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If I was a Missionary…


In the strict sense, I have been a missionary, living in Hungary for six years.  Life as a missionary was different.  Being missionaries changed the way we thought about so many things. 
We chose where we wanted to live, not based on geographical preference.  Instead of locating in beautiful, clean Switzerland or stylish Vienna, we moved to Hungary, because that was a much more strategic place to live in relation to those we wanted to reach.  It was not as beautiful, clean, or safe.  It was much more strategic.

We determined to learn Hungarian.  Sadly, we did not succeed well, but we wanted to move toward native Hungarians rather than make them relate to us in English.  We chose the embarrassment of linguistic faux pas over the familiarity of our own heart language.  We planned our days and directed our energies towards making relationships with Hungarians (and other Europeans).  We lived to know those folks, so that we could speak into their lives of the good news of the Gospel, which meant we had to purposefully enter into their world.  That principle shaped everything we did.

We trimmed down our possessions, because most Hungarians lived in much smaller “flats” than we do in the USA.  Therefore, our weight of possessions had to become lighter to fit into life there.  We probably should have trimmed down even more than we did. 

We paid a significant price to move to Hungary.  This came in the loss of relationships, distance from family, and loss of the familiar for something very different and uncomfortable.  There was a financial cost which was difficult to recover from.  To be a missionary necessarily involved a cost for the sake of the mission, which was to proclaim the glory of Christ.
Now that I live in Huntsville, am I still a missionary?  The Scriptures say that I am.  I have been “sent” just as Christ was sent by the Father, called to be an ambassador of the Kingdom of Heaven.  That is my life’s calling and purpose.  But, does my life reflect that calling?  It used to, at least for a few years.  What about now?

If I was still a missionary, would I choose a place to live primarily on the basis of my personal preferences and status, or would I choose my location based on those to whom I am sent?  Would I choose a neighborhood because it is safe, comfortable, stylish, and appropriate for my status?  Or, would I be more strategic?  How would being a missionary change the way I make that decision?
If I was a missionary, would I live merely to enjoy my familiar world and to find personal fulfillment, or would I live to initiate relationships, even across cultural/ethnic/socio-economic barriers, with the purpose to proclaim and demonstrate the glory of the Kingdom? 

If I was a missionary, how would I think about my stuff?  Would my stuff weigh me down and tie up my energy and resources, or would I free myself from so much stuff that I might be free to be and work wherever?
If I was a missionary, would I see the cost that might be required as a grievous loss and a detriment to my joy and well-being, or would I see it as something worth the end?  Is the Kingdom of Heaven worth that cost?  Is the Kingdom what I live for?

Sadly, after coming home from Hungary, I slid very easily back to the lifestyle that I had known before.  What happened?  I wonder if it has something to do with that word “home.”  Am I at home in Huntsville?  Is this where I belong?  Or, am I an exile in a foreign land on mission for my King as a representative of my true Homeland?  Are my roots so deep in this place that I think I belong here, or do I remember that I more fully belong somewhere else, somewhere very foreign to this place?

If you were a missionary living and serving here in Huntsville — and you are — how would your life be different?