I’ve wanted to go into missions pretty much ever since I first heard about what missionaries do, when I was about eight years old. Maybe I thought the name “missionary” was the coolest name ever, or maybe I legitimately liked the idea of going “out into the world” to share the Gospel with people. I’m not sure. But that initial desire stuck with me for ten years and brought me to make it my main field of study at Abilene Christian University. But on the very first day of my very first Missions class, my professor told us that “to be a missionary is to be a Christian. The two mean the exact same thing.” I was floored. Did my own professor, who had himself been a missionary in Africa for about a decade, just discount what I was planning on studying for the next four years? What I was planning on making my career?
Luckily, I’ve held on to that statement for the past two years, and through that time, I’ve realized more and more how true that statement is. And now, spending my summer in New York City for an internship that focuses specifically on living a missional life, I’ve been able to work on figuring out how I can literally apply that idea to my own world. Over the past month and a half that I’ve been here, I’ve gotten to learn more and more what that really means.
One of the main lessons that I’ve learned so far is that missions, living a Christ-following life, is all about relationships. The relationships that you have with other persons define who you are to them. It should be evident that A) you’re invested in the relationship with them, and B) you’re invested in your relationship with Christ.
I also realized that a mindset that I’d had on what missions is might have been a little distorted. I felt like my “mission,” as a Christian, was to “win over” as many people as possible. Each new follower of Christ was another item on my Missionary résumé to fill in. However, that mindset could not be more off course. No other person should be considered as my mission. I am my own mission. Each and every day, I should be trying to greater figure out what it means to be a follower of Christ. And that should be reflected in my life and in my relationships. And the people that I bring with me are not my priority; rather, they’re the result of the priority. As a human being, I cannot change the heart of another human being. Only Jesus can do that. So, in my life, I must strive to have my heart look more and more like Jesus’s in order to show the world what it means to be one of his followers. Of course, I want others to know Christ and to bring others to him, but I believe that the best way to do that is to daily try to have him mold my heart, and everything else should blossom from that. And if I accomplish nothing else in this internship, I hope that at the very least I can claim that I’ve taken this realization with me back to Abilene, to my home with my parents in Houston, “to Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”