I have been called to be a missionary. In fact everyone who calls on the name of Christ is called to be a missionary, and the mission field to which they are called is the very place they are standing. We are never to go out anywhere without Christ on our minds, the word of God on our lips, and the gospel in our hands and feet. I recognized this call when I was 17 and have had it on my mind since then, always knowing that I was either walking towards or away from this fulfilling life that was being offered to me. Over the past few years I have recognized it more fully and reluctantly embraced this call. While trying to figure out, kicking and screaming along the way, what it looks like to be a missionary, I had fallen in love with many people that I would have never known how to love otherwise. Truly loving those who have no way of loving me back. At the end of the day I recognize that it was not I that loved them, but God through me, using me as a tool to spread the love of a Maker for that which was made.
In the beginning of my serious pursuit of what it means to be a missionary, three years ago, I met a man named Sam. Sam was a local of Ybor City in Tampa, FL. He has lived there for years and was know to be a local crack addict. When I first moved into the neighborhood he was one of the first men I met. He would offer to wash my truck for a few dollars, have me drop him off at local shelters late at night with $12 in hand. It was always $12. Over time I had learned of his addiction, his homelessness, and the situation he had found himself in. He became a friend of mine, a friend of ours at the Lake House. Much of the friendship was difficult. At one point we let him borrow our lawnmower to make money, which he never returned. We actually did this twice. You would think one would learn. But through all these troubles and over the years we worked with him, trying to find him sobriety and a stable life. Once he had been sober for 3 months working on his barbers certificate and a GED education. Shortly after this we watched him spiral once more down into the pit of self-inflicting poverty and under the oppression of addiction. Over time he has had his highs and lows, and then there was nothing. We had not heard word nor had we seen him around town, all we had to offer him were our prayers. In the end, our prayers had been answered. Last month, just before leaving for the Philippines, I received a call from Sam, a healthy Sam. He is living in Zephyrhills now with a full time position as a local barber with over a year of sobriety under his belt. He is following God and has built back up his relationships with the members of his family. He called only to thank the Lake House and me for having patience and treating him with love in spite of any wrongs, and that without the love shown he probably would not be where he is today.
It is beautiful to know that although we may not see the way we have an impact on lives we are making an impact and sharing the love that Christ first gave to us. It is encouraging to know that enduring heartache and betrayal can lead to complete transformation in a person, just showing a person dignity can give them the courage to take a step toward salvation. Although we may plant seeds, we may not always be the ones to harvest or even be able to see the fruits of the harvest.
It is not the end product we look towards, it is only sharing the love and having faith that God provides the end product.