I have a hard time calling myself that. Is that weird? I don’t know what it is exactly. I’ve spent the last year and a half of my life traveling overseas, living in poverty stricken lands, trying desperately to be the hands and feet of God. And, yet... when someone asks me about myself, about what I am doing with my life, about my job, I find it incredibly difficult to choke out the phrase “oh, you know... I’m a missionary!”
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not because the term holds any sort of derogatory connotation in my mind. Maybe it’s actually that it holds so much weight. From a young age, whenever I heard the term in church, I immediately pictured a lovely woman, with her crazy, unkept hair, wearing a long, flowing skirt, with a beautiful smile on her face; living among the poorest of poor, with 700 babies in her lap. Okay, so maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point. To me, a missionary was someone who was willing to sacrifice everything...luxury, money, fashion, showers, and even mexican food! And to be honest... I’m not sure I ever really wanted to do that.
Last night, as I sat in a room in Cape Town, South Africa surrounded by faces that belong to beautiful, mighty, amazing women of God... my definition of missionary changed once again. These women have seen life at its worst. They haven’t just seen poverty, they’ve experienced it. They haven’t just seen devastation, they adorn scars that boldly speak of the battle. And, they don’t just pack their bags and do this for months at a time....day after day, they pick up their swords and return to the battlefield.
These women. These amazing, strong, courageous township women. They are the missionaries. They are the ones giving everything they have to see their community survive, to see their families unite, to see that injustices are no more. Their scars may run deep, but their love runs deeper.
Maybe one day I’ll get there. Maybe at some point I will feel a bit more deserving of the term “missionary”. But for now, I relent to just being a student, to being a learner, to being a disciple. This place is incredibly blessed with warriors, with intercessors, with life bringers, with world changers. People who are willing to give it all, to see it through. To fight the ongoing battle of hopelessness, to never give up.