It’s hard to believe that I’ve been in Zambia now for almost a year and a half, and that I only have 6 months left to go before moving back home to Canada. It’s been wonderful, and a struggle and everything in between. I was talking to a friend the other night, and she asked me if I was grateful for all of the time I’ve been able to serve overseas – specifically in Zambia…and of course the answer was yes. She also had spent many years on the mission field and told me that often she would feel most alive when she felt like God was calling her to do something outside of her comfort zone. This was because she knew that she wasn’t able to do those particular things on her own, but instead that God was equipping her. I told her that I felt the exact same way.
I also told her that one thing I have struggled with the most while being in Zambia was whether or not I was actually doing something worthwhile with my time. I think every one has a different definition of what being a missionary is. Whether it is working with orphans and vulnerable children, participating in Bible translation, or running a camp, I have learned that being a missionary is not as black and white as I had always assumed.
I assumed that someone had to clearly hear the call of God – almost as if it was an audible voice, pack up all of their belongings and move to a foreign country. I assumed that being a missionary meant that all of the luxuries of life were stripped away from them and basically the more miserable you felt, the more you were in the will of God. Don’t get me wrong – I know that there are many individuals whose lives look similar to what I have just laid out, and I think that what they are doing is honourable. But out of all of the things I have learned/am learning while living in Zambia it is this: God is more concerned with the state of my heart, then what I am doing. To the world we may look amazing – we post pictures of us taking selfies with a vulnerable child, we buy tomatoes from the side of the road, and none of that is bad. I’ve done it and still do, but why am I doing it? Is it because I want everyone at home to think I’m some sort of Mother Theresa, or am I doing it to please Christ and serve Him?
That has been my biggest struggle over here. Never did I consider myself someone who wants to be in the limelight, but most of the time in the behind the scenes is when I struggle with wondering if this “missionary life” is purposeful and worthwhile. It’s funny because normally in those moments I think back to what my friend said when I was preparing to live in Kenya. At the time I knew that I would have a driver instead of me driving. I wasn’t exactly sure what my role would entail, and even before I left Canada I was telling her that I wasn’t sure if this was something I was called to do. What if I went all the way to Kenya and nothing big and exciting happened? What if I went all the way to Kenya and I wasn’t able to report back to my supporters of all the amazing things I was able to do? What if I went to Kenya and I wasn’t really called? And she said to me: “Melissa, God may be asking you to spend a year in Kenya to simply encourage that driver you will be with everyday”. Wait – THAT’S IT?
My very wise and humble friend reminded me in that moment that serving God did not mean it was a show, serving God wasn’t about what I could do, but serving God was about humbly trying to meet the needs of God’s people, sharing Christ with them, encouraging them along the way, and witnessing what HE will do. That doesn’t make for the best Facebook or Instagram posts most of the time.
What she had said to me has rung through my head millions of times while being here in Zambia. When I think that I’m not doing enough to look like a missionary, I remember what she said. When I don’t feel like encouraging someone because I’m annoyed because its hot, my hair is frizzy and there is no power, I remember what she said. Thankfully, God has used her words to impact me big time and help me re-evaluate why we are called to serve. It’s helped me to realize that it does not matter where in the world you are – in this moment right now, whether you have heard a call or not, please know that WE ARE ALL called to serve God and His people. Your mission field is your church, your family, your friends and your workplace. Don’t buy into the idea of waiting until you hear a clear call from the Lord to serve Him – hello, you can wherever you are!
Those moments where its been confusing, hard and filled with tears have ended up being the most beautiful times. It’s often in those moments where He reminds me that it’s not about me, but it’s all about Him and what He is doing.