Today we had the privilege of having a young man in high school guest blog for us. His name is Caleb and he is quite a remarkable student whose life experiences, thoughtful challenges, and genuine desire to learn have brought-forth a unique and interesting discussion. Hope you enjoy…and thanks Caleb for your honesty!
Over the past months it seems more and more often I have found myself in conversations about what it means to have faith and how to spread it with those I come into contact with. Growing up a MK (Missionary Kid) in West Africa, my whole life revolved around this question. My parents, by living out God’s call for their lives in missions, had directly affected the experiences I would encounter and my understanding of faith. From as long as I can remember I have considered myself a follower of Jesus. Being the youngest of three kids I looked up to and admired my brother and sister as well as my parents as role models in Christ. This was great! Everything I did was with a Godly overtone because of a Christian household where we were intentionally sharing Christ to our neighbors.
Now our family lives in the United States, and both my siblings are in college. Reflecting on the last five years back in our “home” country I find new incite. How have I shared my faith with the people around me like I was taught growing up in the mission field? Have I answered the call of the Great Commission? These questions poke at another. Have I truly been following Christ or am I just doing what has been right by the eyes of my parents and siblings and the Church? This is a hard question to answer. Of course I want to say “absolutely” and live a life full of Christ, but how do I know for sure that it is genuine. After many weeks of wrestling with this question, I don’t have the answer, but I do understand the question better. I must leave the security of knowing I have the excuse of saying, “oh my parents were missionaries,” as a shield to prove my faith. Accepting responsibility to live out my faith and know that it is the most important part of my life in needed to step away from using excuses such as these.
To share Christianity with the people I come into contact with is difficult. Although this may seem counter-intuitive coming from an MK it is something I struggle with. I have been called to be the salt of Jesus, but how do I make sure not to lose my flavor! Although my parents are church planters, I for myself must decide to take the bold step to share my faith. I was born into a Christian household, and baptized as a Christian. As I contemplate these questions, I think the answer is specific recommitment. Being committed to sharing my faith intentionally and directly as a missionary to all I come into contact with.
One of the most time-consuming parts of my life is school. As a junior going to a Christian private school it would seem to be easier to step out in faith and live the life we as Christians dream of all living. But many times I find it more difficult than ever to live out the commitments we have made in a setting such as this. I fear being scrutinized for asking the difficult questions to people who might be in the same situation as me, worried to share their faith. This is a chance for me to live out the calling Christ has for me. In West Africa, we were a family in a foreign missions-field, but to me my foreign missions-field is right here at “home,” a private Christian high school in Pennsylvania. “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”
One of the beauties of holism is that it moves us beyond a project mind-set.
As we heard about in the last post, a holistic approach gives us a chance to look at life in terms of relationships. What are the broken pieces of each other’s lives? Where do the relationships need reparation? This forces us to change the glasses we are looking at the world through.
It is easy in a fast-paced, urgent, and results-driven society to begin falling into ‘project mind-set’ as we call it. The questions that we ask, and the results that we are measuring, often have more to do with quantitative, tangible data on a project than they do with true transformation. And this observation comes from a lover of data and analytics. While these tools of measurement are highly valuable (and really cool to study and digest I might add), they don’t tell the whole story. A question that we have to ask ourselves as a faith-based nonprofit is – Are we seeing people’s lives and relationships being repaired?
If so, then we are beginning to move beyond a world where we view Africa, Asia, parts of South America, and Eastern Europe as projects that need fixing. Let’s be honest, only God can “fix” and repair the brokenness in these areas, and in our own lives too. We’re still a part of His plan though. We get to be agents for change that (and self-confession here) need reminded to love our neighbors as ourselves.
I don’t want to be viewed as a project for someone to come in and work on. I’d rather have a neighbor care enough to help me find work, to listen to me when I’m frustrated, to make me feel safe, to point me toward the only One who can offer true peace. The same is true of our neighbors around the world. If we can begin to see them as people just like us, who have likely experienced brokenness beyond what we can imagine, we’ll see the true beauty of a holistic approach toward world-missions.