I’ll tell you a secret – this is boring.
I know I’m always saying how following God is an adventure no matter where He takes you, and obeying Him is the best choice you can make with your life, and all that. But there’s more to the story.
This weekend I had lunch with missionaries serving in a different organization than I do. They live in the picturesque Yarra Valley obeying God through an intensely necessary and difficult ministry. After we ate, I joined one of them in the garden to discuss anything that came to mind. For both of us, “normal” was one of those things.
Living in foreign countries sounds (and sometimes is) exotic, but living anywhere eventually includes normality. Some sort of normal must come to exist or else you’d never make it through. The people I know who have come to Australia and New Zealand as tourists have seen far more of these countries in a couple of weeks than I have in two cumulative years of living here. (That being said, I love adventuring around Victoria – the state where I live in Australia – and have gotten to see amazing sights in NZ.) Short-term trips are a constant barrage of new sights and tastes and sounds, so the excitement and drama is non-stop. Long-term missions is about settling in, doing normal things like cleaning the bathroom, buying groceries, and paying bills – and committing to the boring.
When people in the US ask me what a normal day looks like, I feel kind of lame. My normal days involve a ton of mundane tasks and time. These are what go into achieving a few elusive golden moments.
I’ve been building a relationship with this one church in Melbourne – my key goal being to hold a HOPE61 training session with them so they can learn about human trafficking, what vulnerability looks like, and make an action plan to prevent trafficking within their spheres of influence. I had months of conversation with one of the church members. Then we sent a few emails. Then I visited and shared with a group about HOPE61 and human trafficking. A golden moment.
Then we sent more emails. Then I sent someone in my place to visit their church again.
A golden moment by proxy.
More emails, and I connected with the senior pastor. A couple more emails and last month we met up in person! Ah, golden moment.
He was remarkably encouraging and gave me a 100% “yes,” he wants to do the HOPE61 training in the church. Woohoo! Definite golden moment. We made tentative plans, but other leadership in the church must be persuaded. The first tentative date didn’t work out, so now the pursuit resumes – but this time I have a key leader of the church helping me.
All of that has happened from 2013-March 2016.
Part of this slow-moving work is cultural. I was told by Australians from the very beginning that it would be a slow process. In some things they were proven wrong but in others – like this – they were certainly right. That is long-term missions. There’s a lot of “boring” involved; a lot of planning, repetition, washing cups, emails upon emails just to get someone to plan a phone call or a meeting, reading, writing, editing, casual conversations you hope will turn into something bigger, Facebook “likes,” visits, errands, and simply being with people to demonstrate through action and not only words how serious and committed you are…
…but when a golden moment happens, it’s exhilarating enough to keep me going for the next one. When a friend who has been asking Jesus questions since day #1 brings up the hope of Heaven, I want to keep being “real” around them – even though my real is not always a ray of sunshine. (I don’t interact well with other humans in the morning.)
So that’s my secret. Following and obeying God’s voice is an adventure you’d never expect. It’s even an adventure when you walk by the same tree you’ve seen a million times. It’s an adventure through muddy swamps and reaching the top of mountains to gape at the view in front of you. It’s an adventure sitting on the side of the path and struggling to remember why you set out on the hike in the first place. In my case, answering His call to do something about human trafficking means committing to a lot of boring things – but it’s also about watching and working toward incredible golden moments.
An injustice as immense as modern day slavery deserves that kind of attention. To a King as holy and wonderful as the Living God, I want to give every moment of my life.