there.

I think about the time I spent in Israel.  I learned so much; my heart and soul were flooded with the growing and firsthand knowledge of the land and culture of the Bible, the footsteps of Christ. I remember my trip to Jordan, the people, the interactions. My heart aches to return.

I remember my trip to South Africa, and to this day, treasure the relationships I built there both with my team and with the people we went to serve.  There is a part of my heart that was left in Polokwane, a part left in Mozambique.

Now, as I think about Egypt and the uprisings there, I know, more than I have ever realized before, just how much of my heart was left in Egypt.  I didn’t leave it at the Cairo museum or in the snorkeling waters of the Blue Hole in Dahab.  No, I left it with the people of Egypt.

My heart cries out for the Muslim people of Egypt.

Never have I met some well-meaning people with no spiritual hope.

Never have I met such sincere people with a false religion that is killing them.

Never have I seen such dedication to a belief system that offered no hope, no peace, no joy, and no truth.

Never have I met such people that I learned to love so fast, to hurt for so much.

So, am I cut out for missions or do I just love travel?  Although that is not where I’ve been called at this point in my life, it’s good to know.

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