Kellers in Africa

our life in Zambia

Tag: Missions

Undressing Missions

Recently there has been a lot of talk around the internet and blog-osphere about MISSIONS.  Mostly I’ve seen people hashing out the million ways it’s being done wrong: wrecking culture, producing dependency, maligning the name of Christ, etc.  Really bad stuff- and really going on in some places.

Naturally, I find the whole discussion fascinating.

In Missions there are as many opinions as there are methods.
Wait… I think there are actually more opinions… (for better or worse)

There is certainly and undeniably a reason why the Church at large is having a second look at missions.  And this is possibly one of the most positive aspects of the whole discussion- people are looking at missions.  I’m hoping this has the same effect that a movie production does for book sales.  Let’s face it, few of us read the classics until the movie comes out.  Maybe this spotlight on missions will propel a new wave of missionaries into the world.  As people have the opportunity to consider and critique world missions, maybe they’ll feel compelled to head out here themselves.

The thoughts expressed by interested bloggers have been really interesting.  MORE interesting have been the comments these posts have generated.  Everyone has an opinion about how Missions should be done- and this is (usually) a great thing.  HOWEVER, one observation I’d like to throw out into cyberspace (let’s go ahead and call it my “two cents”):

It’s no more possible to generalize Missions than it is to delineate parenting and project the definite outcome.  Or the future.  Or war.  Or the working out of our faith in Christ.  Because those things make up missions.  And adding the aspect of cross-cultural to Missions means increasing the variables and uncertainty.

Let’s absolutely dialogue about Missions and how to do it better.  But let’s bear in mind that Missions is about people and people don’t fit well into absolute formulas.

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”
Proverbs 16:3

I challenge you to look- really look at world missions. Look at what is being done poorly. Look at what is being done well. Then ask the hard question:
“God, how should I be involved?”

Why do we do this again??

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???

Delicious local cuisine. Yum.

“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.

Home Depot

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.

Joy in adversity

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.

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