Missionary work is kind of a crazy thing to do. Leaving family and friends, home and career to travel halfway across the world and try to find a place in a foreign culture. Plus, there are scary snakes.
And today, Christians exist in every country, even when they are a small minority. In some ways it makes the most sense to stay where you are, and reach out in service and love to those who share a common culture and language with you. To people who are bound to you by common life experiences and common ways of viewing the world. Isn’t that the best way to come to deep understanding of another person, or to be able share with them the importance of God in your life? Such concepts are hard enough to express even among people who share the same language.
But one great beauty of international mission is the way that it can point to the amazing unity of the Church. Despite all the differences of language and lifestyle and worldview, there is something that binds us all to each other. There is one Lord, one God whom we serve. One name, the holy name of Jesus Christ, that binds all of us who claim the name of “Christian”. And that is a unity that means more to me than country or culture or language.
When Ben and I get to Tanzania, we will find the Church there alive and vibrant. We will find Christians of deep faith and conviction and courage. So when we seek to live our lives in Tanzania as examples of Jesus’ love for the world, we will not be bringing something that wasn’t there before. Christians in Tanzania live every day as a witness to the light of Jesus Christ in the world, just as Christians in America do. But by traveling to join our brothers and sisters in Tanzania, we can be a sign and a reminder that we share a common faith and a common life. We can be a link that binds the Church ever closer in the bonds of love that stretch over all the world.
And as fellow Christians, it is right for us to live and serve and learn side by side, whatever our differences may be. And such unity is a truth and a miracle for all the world to see.