I haven’t written in this blog for a long time. Also, I haven’t written about any mission-related stuff in this blog for a long time.
There’s a reason for that.
I’ve been thinking about intentionally getting away from allowing people to see me as some super holy person who left everything to follow Jesus. First of all, please never think I’m a super holy person. From time to time, I may look holy, but that’s just because the not-so-holy part of me is just hiding, but trust me, it’s still there, and when you see it, please don’t be surprised or scandalized, just keep praying (hard) for my soul, thanks.
In a way, I did leave a lot behind when I moved to Cebu, but I want to take all focus away from that because that just has little significance anymore. It’s like growing out of my favorite pair jeans. I left my old ones because they just don’t fit anymore, but the new ones are great. At first it felt like a huge deal because I’ve been wearing those old jeans for a long time and they were my favorite, but after a while, leaving those old jeans isn’t something that needs to define me.
Anyway, that was over two years ago. Those were the “honeymoon days”. It was fun and exciting for a while when things were changing so rapidly, and I really hope my life was/is able to inspire a few people, but the truth is I want to get away with being labled a “missionary in the Philippines” because I am just as much a missionary as you are, fellow Christian. And honestly, I think many of you fellow Christians who are working in the world, are way better missionaries than I am.
I was reflecting on life recently when I realized that my life now isn’t much different from my life before when I moved to the Philippines. I do some things differently, but at the end of the day, I do all the things mostly everyone else does. I have a job, I hang out with friends, I pray, I sin, I travel, I exercise, I watch movies, I struggle 3 times a day trying to figure out what I should eat, my room is a mess, my life is unorganized, I ask for advice from friends, I’m happy some days, I’m depressed other days. I’m just like you, fellow Christian. I just live in a different culture than I did before.
I’m dedicating an entire post about this because I think it’s important. If people consider me special because I’m a “missionary in the Philippines”, I feel like it takes away from all those people back home and here in Cebu, who ARE missionaries in their own culture and in their own homes—which, in my opinion, is way more difficult.
I always look up to people who have full-time jobs & families and STILL dedicate time to do ministry. Those who work all day at stressful or mundane jobs, dreaming all day about serving the Lord, excited to be volunteering at some event or outreach to the poor over the weekend or after work, and then after a long day of work, they find time to spend with and take care of their families AND to go do some volunteer work. Now THAT is impressive, and THAT is something that shouldn’t be left unnoticed.
I know what it’s like to work at a totally secular job (or be in school) all day and dream about leaving it to serve the Lord full-time. I only worked in the world for a good 6 months before I went into full-time ministry, and the working in the world part was hard. After 3 months, I already wanted to quit. Being a missionary in the workplace is not an easy job. People who are living that life deserve way more credit than they’re given. In my opinion, it’s way easier to bring Jesus Christ to a poor barrio than it is to bring Jesus Christ into the office. Pretty much all of my friends here in Cebu are living that life (except for the brothers and sisters, of course), and they’re all holier than I am (including the brothers and sisters), more in love with the Lord than I am, more willing to give more of their lives than I am, more willing to love until it hurts than I am. A lot of my friends here live really simple lives, work so much to send money back to their families, and every free moment they get, they’re doing some service or evangelization project, joyfully and selflessly.
It’s truly an inspiration, and I’m realizing that God put me here so my friends can evangelize me. I don’t really have much to offer here anymore, but I have much to receive.
I read in some other foreign missionary’s blog a long time ago that there’s a saying about missionary life. It goes something like.. Your first year is for you to do the evangelizing, and the second year is for you to be evangelized. Something that like that… and in my experience, it’s true. I’m usually the one who tries to prove all generalizations and sayings wrong with my experiences, but in this case, I can’t.
So friends, thanks for being an inspiration to me. The love you share, and all your sacrifices aren’t left unnoticed. It may feel like your job is super mundane or stressful, but the way you carry Christ with you to the office and after work is an inspiration, and if no one else notices it, at least you know two people do, Jesus and me.