If you are a Christ follower, did you know that you are a missionary?
Missionaries are not limited to those who live in foreign lands in order to share the gospel. You are a missionary right in your own town.
I was reminded of this last night.
My husband and I ran into the local grocery store last night in response to our daughter’s text informing us of her urgent need for shampoo and conditioner. And as we turned the corner, there was a fellow parent from our son’s senior class.
She was widowed at the start of the school year. We had walked with her through the dark days of her husband’s diagnosis, his grueling and heartbreaking treatment, death, and funeral. Many tears were shed and sometimes when there were no words, we were able to give the gift of our presence. Our sons are both very actively involved in school activities so our paths have crossed often.
It can be so hard to know what to do in situations like this. Everyone responds to grief and stress differently.
So I did what I could.
I picked up my camera and took photos of her son at every school event that his dad was too weak to attend so that he could see what he had missed and feel like he was there.
When he was well enough to attend things, I took photos of him with his wife and his son. I snapped the last photo of him before his death: standing by the lake in the bright late May sunshine, proudly wearing his hat that represented his 20 years of service in the Navy. After I clicked the shutter, I pretended to examine my camera so he wouldn’t see the tears in my eyes.
I offered to take walks with her and we covered a lot of territory in this small town.
One afternoon, I had been at the grocery store and drove all the way home before I realized that I had forgotten something. I admit that I was irritated as I ran into the store, bought the one item and rushed into the parking lot. It was cold and it was getting dark and I was anxious to get home.
This friend was just pulling into the parking lot next to my car. I could see that she had been crying, having had to escape her sad home where death was stalking her family, if even for a little while.
I knew then that this was a divine appointment. We must have stayed in that parking lot for an hour that night. She poured out her pain and her questions and I listened.
I invited her to church. She politely declined the invitation. I shared the hope of the gospel. She was not interested. I told her that I pray for her daily. She thanked me. We invited her and her son over for a family dinner at Christmastime and she was brave enough to try my cooking and lived to tell the tale. 🙂
In this, her son’s senior year of high school, she has shown up to every event, every awards ceremony, every band concert alone. We have arrived early to save seats, greeted her with a friendly wave and a smile, and rejoiced with her at her son’s many achievements and successes. I have continued to take photos, documenting her son’s senior year for her.
And last night, my husband and I stood in the shampoo aisle for nearly an hour as we talked and laughed and she & I predicted that we would be sobbing messes on graduation day next week. We agreed to do a lot more walking in the never-ending quest to be healthy forty-somethings.
On the way out of the store, we see one of my daughter’s classmates at the end of our aisle, cheerfully bagging our groceries. This girl lost her mama at the beginning of the school year. She has been to our home, eaten at our table. There is never any mention of a father. So, I pick up my camera and I document her events and post them to her Facebook page since her mama isn’t here to do it. I ask her about her summer plans and encourage her as she gets ready to embark on a new adventure. We leave her with a smile.
Ministry can absolutely happen at the local grocery store.
This morning, I logged onto Facebook and saw that my friend had written on my wall, thanking Doug and me for being “little bits of sunshine in my day whenever I see them.”
I felt led to share all of this to remind anyone who reads it that we are all missionaries. We all have a ministry.
As you can see, I did not do anything extraordinary here. I listened. I walked, I took pictures. I cooked a meal. I prayed. I shared the gospel when He led me to do so.
You can do the same.
All Jesus asks us to do is show up. To be available. To use what we have to bless others. God has gifted you with unique talents, experiences, and abilities. It is no accident that you live in the town you do and know the people you know. He is at work all the time.
There is so much need out there. There is so much pain and brokenness.
We are all broken somehow and we need each other.
In today’s Jesus Calling, Sarah Young writes: “Look at other people through the lens of Love; see them from My perspective…be radiant with the Light of My Presence.” (p. 168).
This world is a dark place. We know the One who is the Light of the world. Love people right where they are. Do what you can and leave the results to Him.
Shine for Him right where you are.
“…Get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God has called you to travel…Say only what helps, each word a gift…Keep company with (Jesus) and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that…Make the most of every chance you get…Forget yourself long enough to lend helping hand…Do everything readily and cheerfully! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society: Provide people with a glimpse of the living God. Carry the light-giving message into the night.” (excerpts from Ephesians and Philippians, The Message version).
This is the rich, blessed life.