When I was little, I always thought it would be so cool to be a missionary. I would get to travel the world, and every four years come back to the States where every Sunday I would speak at a a different church and tell of the adventures I had been on overseas. I would describe the exotic foods, warm people, and miraculous signs that God had done. After service I imaged being greeted by hundreds of church goers telling me how they were encouraged by my message, and then would enjoy going out to lunch with the Pastor and his family. The problem with my ridiculous fantasy was that it was all about me.
In the back of my mind I understood that missionaries gave up a lot, and as I got older I decided I didn't want to be a missionary because of all that missionaries decide to give up, but I never understood sacrifice until I came to Paris.
I have the deepest respect for the staff here at The Bridge. One of my favorite parts about my trip is that I get to hear each one of their stories of how God brought them to Paris. I love how most of them never expected to be here, but some way or another God brought each of them here to create this incredible staff.
In Matthew Jesus talks about how a man must leave his home, his family, his friends, everything to follow him. I've never liked this verse very much because if Jesus came up to me off the street and told me to leave everything I have and everyone I love to go to some remote village in Kenya I would probably laugh at him. But as I listen to the stories from these missionaries, I am inspired by their dedication to Christ and the love that has compelled them to sacrifice everything.
I've discovered that missionaries aren't a group of spiritual elite whom God have chosen out of a group of ordinary Christians. Missionaries are people. They are the best kind of people because they are real. They have experienced life, real hard life, and have let the love of Christ transform those experiences into something he can use for his Kingdom. The staff at The Bridge love people with unconditional love, which I've found most churches preach but few live out.
Missionaries live with the end in mind. Because they have given so much up, they don't take ownership over things like ministries, positions, or even their own families. I don't know how to describe it, but they live with the understanding that at any moment God could easily move them somewhere else, stop their church, their ministry, or move them back to the states. They understand that they are not building "their own ministry" they are not building "their churches" but have one goal and that is to serve the Kingdom of God.
I am humbled and inspired by these incredible people who I get to work under this summer. First, I want to let Christ's love impact me in a way that I am willing to give everything I am to him. I don’t just want to say a prayer making Jesus the Lord of my life; I want to place him as Lord of my life. And second, I want to live with the end in mind, knowing that my life here on Earth is not my own, but has been bought by Jesus and I want to live for eternity.