"Now, what is that you do?"
Questions so familiar and common, I believe most individuals will base their identity on their current to-do list. Job description, education, qualifications, experience. No longer discussing passions and purpose, but instead pulling out their resumé and firing off the list. I'm certainly guilty of it! In a society where priority and value is often assigned according to how one answers these questions, it has become more and more automatic to live and act off of your to-do list and resumé.
In recent conversations with fellow missionaries here in Italy we've greatly discussed the emphasis placed on one's "missionary to-do list" with some sadness of heart. It seems as though, even in the church, there is great emphasis on the "to-do list." If it does not meet certain qualifications, the value of the mission is decreased. However, when one is without doubt called into the mission field - whether in a highly developed western country or in a seemingly primitive third-world country - shouldn't the excitement and support be equally enthusiastic? After all, we live in a world severely in need of a Savior, bottom line. As believers we anticipate the return of Christ. Oh, that glorious day when...
"Violence shall no more be heard in your land, devastation or destruction within your borders; you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise. The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give you light; but the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun shall no more go down, nor your moon withdraw itself; for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended."
As believers we all play a part in bringing the world to its knees, recognizing the need for a Savior. As His children, we all have been given gifts that are a part of this grand mission. These gifts are part of our identity as His children. More than what we do, it is about who we are and how we are living for the Kingdom of God.
For example, a dear friend of mine is a mother of three. She is here serving God with her husband and children as a missionary. Her mission? Serving her family. Meeting other mothers at the park for play dates. Meeting with me a few times a week to fellowship and exercise. Keeping a clean home. Sharing her story with others in the community. Meeting for coffee with a few women before heading to Italian class once a week. The joy that this "get-to" list brings this family overflows and has had a great impact on this community...in less than one year! A walk normally five minutes in length takes 30 minutes simply because of the relationships they have built with so many in this valley. Praise God!
So, what am I doing here? I get to dance with people whose "Religious Views" status on Facebook says "Hahahahahaha". I get to learn Italian. I get to have coffee with fellow missionaries as well as the occasional aperitivo with another dancer who would honestly be considered a modern day communist. I get to workout and fellowship and pray at the same time with a fellow American and mother of three. I get to celebrate the birthday of and pray for a young believer in the church. I get to share my passion for dance and teach some of the youth in the valley. I get to spend time with my fiancé and learn how to do life with him. And yes, I live in one of the most physically beautiful places in the world (secondo me...in my opinion)...
But it is also one of the most spiritually dark places in the world. A few facts and figures...
- in Turin, just one hour from where I live, exists the largest satanic worship temple in the world
- in Europe, there are fewer than 2% genuine followers of Christ - many are looking to atheism, black magic or witch craft in this continent considered to be "post-Christian"
- an "unreached people group" is considered an area where there are fewer than 2% genuine followers of Christ in the population
So, what are we doing here?
"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."
At least that is our hope. That is my hope. My heart aches for the women I get to dance with. For the youth that do not yet know the hope they have in Christ. These people who do not yet know that they are not, in fact, orphans or widows, but precious children of the Savior King.
I would ask now that you would join in prayer for unity in the body of Christ as we all strive for this goal. Prayer for God to be always preparing the way to reach the unreached, and open the eyes of the closed. Prayer for clarity as we all forge ahead on this journey - whether that be in the form of "to-do" or "get-to." And finally, that God would speak to the church world-wide, to support those out in the field seeking to serve the lost.
Thank you so much for all of your prayers and support. And praise God for the relationships that have been formed already! He is here and moving, but the work is not done. Greater things will be done here!