A colleague recently shared this video series with us. The lesson he learned with others' reactions from it is that sharing the difficulties we tend to skip in our communications (like how hard it can be to send money to Africa) actually engages and impresses people. Someday, we should chronicle better what all we and especially our colleagues in Africa go through, frustrating as it can be at times, for the sake of this ministry.
What I got out of it, though, was a lesson about myself. I am not nearly as saintly as a missionary should be. I learned that because I saw quickly that I would not be nearly as patient as this vlogger. Not for a stranger who messaged me online, anyway. For my colleagues and friends in Africa, heck yeah I've crunched ideas through meetings, phoned my way through logistical pains, taken calls at 3am, advanced and gifted money personally, lugged a dozen laptops through airports and hotels, driven an hour to get papers for a chance for one of their sons to go to college, and more. But if it's somebody new, unconnected with the rest of my life, I usually don't have the patience to find out if I can bless them. I notice that even when my husband and I go to a store together. He strikes up conversations with at least the cashier, and usually about three other people in the store too. I usually assume a conversation with a stranger I'm unlikely to see again is not worth the effort. Kenneth is always thinking that there might be a way he can evangelize or just bless the people he meets in some way. I guess the number of times I've poured so much into a possibility of helping people and seen the plans fizzle has made me want to hedge my bets on whom I invest in.
Which is quite ironic since I once presented my ministry to a church with the theme, "Invest in the lost causes." I meant that in one sense because Africa seems so "hopeless," and yet we keep presenting that our vision is for the African Church to rise up and take the lead globally in education and the spread of the Gospel. That was also an unspoken appeal for certain loved ones connected with my audience at that time. I wanted people to invest in those I loved, even though it would seem fruitless. Have I forgotten my own plea? On the other hand I only have so much time, I can't reach everyone int the world. Shouldn't I invest it where I already have obligations, where I know I can make a difference?
How did Jesus do it? He had many disciples He taught over His ministry. He had twelve He particularly spent a lot of time with, prioritizing their learning, sometimes going to a remote place alone with them. He also made time for people who came to him to ask questions or get help. He also stopped and made time for the strangers who hollered or reached across a crowd for His help. And He even reached out to people who wouldn't have initiated conversation with Him (Jn 4:7-9, 5:6). He couldn't have talked with everyone He passed, but He made time for all sorts of people and met their needs. May I learn from Him how to reach out and love those He gives me the opportunity to, when to put in the extra effort on a long shot, and when to focus on my prior commitments.