In a world full of popular psychology terms, you hear this word alot. Usually linked with co-dependency. The family of an alcoholic continuing to clean up the messes and prop up the sick person. Parents continuing to support an adult child with no plans for getting a real job. Patrick continuing to make late night ben and jerry's runs for me. (That would be in a past life.) I've always associated it with accomplishing negative things. Over the last year, I've come to see a different side of this word.
It actually began a few years ago. Becoming a missionary pilot was a long journey. The whole family had to be together in this goal, as we all re arranged everything, even moving all around the country, to make it happen. Knowing we were moving towards international missions, I didn't mind a bit. In fact, I was ecstatic. As everyone knows, all I'd wanted my entire life was to be a missionary. And this meant finding someone who did not know the Gospel, and probably had no easily accessible way of hearing the Gospel. So it didn't matter what we had to do to get there. Because I was going to be "a missionary to Africa." (and of course, I knew all about it, because I had done it before. (spoken with heavy sarcasm.).)
As we got closer to reaching the goal, I tried to have realistic expectations, keeping in mind two very important things: I was now married, with a family, and 3 little children whom I homeschool, and also that we would be serving in a support role. Both these realities were different from my first experience. But I was convinced that I would still fulfill my calling of being "a missionary" because we were, at least, going to be living in Africa. And after all, you can be a missionary wherever you are. Just find people who don't know Jesus, right? Easy peasy.
Let me tell you. It may not work that way. Before we left our home church, FSBC Pratt Kansas, we had the awesome opportunity to be with the kids in VBS. It was so much fun. One of the activities we did was make a human chain, with each child holding a picture of a possible role in missions, all the way from supporters to the "tip of the spear", the ones living in a hut in the village telling someone about Jesus for the very first time. There were easily 10 children in between, one of them being the missionary pilot. I tried very hard to communicate to them that each and every link in our chain was equally important. We are all on the same team, working towards the same goals. When I got here, it didn't take me long to realize that I hadn't absorbed my own message very well. As far as it concerned everyone else, I did. But me, I still wanted to be the end of the chain. Even though I consider every person standing with me to be equally committed and necessary, I wanted to be the one.
But I started to see exactly how unrealistic that was, for a few reasons: not having the time for language study, the necessary time to build relationships, the time to be in the community in general; the children not always feeling comfortable in this environment ( I know I've covered this before); Patrick's schedule being unpredictable sometimes, and so needing to be flexible and available myself; guests coming through, and needing to prepared with groceries and cooking, which takes a lot longer here. And the biggest reason of all: our small town has quite a few churches. There are many many of this people group who are still unreached, but if there are churches here, then the local Body is the one to reach their own people, not this overzealous but quite ill equipped (culture and language wise), so-tall-I-stick-out everywhere white girl.
Wouldn't you know, I got frustrated that so many people knew about Jesus! (How's that for twisted thinking?) Missionaries have been here for many many years. There are churches and pastors. There is a significant need for discipleship, training evangelists and other leaders, and Bible study. But we don't live in an unreached area, we aren't here for that. We are here because of the strategic location to support the work of many unreached peoples in surrounding areas, primarily S Sudan. So, they don't need "missionaries" here in Lokichoggio. I think they need strong, mature, sincere followers of Christ, but not missionaries per say. I could even go to an extreme and say, I'm not "needed." I definitely can't fly an airplane. I can barely change the batteries in my headlamp.
But there has always been somewhere I am needed. Needed so much it can drive my crazy. Teeth need to be brushed, meals need to be made, laundry needs to be done, thank you letters need to be written. Little minds need to be challenged and directed, little hearts need to be discipled. A big mind and a big heart needs support and encouragement. I am needed. I've always been needed. But not necessarily where I've always wanted to be needed. The Lord and I have had it out over this issue. (Well, He has listened to me.) Why, I ask, would you have put this desire in my heart, since the time I could remember, to be a missionary? Only to have me be living here, where I don't feel like a missionary? I'm not the one actually doing the missionary work. Which seems to lead to unfulfillment, and resentment of those who are actually doing it.
Eventually I came to this conclusion: I wouldn't be here at all if I didn't want every person to be able to hear the Gospel, if I didn't long for the day when Jesus will be glorified as He deserves. I wouldn't have even come this far. It took that heart, that burden, that longing, to get me here. So I did do something with it, it wasn't wasted, misunderstood, or misplaced. Without that, I never would have come. It isn't just those diehard hut dwellers, the "real" missionaries, who want to see the Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. It's all of us. It's the Bible translator; it's the pilot, and the mechanic back at the hangar; it's the person who does the finances; it's the couple who head up the media team; it's the teachers at RVA; it's the folks in our home office at Peach Tree City, Georgia; it's the missions committee at our churches; it's the pastors; it's our blessed, amazing supporters;
and it's this stay at home mom. I do what I do because I want to see people turn to Jesus and worship Him. I get malaria; I write thank you notes; I get really really really dirty and sweaty and itchy every day; I don't get to hug and kiss my new baby nephew; I live 2.5 days drive from a decent coffeeshop; I struggle and embarrass myself every single day with language; I go to church where I can barely understand a thing, and feel silly the whole time;
and its for a purpose. because I may not be the one actually carrying it out, but somewhere, somebody is being told the Truth for the very first time. somewhere, somebody's heart is being opened to the Gospel. Somewhere, idols, either real or theoretical, are being pushed aside and Jesus is being worshipped.
And you know what? In a small small way, I enable that.
Are you an enabler?